Nothcote High School

Let us follow the better path


Select Entry - ACE program

About the program

The ACE (Advanced Curriculum Extension) program allows students in Years 7&8 to be challenged with work that is appropriate to their abilities. Emphasis is placed on higher level thinking skills, problem solving and academic achievement. Students best suited to the program are those who are highly motivated independent learners, flexible in their thinking, have well-developed literacy and numeracy skills and broad general knowledge. While it is not an acceleration program, it does prepare students to undertake some advancement subjects in Years 9-11, including VCE subjects in Year 10. 


The Kennett Government established a gifted children's unit and introduced Select Entry Accelerated Learning (SEAL) programs to schools in the 1990s. After much discussion, and with substantial parental involvement, NHS's program was established in 1997 as a High Achievers' Program. Our program was deliberately designed to challenge higher achieving students, but not to accelerate them through school as official SEAL programs were designed to do.


More than 15 years later, the program is now well refined, with over 700 students having entered the program. NHS's model has now been widely copied and is the approach used by many other schools. Years 7 to 12 school retention rates for students in the NHS program are generally around 90%. Students in the program experience consistent success at VCE level and community support for the program is strong.


Emphasis is placed on higher-level thinking, problem solving and academic achievement. Involvement in performing arts and project-based learning are also features of this program.


Which students are suited to the program?

The ACE program is designed to benefit those students who have shown academic aptitude in one or more specific areas of the curriculum and have high educational aspirations. A student in the ACE Program is not necessarily good at everything, but will show an ability beyond that of most of his or her peers.


In general, students in the ACE program :

  • Are independent and responsible for their learning.
  • Have well developed numeracy and literacy skills.
  • Are self-motivated and well-organized.
  • Have a broad general knowledge and can work cooperatively.


How is the program different from regular classes?

Students are generally taught in a similar way and similar content to the other classes in their year level. Some subjects provide alternate texts that allow for a greater level of analysis or complexity. Students of all classes are taught with a wide variety of strategies that are the most appropriate to promote their intellectual growth. It has been found that students in high-achiever-style programs are generally more receptive to certain types of teaching strategies and classroom activities.


The ACE curriculum

Students in Years 7 and 8 are grouped together for most of their subjects. While they follow the same core curriculum as other students at their level, the work presented to them is more challenging and advanced and is aimed at encouraging higher level thinking skills.


How are students selected?

Students who apply for the program will be asked to sit the general aptitude HAST test, held at the school. This test will be externally corrected and non-refundable cost of  $70 will be charged for each applicant for the program to cover this cost.  Families will be provided with a statement of results from the test.


In addition, applicants for the program are required to present supporting documentation to support their application in the form of:

  • Grade 5 reports (copy only)
  • Grade 5 NAPLAN results (copy only)

ACE program applications for Year 7 2019

Please note that applications for the ACE Program 2019 have now closed.


Enrolment processes   

Any student can sit for the ACE test, but please note that enrolment processes apply for Northcote High School. 


1. Students must apply for Northcote High School as first choice of school.

2. Places in the ACE program are also offered in the following priority order: To students who

a) live in proximity to the school, or if not,

b) have a sibling already in the school; or if not, 

c) make a successful Curriculum Claim (including place in the ACE program) to the school.

3. Students must achieve at high stanine 6 or above to be accepted. 

Unfortunately, late applications cannot be accommodated due to demand for places in the program. Also, places are not kept open in the program to accommodate changes of mind.

Applications Close: Tuesday 24 April 2018, 4pm

Test Date: Saturday 05 May 2018. 














HAST (Higher Ability Student Test)

Northcote High School uses the three ACER test paper option, which consists of: 

  • Reading Comprehension (Multiple choice), 
  • Written Expression (a written response) and
  • Maths Reasoning (Multiple Choice)

Important points to note

  • It is not uncommon for students who have little experience of testing to find such tests a challenge. For this reasons, we strongly recommend families consider purchasing a sample test in advance, especially if students are anxious about tests or have never done a multiple choice-style test. The photo above shows a question booklet (under left hand) and a multiple choice answer booklet (under the right hand). Link to Sample paper order at the Australian Council for Educational Research  (click to follow link)


  • While NAPLAN results are considered, entry to the ACE program is primarily based on the HAST test, and the school's decision is final.
  • Families need to ensure Northcote High School is listed first choice of schools on the Transition Form to be accepted for the ACE program. The school will not enrol a student into the program without this step being fulfilled. Places are not held in the program for parents who do not apply for Northcote High School as their first choice, or who change their mind and apply late, whether they live locally to the school or not.
  • Testing results completed for other school programs will not be considered in selecting students at NHS. 

Other test advice from ACER

HAST Candidate information for students and parents (click to follow link - note there are three tests conducted at NHS)
This document provides helpful information on what to bring to the test, the testing process, as well as samples of questions. 


FAQ regarding ACER tests (Click to follow links)


Can the ACE Test be done in another state or country?

Yes it can, but please contact NHS for exact details. There is usually a significant additional cost because tests are sent by security couriers.

Please write to with your name, child's name and likely location/country for testing and any other relevant details.


NHS will require the contact details for a supervisor overseas (email).

The supervisor must be a registered education practitioner suitably qualified to administer an Entrance Test.

ACER charges an additional cost for admin, handling fee, correspondence & secure courier delivery to the supervisor interstate or overseas.

There is also an additional cost if the papers are received late and the main NHS cohort has already been marked.


Entry after Year 7

Where there are vacancies in the program for Year 8, testing is conducted late in the year at the school. Please contact your child's Head of School in writing. Testing timelines are advertised in our school newsletter.