Scholarships into Elite Private Schools

One of the biggest misconceptions about scholarships is that they are only for gifted children with a genius level of natural ability. But that is simply not true.

Scholarships are offered for a broad range of reasons. Your child might excel academically, in music, in sport, or maybe even all three. Regardless of their area of interest, scholarships are an opportunity not to be missed.

Secondary private school fees for two children will cost half a million dollars

Our detailed analysis of tuition fees for most of the prominent private schools in Sydney is alarming. Our estimate shows that the most expensive private school is SCEGGS Darlinghurst.

From Years 7-12, parents could be paying close to $235,000 just in tuition fees. In our sample of schools, St Aloysius provides the cheapest private secondary education, paying up to $120,000. Our analysis assumes a 5% increase p.a. on 2017 pricing.

Private schools such as Scot’s College, Kamabla, Ascham and Wenona do not publicly advertise school fees on their websites.

Notably, these price estimates do not include fees associated with school’s co-curricular activities, excursions, camps, uniforms and textbooks. With many parents having at least two children, wanting secondary private education for your children could cost north of half a million dollars.

There are some schools (Santa Sabina, MLC, Redlands, Trinity Grammar) that offer discounts for two or more children. Joey’s includes morning tea and after school study until 8pm.

Our analysis above has been focused on Secondary school fees only. However, many parents enrol their children in private schools for primary and even pre-kindy education. On average, primary school fees for the private schools are $20,000-25,000 p.a.

Over 7 years (Kindy-Yr 6), this is another $140,000-$175,000 in private school education for one child, totalling over $400,000 in private education from Kindy-Yr 12 per child.

If you are serious about your child attending a private school, a scholarship will provide significant financial assistance that should not be ignored.

Types of Scholarships

In NSW, scholarships are mainly awarded based on your child’s performance in an entrance exam. However, some schools will often also consider NAPLAN results, school reports and the outcome of an interview.

For the entrance exam, most independent schools use a test set by the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER). The ACER scholarship tests are split into three sections: written expression, humanities and mathematics.​

The date of the ACER scholarship test will depend on whether the school you are applying to is in a Cooperative Program or has selected an Alternative Test Date.

  • Cooperative Program Schools: Saturday 25th February 2017.

  • Alternative Test Date: Refer to the table below.




Inner West

Meriden School: Saturday 18th February, 2017 Trinity Grammar School: Saturday 11th February, 2017

Newington: Monday 13 February 2017

Eastern Suburbs

Cranbrook: Saturday 4 March 2017 Ascham School: Saturday 11th February, 2017

Kambala: Saturday 11 March 2017

North Shore

The King’s School: 19 February 2017

Wenona: Saturday 11 March, 2017

Queenwood: March 18 2017

Central Sydney

Sydney Grammar: Sunday 12th February, 2017

When to apply

ACER scholarship applications open in mid-September, two years before your child will start the school year. So, for entry in 2018, applications opened in mid-September 2016. Applications for 2018 will close at 11:59pm AEDT Monday 6 February 2017.

While year 7, 9 and 11 entries are the most common grade scholarships, some independent schools offer scholarships for all grade levels. It is a good idea to check the school’s website for what scholarships are on offer.

Refer to the information below to find out what test to register your child in;

Level 1

Year 7 or 8

Level 2

Year 9 or 10

Level 3

Year 11 or 12

Primary Scholarship Test

Year 4, 5, or 6

Other Notable Scholarships Offered

Scholarships are not just awarded for academic merit, but also for other notable achievements such as skill in music, leadership and sports. If your child is gifted in one or all of these areas, then it is a good idea to apply for one of theses scholarships.

A few notable examples are listed below.


Year 5/6: Junior School (Orchestral) Instrumental, Piano and Vocal Music Scholarships

Year 9: The Betty Stephen Memorial Sport Scholarship


Year 7: Music Scholarships

Year 7: Trinitarian Scholarships

PLC Sydney

Year 4: Goodlet Legacy Junior School music scholarship

Year 7, 8, & 9: Principal's Scholarship Of Excellence

Planning Ahead

Academic scholarship exams are highly difficult and the topics tested are well above student’s academic level. Preparing your child for a scholarship test is all about Education Planning. At Little Geniuses, we are renowned for ensuring students are 1-2 years ahead of their grade, to give them the best chance of being offered places in the most prestigious private schools each year.

Attaining scholarships will save parents an astounding amount of money, well over $200,000. It’s as good as winning the lottery!

Little Geniuses have a full database of exam style questions from all different types of scholarship tests – from ACER to private schools such as Meriden and independent North Shore private schools. This is important, as each test is different. Children need to prepare for the tests in different ways.

For example, the ACER scholarship tests are split into three sections: written expression, humanities and mathematics. Alternatively, some North Shore private school exams are broken down into five sections: English Reasoning, Maths/Spatial Reasoning, Mathematics Reading and Comprehension and Written Expression.

What is your next step?

If you want your child to succeed and gain a scholarships place in an elite private school, then your next step is to contact Little Geniuses for an assessment. We can give you a detailed assessment report which outlines where your child is at compared to their peers and what steps you need to take to ensure they are prepared for the scholarship exam.

Scholarship tests are often sat two years before your child will start the school, so early planning is essential. If you are looking for a particular scholarship test, refer to the key academic dates on our website.

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