BlogNAPLANWhat is NAPLAN? The Breakdown

What is NAPLAN? The Breakdown

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Are you sick of hearing often confusing or daunting information about NAPLAN through your friends, family, or, heaven forbid, your own children?

Well, there’s no need to be confused for any longer, because we’ll break down everything you need to know about NAPLAN. From the types of assessments to how your child can prepare, we’ll cover everything so that you’ll understand what’s involved when your child goes to sit their assessments.

Keep reading to find out more!

What is NAPLAN?
When and where is NAPLAN held?
What’s involved?
Studying for NAPLAN

What is NAPLAN?

When you go to the official NAP website, you get this…


For some of you, this is pretty straight forward. For others, this paragraph is confusing and just raises more questions:

  • Do they sit there for an entire day completing these tests?
  • Didn’t my child just tell me NAPLAN goes for a week?
  • Is there a separate exam for spelling, grammar and punctuation? or is it all one test?
  • What does NAPLAN stand for anyway?

Let’s unpack that official answer.

The NAPLAN (short for the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) is a set of four or five tests that students must sit over three days in Term 2 every year.

It is run by the educational organisation ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority) and is hosted by all Public, Private and Christian schools across Australia. Students in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9 complete NAPLAN.

This graphic explains what each of the assessments involve over the three days:

NAPLAN infographic

When and where is NAPLAN held?

Students typically sit NAPLAN in school halls or large classrooms in year groups. Classroom Teachers and Principals monitor children and young adults, and can be called on for advice in understanding a question or particular word meanings within each test.

With the introduction of NAPLAN Online, schools are looking to transition to have students complete computer-based assessments instead of the paper-based tests. Whether your child completes the paper-based test or does their assessments online, this will depend on the school in which they are enrolled.

For updates on when key NAPLAN exams will be held each year, click here.

What’s involved?

There are four tests for students to undertake in the Year 3 and 5 NAPLAN, while there are five for Years 7 and 9. These include the following areas:

NAPLAN Structure

Language Conventions examines a child’s mastery of Australian English grammar, spelling and language understanding, as this is the main dialect used in the country. Questions are either multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank.

Writing encompasses each student’s knowledge of how to combine language, formal writing formats and imagination into a short, concise piece of original text. Each student is given a ‘writing stimulus’ and a lined booklet to write in, including planning space.

In the Reading, students are provided with a magazine which includes a wide range of text types they will have encountered previously in their education. This is accompanied by a booklet containing both multiple choice and short answer questions corresponding to each text in the magazine.

The Year 3 and Year 5 Numeracy section is one exam. Children use their mathematical fluency and problem-solving skills to answer multiple choice, short answer, and fill-in-the-blank questions.

Year 7 and Year 9 Numeracy consists of two exams. The first is known as a non-calculator, and is similar to the Year 3 and 5 test. The second is the calculator allowed, requiring the provision of and for students to use, a ‘scientific calculator’.

We’ve created guides for each of the year groups completing the NAPLAN so you and your child know exactly what to expect:

Studying for NAPLAN

It is important to note here that students are highly discouraged from ‘studying’ for the test, because the simple fact is you cannot. Content changes from year to year and students can only prepare using their personal reading, writing grammar, and number skills.

You can find out more from the NAP site here!

Though if you are looking for practice tests to get an understanding of the format of NAPLAN, there are plenty that you can find here, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to your child when they need to sit their assessments.

Further Information

Looking for more information? Want to check out some test examples? Click on the links to articles and official websites below!


Are you looking for some extra help with NAPLAN?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational NAPLAN coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years 3-9 for NAPLAN, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!

Erin Borg is an Art of Smart coach with over 5 years’ experience tutoring young children, adult learners and everyone in between. She has written programs and resources for both Art of Smart Education and MyEd, including Student Needs Assessments and Flying Start. Now a former student, Erin graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2016 with a double bachelor in Education and Arts. Receiving the faculty medal for her First Class Honours work in parent-teacher communication, her passion for excellence and guiding others has lead her down the exhilarating, yet terrifying, road of a qualified primary school teacher.

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