As the world’s global language and arguably one of the most important subjects of the Australian curriculum, English is a crucial building block for academic success.

Assess school students’ English language skills and literacy with the ICAS English exam

In recognition of the subject’s educational importance, ICAS English Assessments are designed to provide an objective ranking of students’ performance based on the English curricula for the relevant year. Skills such as everyday literacy, critical and creative thinking, and clear communication not only help you do well in the humanities — they also underpin every other area of your academic, social and professional life.

In particular, understanding, evaluating and creating texts are some of the most vital skills in the modern world. But this doesn’t just mean the great classics like Shakespeare and Dickens that have been studied for centuries. Texts are all around us: from articles and posts in your social media feed to the billboards at train stations and the digital conversations you have with your friends.

More than simply an English competition, ICAS English Assessments consist of questions written and reviewed every year by expert educators. Papers are carefully graded to stimulate interest and learning across a wide range of abilities, including gifted and talented students. Participants learn how to better articulate their own thoughts by analysing a variety of different texts. Questions are designed to test understanding of English language aspects, such as:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • comprehension
  • structure
  • syntax
  • voice.

In turn, students receive a unique academic experience designed to challenge their abilities beyond the classroom, a greater understanding of where their strengths and areas of improvement lie, and recognition and encouragement of academic success.


Year 2 to Year 6 ICAS English Assessments

The primary school level papers of ICAS English exams challenge and extend high-achieving students while reinforcing key English literacy skills in these crucial earlier years of language development. Students read a variety of texts which narrate, describe, explain, argue, persuade and review. The texts increase in complexity within each paper as well as between the papers, which are each designed according to the respective stage of the national Australian curriculum.

The Introductory paper, for students in the equivalent of Year 2, assesses concepts such as parts of speech, tense and agreement, rhyme and simple figurative language. Questions may require students to interpret the meaning of a word, restate a writer’s idea, or infer a character’s feeling from dialogue.

ICAS English tests more sophisticated skills as school students progress through the years. For example, in Paper A (Year 3), students may be asked to identify different text types, understand sequences of events or analyse texts to understand the writer’s point of view. Papers B and C (Years 4 and 5) assess knowledge of English literary techniques, ability to interpret tables and diagrams, and judgment of character, contrast and inferred meaning.

Finally, in Paper D (Year 6), in addition to more advanced questions on complex punctuation, rhetorical devices and homonyms, questions may require students to explain the development of a character or opinion, analyse the grammatical relationship indicated by a connective or evaluate a text’s use of humour.

Year 7 to Year 12 ICAS English Assessments

The high school level papers of ICAS English exams challenge and extend high-achieving school students while preparing them for the advanced level of textual analysis required in senior years across all subjects. Students read a variety of texts which narrate, describe, explain, argue, persuade and review. The texts increase in complexity within each paper as well as between the papers, which are each designed according to the respective stage of the national Australian curriculum.

Papers E and F, for students in the equivalent of Year 7 and Year 8, use more complex texts to assess English skills described in the lower papers, as well as new areas such as types of clauses, modality, idiomatic language and authorial intent. For example, questions may require students to analyse how an argument could be more effective, infer the central motivation of a character, or extrapolate the meaning of words from the same semantic family.

Papers G through to J (Years 9 to 12) prepare students for their last years of schooling, including final exams, with complex texts that discuss abstract concepts and use sophisticated English language structures. Questions may require students to explain the effects of irony, perspective or even layout, evaluate the writer’s relationship with the audience, or synthesise the ideas from a text to make a new analogy or predict a future outcome. While senior high school students often set aside some of their previous extracurricular activities, ICAS tests provide valuable assessment experience and performance insights, especially in English, a compulsory subject in many states’ HSC examinations.

“The thing I love most about ICAS is getting to try challenging questions that I wouldn’t normally get to try in school.”
Sasha
Year 11, English, 2021
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