[Education] 3 ways to help your child with the GEP Selection Test from someone who has actually passed the test before

by Marcus Goh and Adrian Kuek


With less than 2 weeks to go for the GEP Selection Test (it’s on the 18th and 19th of October this year), if your child has gotten through the GEP Screening Test then there’s not much time left to prepare. But if you’re a parent, you’d want to help your child as much as possible. So here are three useful ways you can help your child prepare for the GEP Selection Test – if you want to help, these are the ways that will make the most impact in the shortest amount of time.

There are three components to the GEP Selection Test – English, Mathematics, and General Ability. You can think of the General Ability component as IQ questions or brain teaser type questions, and the other two are self-explanatory.

Remember to keep these exercises fun and light, rather than forcing your child to plough through yet another series of “assessment books.” When done correctly, they’ll also double up as interesting ways to broaden your child’s horizons!


1. Memorise vocabulary lists 

For regular English exams in school, you can usually infer the meanings of words from context and clues in the passage, since unknown words hardly appear in isolation. But for the GEP Selection Test, you will see a series of analogy questions in the General Ability component.

For example:

FOUR is to SQUARE as THREE is to ______





If you don’t know what a triangle is, there is no way to infer the meaning because this word appears in isolation. So you need to have a wide vocabulary in order to tackle these questions effectively. Memorising new words (and what they mean) is the quickest way to increase your knowledge in the short time there is left to prepare.

Furthermore, there’s an entire section just for vocabulary in the English component of the paper. Again, there’s no way to infer meanings from the word, so you have to know it beforehand.

Make a game out of it, and challenge your child to use the new words in conversations. That way, it will naturally be part of their vocabulary.


2. Attempt PSLE problem sums

For the Mathematics section, many of the questions are high level (for Primary 3 students) versions of Excess-Shortage, Constant-Sum/Difference, and Making a Supposition type questions. What do these mean? Here’s an example of each


Adrian goes to a stationery shop to buy pens. A red pen costs $0.90 and a blue pen costs $0.70. If Adrian spends all his money buying blue pens, he will have $0.60 leftover. However, if he buys the same number of red pens, he will need another $0.80. How much money does Adrian have?


Constable Acai has 15 badges. If Inspector Dollah gives him half of his own badges, Constable Acai will have three times the number of badges that Inspector Dollah has. How many badges does Inspector Dollah have?

Making a Supposition

Marcus goes to IKEA and buys 16 three-legged stools and regular four-legged chairs. They all use the same type of legs. He has 58 legs altogether. How many three-legged stools did he buy?

If you’re on enough parenting/education Facebook groups, you’ll notice that they’re like difficult PSLE Mathematics questions. So letting your child try out PSLE problem sums will be quite similar to trying out the Mathematics questions they have to face.

Try and change up the questions a little to make them more enjoyable for your child – use names of family members or friends, and change the items to food or toys. That’ll give them the extra motivation to figure out these high level Maths questions!

3. Attempt IQ questions or brain teasers

As mentioned, the General Ability component is quite similar to IQ tests. There are verbal question types (as seen in point 1), and non-verbal question types which frequently involve pattern recognition.

Here’s an example

Can you find the pattern? (NSW Government Education)
Can you find the pattern? (NSW Government Education)

If it looks familiar, you’re right – they can be found in many IQ question books! These pattern recognition questions aren’t difficult, but they can be if you’ve never seen them before. So one way is to let your child try out such IQ questions so that they’ll be familiar with them when they see them in the General Ability component. There are many, many ways that these pattern recognition questions can be set, so the more patterns your child knows, the better.


I hope this helps. I don’t remember my parents fussing over me as much when I got into GEP way back when, but then times have changed and the GEP tests are quite different from the ones in the 80s. To me, it was a series of puzzles that we got to do (in lieu of regular exams), and maybe that lack of pressure helped.

Also, I am rather peeved that some tutors can lie outright that they were from GEP and give fake material, so here’s some information from someone who’s been through the trenches.

So one last way to help is to get your child to see it as a series of fun puzzles to help, and ease the pressure off them!


For more ways to help your child prepare for the GEP Selection Test, check this out.


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