Iím not sure if Iíve understood your post correctly, but my understanding is that University courses are demanding but generally the atmosphere of competitiveness is not there. Maintaining a high GPA requires achieving high marks but in the handful of universities where I have social contacts, Iíve not heard of any instances where a student with a high GPA couldnít enrol in a further degree because they were competitively beaten out by others with higher GPA scores (Iím not saying it hasnít happened but itís nothing like the education arms race of OC/SS/HSC). On the other hand, there are 18 000 UMAT candidates competing for only about 1500 domestic places for undergraduate medicine (half the courses are now postgrad for which the GAMSAT exam is applicable) and even fewer dental places. My daughter has Uni peers who were heavily coached to achieve the HSC marks to get into their medicine course, who are now satisfied with marginal pass grades because at the end of the course, that is enough to get them their medical degree (very cynical approach to life IMO).

WRT to the extremely competitive tests to get into opportunity classes, for each of the maths, English & aptitude tests, there are 35 questions per paper with 30 minutes allowed. Success requires extremely (almost ridiculously) tight time management for kids as young as 8. It is in this context that I make the observation that many schools are really cautious about arranging for extra time. I suspect that if they allow 45 minutes for each paper, the make up of these classes would be different - more students with innate abilities who havenít been coached (OC & SS teachers have confided these same suspicions to me). Therefore, I favour less time restrictions, but generally there has been little resistance to restrictions because contrary to sifting for the really top students, it gives others a better chance because improved speed is more amenable through coaching than other facets of intelligence.