About 7000 year 11 students will sit a new critical thinking exam this year, which has been developed as universities and employers stress jobs of the future will require more than the traditional subjects taught in the Higher School Certificate.
The optional 90-minute online test includes 60 questions that assess logical reasoning and analytical reasoning skills, and students get a detailed report on how they performed in relation to their peers and the areas they need to improve.
"[The NSW Education Standards Authority] is offering the test to year 11 students to provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking capabilities and receive feedback before starting their HSC year," NESA's chief executive David de Carvalho said.
"The test assesses a student's ability to interpret ideas, identify arguments, detect inconsistencies in reasoning and solve problems, capabilities that are widely considered essential for students at school, university, in the workplace and other life contexts."
The test does not relate to syllabus content and doesn't require additional study or preparation, according to NESA.
About 2500 students at 37 schools participated in an initial trial of the test last year, and a larger statewide trial will be completed on August 11.
NESA will use feedback from the trials to refine questions and the way results are reported, and decide whether to make it an ongoing test from 2018.
"[The trial] will assist us in further determining the relative standards of each [test] item and the overall standard, and to give each student an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities," a NESA spokesman said.
He said there were no plans to make the assessment mandatory.
However, Mr de Carvalho said he was encouraging "all schools to participate in the trial and give their students the opportunity to receive detailed feedback on these important and valuable capabilities".
About 1000 students completed the test on July 24, the first day it was offered this year.
The NSW Department of Education is now commissioning research from the world's leading experts in artificial intelligence and education systems of the future.
The department's top bureaucrat, Mark Scott, said students would need to be as skilled in critical thinking, creativity and empathy as they were in literacy and numeracy and technology.
A new report by the Foundation for Young Australians released this week led to calls for an "urgent rethinking of education" to provide students with skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, which the average worker will spend 100 per cent more time on by 2030.
"What we're teaching will need to change," executive director of the Australian Secondary Principals Association Rob Nairn said. "We have a huge focus on things like NAPLAN but we need to start looking at how we can assess things like critical thinking.
"We're graduating students who have lots of knowledge about content but what this report is saying is we need to focus more on developing those problem solving skills."
The correct answer to the sample question is D.