Brief Overview of Competitions for Australian students

A boy in school about to take a testTwo of the main criticisms aimed at homeschoolers, apart from the socialisation issue, are that of not having done many exams and thus being unfamiliar with how to approach exams, and working under time pressure to complete tasks. Universities in particular find this to be relevant with homeschooling students.

Thus, to combat this, I have entered my daughter, Princess (now 11 years old) in the Australian Mathematics Competition each year since grade 3 and also this last year the Australian History Competition and the Australian Geography Competition. I am always on the lookout for ways to help in this regard. Thus, I have compiled a list of Australian competitions for 2015. Please note – this list is not exhaustive. It was compiled after a brief time of googling various subjects.

Australian History Competition:

  • 50 multiple choice questions with time limit of 45 minutes.
  • Cost: $30 admin fee and $6 per student
  • For year 8 & year 10 students
  • Closing date – 31st March 2015.
  • Exam date – 27th May 2015

National History Challenge:

  • 2015 Theme: “Leadership and Legacy”.
  • Type: Either an individual research essay, a museum exhibit or another format eg ,multimedia, performance, website etc

The Simpson Prize:

  • For students in years 9 & 10.
  • 2015 Question: “To what extent did Australians enlist in 1914 to defend the ‘Mother Country’?”
  • Students are to respond to the question using both the 2015 Simpson Prize Australian War Memorial Source Selection and their own research. It is expected that students will make effective use of a minimum of 3 of the sources. It is also expected that up to half of their response will make use of information drawn from their own knowledge and research.
  • Entries need to be submitted during semester 1
  • Essay word limit:1200-1500 words, not including supplementary information such as a contents page, references, bibliography and appendices.
  • Audio Visual Presentation word and time limit: No more than 10 minutes accompanied by a written explanation of up to 400 words.
  • State Prize winner: Fully paid Trip to Canberra and also to Turkey or the Western Front

Australian Geography Competition:

  • 35 minute multiple choice exam.
  • Cost: $3
  • Entry deadline: 27th February 2015.
  • Exam date: 23rd March – 1st April.
  • Categories: Junior (13 & under), Intermediate (14 & 15 year olds), Senior (16-18 year olds)

Australian Mathematics Competition:

  • Exam date: Thursday 30th July 2015
  • 30 problems in 60 minutes years 3-6. 75 minutes for years 7-12.
  • Cost: $6 per student.

The Big Science Competition:

  • One hour multiple choice competition, online and pen and paper formats available.
  • Tests critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Years 7 to 12.
  • Cost $7.50 for the pen & paper format, $7 online.
  • Registrations close 29th April 2015.

National Science Week – RACI (Royal Australian Chemical Institute Vic Branch) Essay Writing Competition:

  • For Tertiary and Secondary School students.
  • Closing date for 2015 yet to be decided.
  • Cost free
  • The title of the essay is: “Does Chemistry have a Future?”
  • Essays are to be no longer than 1000 words and must be original work.

Science Competition:

  • 30 multiple choice questions to be completed in 1 hour.
  • Junior years 7-8, Intermediate years 9-10, Senior years 11-12

BHP Billiton:

  • Both primary and secondary students submit a project based on your own experimental data into the experiment, research or investigation category of your local STA Awards or you submit an invention with written support material into the invention or engineering category of your local STA Awards or successfully complete a science project in the Blue, Silver or Gold category of the CSIRO CREST Awards.

Science Poetry Competition:

  • 3 Divisions: 9-11 years, 12-14 years and 15+.
  • Entries close June 15, 2015.
  • Cost $5.50

Australian Brain Bee Challenge: (

  • Free Registration.
  • It is a competition for high school students in years 10 (Australia) and 11 (New Zealand) to learn about the brain and its functions, learn about neuroscience research, find out about careers in neuroscience and to dispel misconceptions about neurological and mental illnesses.
  • There are 4 Rounds to the Australia-New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge.
  • Round 1 is held during Brain Awareness Week. Students study the book “Neuroscience: Science of the Brain. An Introduction for Young Students” by The British Neuroscience Association (BNA) and European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB). They then complete an on-line quiz to determine their knowledge and understanding of the structure and function of the brain.

Student Writing Yes magazine:

  • The Writing Prompt – “Think about the things you worry about. What is one worry you’d like to throw away? What would you replace your worry with, and what would you—and possibly those around you— gain by not having that worry in your life?”
  • Maximum 700 words.
  • 2 Divisions: grades 6-8 & grades 9-12.
  • Register by January 14, 2015.
  • Entries must be submitted by February 18th, 2015.

Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards:

  • Poetry writing competition
  • Entries between 1st March – 30th June 2015
  • Cost $15. Only allowed one entry per person
  • Prize: $300-$500 winner, runner-up $150-$300
  • Divisions: K-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-9, Grades 10-12, learning assistance students,

The Queens Commonwealth Essay Competition:

  • Deadline: 1st May 2015

Junior Category for those born after 1st May 2001 (under 14 years)

  • Essay topics: (maximum 750 words)
  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being young?
  2. Imagine what the world will be like when you are an old person.
  3. I am the future!
  4. Imagine you are a young person living in a different part of the Commonwealth. What is life like for you?

Senior Category – for those born between 2nd May 1996 and 1st May 2001 (14-18 years)

  • Essay topics: (maximum 1500 words)
  1. What do you hope to achieve in your lifetime?
  2. In 2030 you will no longer be young. What changes would you like to see in the world in 15 years’ time?
  3. Youth versus experience.
  4. Fresh perspectives. What can a young Commonwealth offer?

Non competitive events:

Halogen Foundation: (

  • Day seminars for both primary and secondary students run in most capital cities with guest speakers.
  • Cost: $46-51 per student. $20 adult
  • Melbourne Primary Seminar: 13th March 2015.
  • Guest speakers so far – Bindi Irwin & Andy Griffiths

Broadway in a Week (Melbourne based) (

  • A musical for students from senior primary to VCE to participate in.
  • Auditions are held 21st  & 22nd February 2015
  • Workshop & practices: 7-11 April 2015.
  • Performance: 12th April 2015
  • Cost $210

Further Study (Open University study with free courses)  


If you know of any other competitions or great events for children / teenagers, can you please let me know.  I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

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