THE minimum score required to gain entry to the Hunter's only academically selective secondary school has hit a seven year high, jumping eight marks in the past year alone.
A Newcastle Herald analysis of Department of Education data shows students needed to achieve at least 191 out of 300 in the Selective High School Placement Test last March to secure one of 180 year seven places at Merewether High this year.
Across the state, a cohort of 14,501 students sat the test last year for the chance to secure one of 4256 places at one of NSW's 17 fully selective high schools, 26 partially selective schools, four agricultural high schools or the virtual selective class.
The department said a student's entry into the schools' year seven classes was determined by their results in the test's English, mathematics and general ability sections, together with their primary school's assessment of their performance in English and mathematics.
"The minimum entry score is not an indicator of the relative performance of the selective high schools," the department said.
"The minimum entry score for a selective high school is the score of the lowest scoring student to accept a place there.
"The minimum entry score is determined by the geographical location of the schools and the academic merit of the students applying for entry.
"Parents should not use minimum entry scores as the only criterion on which to base their choice of selective high schools. They should also consider factors such as the curriculum... and transport."
Merewether's minimum score of 191 is up from 183 last year, 188 in 2017, 182 in 2016, 180 in 2015, 176 in 2014 and 183 in 2013. It is the 23rd highest from 44 published.
Scores were not published for boarders at Hurlstone Agricultural High School or for entry to Farrer Memorial and Yanco agricultural high schools.
The government started making changes to the test this year to make it more equitable, including improving the psychometric design of questions. A new entry process will be phased in from 2020.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said last week Sydney's first fully selective school in more than 25 years will be built in its south-west.