Rethinking NAPLAN: Why date changes may be a step towards more effective learning 

Everyone’s favourite (or not) standardised test has shifted to March 15, two months earlier than previous years. But what does this mean for our kids? Dr Selina Samuels has the answers.

rethinking NAPLAN date change
Cluey Learning Tuesday, 28 February 2023

With only a couple of weeks left until NAPLAN 2023, student’s anxiety levels may be on the rise.  Cluey Chief Learning officer, Dr Selina Samuels, assures us that the new date is actually a welcome change.

“The advantage of this, is that teachers now have more time in the year to use the data gathered to address their students’ learning needs and help them improve if need be,” she said. “That makes the tests more relevant as a diagnostic as well as a benchmarking tool.”  

Other key changes to NAPLAN 2023 will include the existing triennial NAP Sample assessments for Years 6 and 10 in science, civics and citizenship, and digital literacy moving from Term 3 to Term 2. New annual assessments in these subjects for these years will be available as opt-in assessments for any school or system. They will be phased in over three years.

“The NAP sample assessments are designed to create benchmarks for these important and rapidly growing areas of knowledge across the country,” said Dr Samuels.

“This is a key way – arguably, the only way – to establish clearly what is being taught and identify the areas that need more attention and resources. The selection of these particular subjects in addition to literacy and numeracy already included in NAPLAN demonstrates their importance in preparing young people for the future.” 

Dr Samuels says one of the main challenges with NAPLAN is to ensure that students do not go unprepared into tests. “Stress and anxiety go along with lack of preparation. This is a particular concern for younger students.

“It is valuable to give students enough time to grasp and consolidate the literacy and numeracy concepts and skills that are tested in NAPLAN by preparing at least a few weeks in advance. NAPLAN is not just about testing it is about students mastering these key skills that are foundational for further study. There is also value in ensuring that students are prepared for the format of the tests so that they can show what they know.”

Dr Samuels said it is a good idea for students to familiarise themselves with previous NAPLAN tests. “They can then learn how to navigate multiple-choice questions, structure and edit written responses, and learn how to unpack wordy maths questions. The way NAPLAN questions are structured may not be something they’ve encountered before.

“Familiarity with the test format is the best way to dispel anxiety and build confidence. Our tutors ensure students get lots of practice with NAPLAN-style questions and provide feedback. Our aim is to help them build literacy and numeracy skills for life, not just for NAPLAN.”



  • Ask your child’s teachers to explain the school’s approach to NAPLAN preparation. For those in Years 5, 7, and 9, it’s worth looking at their past NAPLAN results. Are there key literacy or numeracy skills that would benefit from focused attention?
  • Identify gaps in their learning and get kids up to speed with essential skills such as good time management, reading multi-part questions and planning answers.
  • Become familiar with NAPLAN-style questions. This helps dispel the uncertainty around NAPLAN especially in the lead up to exams. 
  • Encourage children to look for ‘quick wins’ when they are answering multiple-choice questions and to avoid getting stuck on single items for too long. Cultivate a growth mindset and view NAPLAN as a positive experience. It’s not a test to pass or fail but an opportunity for your child to show growth and apply exam skills that have been developed, either at school or through tutoring.

Reach out if something unexpected is revealed in the results. The more you understand where your child sits, the better equipped you can be to take action if your child needs to catch up, keep up or excel.

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