How to Succeed in OLNA

When getting ready for the OLNA, it’s essential that you know exactly what you're getting yourself in for - here is a comprehensive breakdown of how to succeed in OLNA in WACE. You don't want to miss this one.

a year ago   •   5 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Becca Tapert / Unsplash

Are you completing WACE in Western Australia? If so, you might have to complete the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment, OLNA. Here are all the answers to what the OLNA is, and how to smash this assessment out of the park.

Firstly, what even is OLNA?

The OLNA is an assessment to allow Western Australian students to successfully meet literacy and numeracy standards so they can obtain their Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

Some students might have already demonstrated this proficiency by obtaining a “Band 8” result in their Year 9 NAPLAN assessment in the areas of Numeracy, Reading and Writing, meaning they now don't have to complete that section of the evaluation.

If you did not attain these results in NAPLAN, do not worry! You get six opportunities to sit the OLNA throughout Years 10, 11 and 12, and you can even complete it with virtually unlimited attempts out of high school. Furthermore, once you’ve met the minimum standard in one of the assessment areas, you don't have to complete that component of the test again.

Here are the windows for the 2023 OLNA:

Test Period 

Writing (Dates) 

Numeracy and Reading (Dates) 

Year Level 

Term 1 Window 

27–28 February 

27 February–10 March

Year 11 (required), 12

Term 2 Window (A) 

1–2 May

1–12 May

Year 10, 11, 12

Term 2 Window (B) 

12–13 June

12–23 June

Year 10, 11, 12

Term 3 Window (A)

24–25 July

24 July–4 August 

Year 10, 11, 12

Term 3 Window (B)

4–5 September 

4–15 September

Year 10, 11, 12

Term 4 Window 

23–24 October 

23 October–3 November 

Year 9, 10

(Note that Year 10 students initially complete the OLNA in Term 4 as Year 9s, and don't get to in Term 1 of Year 10.)

Now that you know what the OLNA is, how can you ace it?

Get familiar with the OLNA

When getting ready for the OLNA, it’s important that you know exactly what you're getting yourself in for.

The reading and numeracy tests of the OLNA both consist of a 45-question multiple choice test, spanning 50 minutes. For these, practice tests in a similar format can greatly improve student confidence and proficiency, and luckily some are available for free here.

The writing component of the OLNA is a 60-minute extended response to a prompt, with a 600-word limit. Some students might find this part of OLNA less straightforward than multiple choice, but just remember, the OLNA standard is just looking for good quality writing: things like the effective inclusion of ideas, an understanding of audience and genre, and correct spelling and grammar. Practice prompts for this section are available here, and are also similar to NAPLAN writing tasks completed in earlier years.

Choose subjects strategically

Choosing your subjects strategically may be useful for some students in order to maximise their success in OLNA. For example, students who struggled to demonstrate numeracy proficiency in Year 9 NAPLAN and/or the Year 10 OLNA sittings may find it helpful to continue studying a maths subject in Years 11 and 12 to optimise their confidence and performance when completing OLNA.

Choosing Foundation courses

If you’re worried you might not be on track to reach the literacy and numeracy requirements before the end of Year 12, that's OK! Those doing a Certificate II (or higher) VET qualification can do Foundation Courses designed to assist students to meet the minimum standards in literacy and numeracy, meaning they can get the targeted teacher attention that they need.

If you’re worried about your reading and/or writing performance, List A Courses such as English Foundation, English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) Foundation and Career and Enterprise Foundation could be useful.

For numeracy proficiency, the List B Courses such as Mathematics Foundation, Applied Information Technology Foundation and Heath, Physical and Outdoor Education Foundation courses could help.

Of course, remember that all these subject enrolment decisions should always be discussed with your school!

Destress and relax

Doing the OLNA around the regular demands of Years 10, 11 and 12 can be really stressful, as the demands of the test mingle with the stresses of your regular assessments. It's important to remind yourself that you get six opportunities to complete the OLNA in high school, and to take time for yourself in between your practice tests and studying to destress, relax and do the things that you love.

Ask for help!

Just like you would ask your school teachers for help in a challenging subject like chemistry, you can absolutely ask them for help in passing the OLNA. They can help make sure you enter the assessments feeling confident and prepared. In fact, after each OLNA, your teacher reviews feedback in which areas students need to improve in order to successfully satisfy each component.

Parents and friends can also be valuable in building your confidence for these assessments.

If you have concerns about whether you'll be able to demonstrate the standard of literacy or numeracy before the end of Year 12, you can always talk to some of Australia’s top tutors in order to build your confidence in English or Mathematics that can get you over the line and on track to achieve your WACE.


What is the OLNA?

The OLNA is an Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment that allows students to successfully meet the minimum standards for literacy and numeracy in the Western Australian Certificate of Education.

Do I have to complete the OLNA?

If you didn’t attain Band 8 scores in Year 9 NAPLAN, you'll have to complete the OLNA until you successfully meet the minimum standard of literacy and numeracy for your WACE.

How can I pass the OLNA?

Practising the format of the OLNA and getting familiar with the test can be the best bet for students trying to demonstrate their skills. For students still struggling to succeed, you can try taking on subjects relevant to the Numeracy and English skills being assessed, or even foundation courses. Remember you can always rely on the external support of teachers and private tutors!

Written by KIS Academics Tutor for VCE English, Literature and Psychology, Ella Davis. Ella is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne and has an immense love for all things reading and writing. You can view Ella’s profile here and request her as a tutor.

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