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2010 HSC in Review

The 2010 NSW Higher School Certificate was a record breaker with over 70,000 candidates and, for the first time, over a half a million exam papers attempted.

Using technology to improve the HSC

  • 53,493 (up from 41,913 in 2009) HSC students used Students Online the Board’s website designed specifically for HSC students.  Over 250,000 logins were recorded in 2010 for Students Online
  • The HSC Question of the Day, posted on the Board’s news blog during the HSC exams, received almost 22,000 hits.
  • In 2010, onscreen marking, where exam responses are scanned into computers to be read by markers who then enter marks directly into the computer, comprised over 23 percent of all HSC and SC exam marks.
  • 2010 was the first year in which online marking was used for subjects other than mathematics.

Supporting HSC Students

  • The Board of Studies was a sponsor of the Sydney Morning Herald HSC and Careers Expo in 2010.  Almost 16,000 people attended the three-day Expo, 6,000 more than in 2009.
  • Calls to the HSC Advice Line fell from 1,639 to 1,177.

The scope of HSC exams

  • For the first time, in 2010 more than a half a million examination papers were attempted. It was also the first year that HSC candidature exceeded 70,000 students.
  • There were 102 examinable Board Developed HSC Courses, and 11 VET Industry Curriculum Framework Examinations.
  • Of these exams, 52 were by written exam only.
  • 10 require the submission of a project or performance in addition to a written exam.
  • In the 48 languages courses, a speaking examination is required.
  • In two courses, the examination is solely by way of a project or performance.

Preparing for the exams

  • Over 14 million printed pages divided among 350 individual products – including exam papers and exam response papers – were used in the 2010 HSC examinations. All paper used in the printing of HSC exams carried the Forest Stewardship Council guarantee.
  • Preparation for the 2010 HSC exams began in November 2009.
  • This preparation included the development of exam papers and marking guidelines for 114 examination papers, in 97 courses.
  • 13 small-candidature language course examination papers were set by agencies in other states under the Collaborative Curriculum and Assessment Framework for Languages program.
  • More than 450 people participated in the process of developing, reviewing and finalising examination papers and marking guidelines.

Catering for students’ needs

  • 5,117 (compared to 4,817 in 2009) students applied for special examination provisions (now known as Disability Provisions). Around 92 percent of these applications were fully or partially approved (compared to 95 percent in 2009).
  • In 2010, all decisions about special provisions were provided electronically.

Conducting the exams

  • Written exams were conducted over 18 days (compared to 17 days in 2009).
  • In 2010, two errors in examination papers were identified (one in Business Studies, one in Ancient History). Neither error impacted on students’ ability to answer the questions. A further issue was raised in regard to the Chemistry examination. Again, there was no apparent impact on the ability of students to answer the question.

HSC Exam Integrity

  • The number of breaches of exam rules remained very low in 2010 – under 1 percent of the total candidature.  See Maintaining HSC exam integrity for further details.

Marking the exams

  • 5,802 people were appointed to mark HSC examinations in 2010.
  • 900 markers were appointed to mark practical examinations or projects.
  • 416 markers were appointed as judges to oversee the standards-setting process (the process by which a student’s final mark is determined).
  • Marking took place in 14 venues across the state.

After the exams

  • In 2010, 4,631 appeals for illness/misadventure were received. Almost 90 percent were fully or partially upheld.
  • 2 out of 11 student appeals in regard to assessment rank were upheld.
  • 38 students across 54 courses appealed their ‘N’ determination (where their school has determined that the student has not met the requirements of a course). Eight appeals were upheld in total or in part.
  • 9 students were sanctioned for serious breaches of HSC examination rules; 63 for reproducing the work of others; and 186 for not making a serious attempt at the examination.
  • 62,844 students chose to receive their results electronically (web, SMS or telephone).
  • 3,680 calls were logged in the HSC Inquiry Centre following the release of results. This is a 49 percent reduction from 2009.
  • The HSC Results Check service and the HSC Raw Marks and Examination Responses trial services have now closed for 2010 HSC students.
  • In 2010, 70,448 students received a result in at least one HSC course.
  • 65,146 students were awarded the HSC.
  • 54,242 students were eligible to receive a UAI/ATAR.
  • 107 individual students (70 female and 37 male) received awards for coming first in 108 courses.
  • 7 students were placed first in two courses.

What did students think?

  • The Board of Studies conducts a survey of HSC students via the Students Online website after the HSC exams are completed.
  • In 2010, 2,195 students completed the survey.
  • 67 percent of respondents were female; most (63 percent) came from a metropolitan area and 59 percent had attended a government school.
  • Over 60 percent of the respondents were in the top two bands for all their HSC courses, compared to 39 percent of all HSC students in NSW.
  • Many of the respondents had used resources developed by the Board of Studies to help prepare them for the HSC.
    • 95 percent of respondents found past HSC exam papers to be useful or very useful; over 90 percent found the syllabuses to be useful or very useful.
    • Eleven percent of respondents found the Advice Line to be useful or very useful. Almost half the respondents said they had chosen to not use the Advice Line.
  • Students were also asked about information they were provided at school in relation to their assessment program and ethical scholarship:
    • 94 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they had received information about the dates assessment tasks were due.
    • 85 percent agreed or strongly agreed they had received information about how to avoid plagiarism.
  • Respondents generally found their courses challenging (76 percent agreed or strongly agreed), or interesting (77 percent), while 69 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the HSC examination was a fair test.

Download the 2010 HSC Student Survey report (9 pages, PDF, 231KB)

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