Primary education plays a vital role in children’s development. It is a place of learning and growth, and sometimes, some exceptional little sprouters are ready for a little bit more. If you feel that your child one of them, you can consider helping them apply for Opportunity class, also known as OC class.
Opportunity classes ( a.k.a. OC) are located in government primary schools in New South Wales. They are for Year 5 and 6 students with high academic potential, aiming to enable these gifted students to explore beyond mainstream educational content. They get to learn alongside classmates with similar abilities and interests, which allows gifted children to make friends and grow together.
What is the Opportunity Class Placement Test?
Any student who wants to apply for OC has to participate in the Opportunity Class Placement Test in Year 4. The test is held yearly in designated test centres, measuring the students’ abilities rather than their performance on the school curriculum. The final score will be based on the test score and their academic results at school*.
The test format:
The test consists of 2 parts, each with 35 multiple-choice questions. In total, we have 70 questions; 20 questions in English reading & comprehension, 20 questions in Mathematics, and 30 questions in general ability (thinking skills). Students have 30 minutes to complete each part of the test with a short 10-minute interval break.
Where to find sample tests?
Practising with sample tests has always been a great way to prepare. They help your child become familiar with the test format, the types of questions and get used to solving problems under pressure and time constraint. After that, you and your child can go over the answers together. Sample tests are available on the official website of New South Wales Department of Education. Please go to the NSW Department of Education website to download past papers.
How to help your child prepare for the English section
Since the test has three sections; English, Math and General Ability, we have decided to focus on English first for this article. Maths and GA will be in a separate blog article.
The English section aims to assess students’ reading comprehension skills. Below are some important tips that you can follow to help your child prepare well for this section:
1) Doing practice tests with your child
Practise with sample OC tests from previous years or with any English reading comprehension test on a similar level. You should help grade and ask them to go back to mistakes so that they discover what went wrong and how to avoid them next time. Experience is your child’s greatest advantage.
A very helpful website for you to find practice tests is Test Prep Online. On the site, you can find free practice materials for numerous tests in English, Maths, GA as well as other useful tests such as CCAT, CogAT, OLSAT and NNAT (Pearson published tests). The site provides tests for different grades. You can upgrade your membership to gain access to more tests with explanations and score reports to track progress.
2) Helping your child develop a reading habit
You should encourage your child to develop a reading habit to improve their reading comprehension skill naturally. Don’t force your child to read material that is way above their level. Take time to find the kind of material that interests your child.
3) Expanding your child’s vocabulary
Having a strong vocabulary definitely gives your child an edge. Try and introduce new words every day and help them remember by inserting them into everyday language and conversation. You can also play word games with your child – that’s always fun!
4) Teaching your child useful strategies
Don’t spend too much time on one single question. Time management is a key challenge that students face – if one question is too hard and takes too long, skip it, and then go back to it at the end. An educated guess is always better than leaving something blank.
Another good strategy is reading the question first before reading the article. It enables you to focus on what information to look out for, saving time when searching for answers.
Remind that they don’t need to pay attention to trivial and irrelevant details. Most of the time, as long as they understand the main point of the passage, it’s good enough to infer the rest.
5) Getting help from outside
If you feel that practising at home may not be enough, consider coaching centres for more training and practice with professionals. You can also purchase online tutoring service. As we mentioned above, Test Prep Online is a good site that provides a wide range of sample tests as well as and tutoring services.
What your child should do when the test date is near
Practics, practise, practise and be in their best shape.
1) Working on your child’s weak points
In the last stage of preparation, focus on weaker points, and learn tricks to overcome them. If your child’s weak point is anxiety, you should figure out ways to help them relax before and during the test.
2) Doing revision and learning some more vocab
One week before the test, you should focus on revision. Make sure that they remember the tips, tricks and knowledge they gained during the practice sessions. However, don’t be forceful and overwhelm them – just stay by their side and encourage them as they go.
3) Getting your child familiar with different types of questions
Instead of asking them to take more practice tests, hand-pick different types of questions to ensure you cover the grounds.
4) Don’t stress your child out
Last but not least, do not stress your child out. They are still young and deserve to play outside with friends and enjoy sports activities. A stressful parent is far worse than any lack of preparation.
What to prepare on the test date
On the test date, you should prepare the following items for your child to bring to the test centre:
A printed copy of the “Test Authority” letter.
Warm clothing such as a jumper or a cardigan.
Glasses, asthma inhaler/spacer if your child needs one. If your child needs to bring any other medical devices to the testing centre, make sure to get approval beforehand.
Clear plastic water bottle with no writing on it.
So, this is the end of this article that covers tips to help your child prepare for the English section of the OC test. In the next article, we will cover Maths. Always remember that preparation is key and not to stress your child out. What matters most is that your child did their best and improved their academic growth along the way.
*Due to COVID-19, the OC test in 2020 is to take place at a student’s own school rather than in examination centres and the final score will be based on the test score only.