Examinations

Below is a chronological list of major 'public' examinations connected with the government school system in NSW from 1867 onward.

In most cases these examinations were also undertaken by students from non-government schools.

YearExaminations
1867Junior and senior public examinations were established, set and marked by University of Sydney. These examinations defined the secondary school course and tested the efficiency of its teaching.
1911The qualifying certificate examination was first held, conducted by the Department of Education and externally set and marked. This examination was designed to mark the completion of the primary school course and select pupils best fitted for further education in high schools and super-primary schools. The qualifying certificate also assisted with the allocation of bursaries.
1912

The intermediate certificate was examination first held and conducted by the Board of Examiners, whose members included officers of University of Sydney and Department of Education. The examination was taken at the end of the second secondary school and was externally set and marked. From 1919 the examination was taken after three years of secondary work.

The evening continuation certificate examination was also first held, conducted by the Department of Education and sat at the end of two-year course.

1913The Leaving Certificate examination was first held and conducted by the Board of Examiners. This examination was taken at the end of the high school course and was externally set and marked.
1914The first superior public school certificate examinations first held and conducted by the Department of Education. It also consisted of commercial, junior technical and domestic science certificate examinations. At first these examinations were taken at the end of two-year courses, but from 1918 these courses were gradually extended to three years.
1913Council of Parents and Citizens Associations in New South Wales formed; membership open to Parents and Citizens Associations, parent groups associated with non-government schools and parents and citizens who were not members of parent groups. Its major aim was to concentrate the strength of parent groups to give a more effective voice in educational matters. The Council operated until about 1920.
1922The qualifying certificate was awarded for last time in 1922 because of the rise of internal school tests. In its original form, the qualifying certificate no longer served as an entrance test for competitive high school places or for the award of bursaries.

The high school entrance and bursary examination first held, and was an external examination conducted by the Department of Education.
1923

Permit to enrol examinations were first held and set externally, with the examinations marked by teachers according to scales supplied by Department of Education. The permit to enrol certificate allowed pupils to enrol in any super-primary school where places were not competitive, or in 7th class at primary schools where no alternative provisions were available.

The high school entrance and bursary examination continued to be restricted to those seeking bursaries or competitive positions in high schools or intermediate high schools.

1930Primary final examinations were first held, superseding the permit to enrol and high school entrance and bursary examinations. Candidates seeking bursaries or admission to high schools had their papers marked externally by inspectors of schools, and other students had their papers marked by committees of teachers.
1932The Intermediate Certificate examination became the examination for all junior secondary courses.
1937The Board of Examiners was replaced by Board of Secondary School Studies, which had representatives from universities, the Department of Education, and both government and non-government schools. The new Board took responsibility for the intermediate and leaving certificate examinations.
1938In regional areas, the primary final examination was replaced by intelligence testing and assessment of work in 6th class. In Sydney, Parramatta and Newcastle the high school entrance component of the primary final examination was retained for those seeking admission to high, intermediate high and junior high schools. This was because positions remained competitive for schools in these areas, and among students seeking bursaries.
1943The high school entrance component of primary final examination was replaced by system based intelligence testing and assessment of work in 6th class.
1945The Evening Continuation Certificate examination was held for last time.
1949The Intermediate Certificate was granted to pupils by recommendation of principals in schools approved by Board of Secondary School Studies. 'Approved' schools were those classified under the Department of Education, registered under the Bursary Endowment Act 1912, and those recognised by the Bursary Endowment Board as qualified to prepare candidates for the intermediate certificate. Bursary and scholarship seekers, private candidates and those from 'not approved' schools had to sit an external examination.
1963The last Intermediate Certificate examination was held under old system of secondary education. However, an 'Intermediate' examination was held until 1966 based on the third year of the Wyndham Scheme course.
1965The School Certificate examination first held at end of the fourth year of the secondary course, conducted by the Secondary Schools Board (established 1961) and externally set and marked.
1966The last Leaving Certificate examination was held.
1967The Higher School Certificate (HSC) examination first held, conducted by Board of Senior School Studies (established 1961) and externally set and marked.
1968The School Certificate awarded on 50 per cent school assessment and 50 per cent external examination.
1973The school certificate awarded on 75 per cent school assessment and 25 per cent external examination.
1975The School Certificate was awarded solely on school assessment with moderation to maintain comparability of grades based on state-wide reference tests, school-selected reference tests, regional marking of selected work samples, or teacher consortium assessment.
1977The moderating examination for school certificate held only in mathematics and English.
The HSC was awarded for first time on basis of 50 per cent external examination and 50 per cent moderated school estimate.
1986For the first time the HSC included a school assessment component. Separate marks were given for examination and moderated school assessment.
1987With responsibility for both the School Certificate and the HSC, the Board of Secondary Education replaced the Secondary Schools Board and Board of Senior School Studies.
1990Course performance descriptors were designed for school assessment of students in all subjects other than English, mathematics and science.
1994The implementation of 'HSC Pathways' increased flexibility for HSC study. It allowed for part-time study and work, repetition of individual courses to upgrade results, accelerated progression, recognition for prior learning and credit transfer towards future education or training.
1997Along with the McGaw Report recommending changes to the HSC, the NSW government's White Paper also proposed reforms, which were to be implemented from Year 11 in 2000.
1998

The School Certificate reference tests were replaced by external tests in English-literacy and mathematics that were to be conducted each November. Two trial tests were also held – one in science and one covering Australian history, geography, civics and citizenship.

A standards referenced approach to marking and reporting students’ achievements was introduced to the external tests.

1999Science added to the mandatory external School Certificate tests.
2001As a result of the McGaw report, a standards referenced approach to assessment and reporting of student achievements in each subject was introduced into the HSC. Equal contribution of school based assessment and public examinations to students’ final results remained.
2002A test covering Australian history, geography, civics and citizenship was added to the mandatory external School Certificate tests.
2012The Record of School Achievement (RoSA) replaced the School Certificate. The RoSA is awarded to students who leave school after Year 10 and before completing the HSC. It is a cumulative credential – it records academic achievement up until the date a student leaves school and is based on moderated, school-based assessments.
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