Background notes about HSC exam rule breaches
Last updated October 2013.
Every year a small number of HSC students are reported to the Board for breaching examination rules. A breach of examination rules occurs when a student introduces unauthorised notes or equipment, or is otherwise disrespectful of the examination conditions. The breach of examination rules is deemed to be malpractice when the student uses the unauthorised notes or equipment to gain an unfair advantage in the examination.
All reported cases are investigated by Board officers. Minor breaches are dealt with during marking or by a warning. Cases of potential malpractice are referred to the Examination Rules Committee (ERC), a subcommittee of the Board of Studies. The ERC may impose penalties including zero marks for the exam or cancellation of the course. Typically the number of referred cases is between 10 and 20. Students know they are taking an extreme risk if they choose to breach examination rules. The Board’s penalties for exam breaches are well known and include losing all or part of the marks for a course, cancellation of a course and possible loss of the HSC.
Students found to have memorised an essay that is not their own and then reproduced it during an exam are usually dealt with during the marking process, with students typically receiving no marks for unoriginal work.
The Board also employs many measures to prevent students from engaging in plagiarism and malpractice. All HSC students must:
- complete a mandatory online ethical scholarship program called All My Own Work
- sign a confirmation of entry form (PDF) when starting the HSC program, declaring that they are aware of the consequences of plagiarism and malpractice, including the potential loss of their HSC
- sign a declaration for all HSC major projects, requiring the student, their teacher and principal to agree that the work submitted is the student’s own work and that all outside sources have been acknowledged.
Students are advised in writing, well in advance, about exam rules. The rules are also read out at the start of each exam by the independent supervisors. Advice includes:
- Students can only bring into the exam room equipment that is on the approved list they are given well before the exams start.
- Students cannot bring notes, paper, unauthorised material or any communication or electronic devices into an exam.
- If students accidentally bring study notes, a mobile phone or other prohibited items into the exam, they are given the opportunity to remove them without penalty before the exam starts.
Students recognise there are serious consequences if they break examination rules. The Board’s advice to HSC students is to put in a consistent effort throughout the year and make sure any work submitted is based on their own words and ideas.