What is NAPLAN

Table of Contents

NAPLAN (The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) is given a lot of attention in the media and the community even when it’s not the national testing season. As a parent, this brings you to anticipate it in one way or another. But what exactly is NAPLAN? How much does it influence your child’s future?

To learn more about the Australian Curriculum, read here.

Wondering what is ATAR? Read here for more information.

What is NAPLAN_Challenges of NAPLAN Exam Preparation

What is the Purpose of NAPLAN?

It might surprise you that NAPLAN is not connected to the Australian curriculum. Therefore, it’s not an evaluation of the content that students learn on a daily basis. Instead, it is a general assessment of literacy and numeracy proficiency.

The purpose of the test is to provide a snapshot of how young learners around the country answer a particular set of maths and English test questions. The results are expected to represent how your kid has progressed so far in their years at school, not what they learned in the days leading up to the test.

On top of seeing a child’s individual progress, particularly in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9, NAPLAN results serve as a natural benchmark for student and school performance in literacy and numeracy. The data enables experts and authorities patterns and trends that are prevalent in the community and how they influence one’s educational achievements.

If you’re interested to know more, you can view the archive for NAPLAN results here.

What Will Be Tested in NAPLAN?

Reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy are the key areas to be tested in NAPLAN.

Reading Test

This component evaluates a child’s ability to read and comprehend a range of texts. You can expect students to encounter various types of texts, including narrative and persuasive texts, and are asked questions that evaluate their understanding and interpretation.

Language Conventions

This part is anchored on the rules and conventions of language, including spelling, grammar, and punctuation. For the most part, children are asked to identify and correct errors in written passages, demonstrating their comprehension of language conventions.


Numeracy looks to gauge mathematical skills and understanding. This section focuses on various mathematical concepts such as algebra, measurement and statistics. In the exam, Students are tasked to interpret data, solve problems, and demonstrate mathematical reasoning.


This component assesses a student’s ability to express themselves through written communication. During this part of the exam, students are typically required to produce a written response, which may include narrative or persuasive writing. Their output is evaluated for aspects such as spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the overall structure and coherence of the writing.

What is NAPLAN_Australian Primary School Students

How Does NAPLAN Assess Students?

NAPLAN tests are now exclusively taken online in every school across Australia. The local administrators are provided with updated technical instructions and requirements to ensure tests run smoothly for all students, including those with disabilities.

The online assessments are adaptive to each student’s responses, which are designed to lead each student to a different path with varying degree of difficulty according to their concurrent knowledge and skill.

The individual results are based on both the number and difficulty of the questions the student answered correctly. Thus, an examinee who completes a more complex set of questions is more likely to reach a higher grade, while a student who clears the same number of inquiries correctly, but takes a less complex pathway, will attain a lower mark.

Lastly, take note that most questions in the exams are based on the literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills that students have learnt from previous years of schooling. There are also a few questions designed to evaluate additional content from the year of testing and that of the following year.

Does NAPLAN Affect Your Grades?

The short answer is no. NAPLAN itself does not directly affect a student’s grades. The results of NAPLAN are not used to assign individual grades or determine a student’s academic promotion or retention.

Instead, the main objective of NAPLAN is to provide information on student performance, support school and system improvement, and offer insights into national and regional trends in literacy and numeracy.

On the other hand, while NAPLAN doesn’t impact a student’s grade, it can be used by educators to improve general or individual teaching strategies. Parents are also afforded access to NAPLAN results to get insight into their child’s academic performance and progress. As a parent, the results will allow you to see learning areas where your child is doing well or needs attention, and take action accordingly.

What is NAPLAN_Taking the NAPLAN exam

Is It Compulsory to Take NAPLAN?

While taking the assessment has its benefits, NAPLAN isn’t compulsory. Parents or guardians can choose to withdraw their child from the pool and sit out the exam.

If you choose to withdraw your child from NAPLAN, schools will typically need you to inform them in advance. In addition, each school might have specific procedures in place for handling such requests, and it’s advisable for parents to discuss any concerns or questions with the administration when it comes to NAPLAN participation or withdrawal.

How Many NAPLAN Tests are There?

The four NAPLAN tests in reading, writing, numeracy and language conventions are taken by students in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9. The program is run by the educational organisation ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority) and is hosted by all public, private and Christian schools across the country.

The test is done in the school over a period of 2 to 3 days although NAPLAN does promote a 9-day window for students who are absent when their class takes the exam. The length of each test varies, but an updated framework is provided in the NAPLAN website ahead of any scheduled assessments.

Is There a Way to Prepare for NAPLAN?

You can probably imagine that sitting through the NAPLAN test for the first time as a Year 3 student can be daunting. If anything, preparing your child for the exam can be focused on setting expectations and making them comfortable with the format of the exam.

Also, before we continue, we’d like to note that students are highly discouraged from ‘studying’ for the test. The content also changes annually, so that students are truly able to showcase their individual level of understanding on literacy and numeracy at the time of the exam.

But if your child is feeling worried or anxious, you can try to have a positive conversation about the upcoming tests. Ask them about their reservations and anchor your approach based on that main concern. Other tips for preparing your kid for NAPLAN are as follows:

Understand the NAPLAN format

As a parent, you can start by understanding the format of NAPLAN. This includes the content of the exam, the four topics being covered, the time allotted for each section and the examination format. You can visit NAPLAN’s website or coordinate with the school administration to get a more relevant picture of what the upcoming exam would look like.

To give you an idea, NAPLAN questions are noticeably different from what students normally encounter at school. The questionnaire may not even account for the current lessons being taught at the time of the exam. Thus, it’s known to catch a few kids off guard.

NAPLAN also features a lot of multiple-choice questions, which takes an approach that predominantly involves a process of elimination and application of logic. It’s good to keep that in mind, along with the fact that the exams are strictly time-bound, which young kids might get apprehensive about.

Have Your Child Take Practice Exams

Here’s where the internet becomes most useful when it comes to NAPLAN: practice exam samples. You can scour the internet or the NAPLAN website for a copy of previous NAPLAN sample exams. This should help you and your child get a better feel of what to expect when it comes to the format and scope of the tests.

Aside from getting them familiarised with NAPLAN questions, you can use the practice runs to get a sense of what your child is feeling about the process, which might naturally explain the results or reactions. Give them feedback and ask them where they need support.

Just note that NAPLAN tests change annually. So conditioning them too hard on previous exams might work against them in some way.

Summing up

NAPLAN is not a conventional pass/fail test yet it gets so much attention when it comes around, especially among parents who are sometimes more invested in the short-term results than the overarching goal of identifying where their child is at in the grander spectrum.

With that in mind, we recommend parents to focus more on their child’s effort and not the outcome, especially if they are taking the exam for the first time. With some positive encouragement, they might become more inclined to do well themselves the next opportunity they get.