HSC students rise to the challenge of testing times

Year 12 students at Sydney Secondary College took day one of the HSC in their stride.

Image: Start of the journey: Isabel Morris, Oliver Short, Louis Wilson and Joe Reynolds after their first exam this morning.

There were lots of smiling faces at Blackwattle Bay as HSC students from Sydney Secondary College walked out after completing their first English exam today.

The 2021 HSC exams kicked off with around 69,000 students sitting one of the four modules of English. The afternoon session included Aboriginal Studies and a range of language exams.

After walking out of the exams, Oliver Short, from Sydney Secondary College, was relaxed about the exam as he spoke with journalists.

Oliver said any student sitting the 2021 HSC had shown an “incredible strength of character to get this far”.

“If we can get through this there shouldn’t be any other challenging situation in life going forward [that we can’t get through],” Oliver said.

While lockdown and a lack of access to teachers had been difficult he joked that one benefit of the lockdown had been that it had “kept me indoors so I would study”.

Department of Education Deputy Secretaries, School Performance, Murat Dizdar and Leanne Nixon, paid tribute to students and staff as the HSC began.

“The commitment and endurance shown over the past two years by our senior high school students in pursuing their studies during the pandemic speaks to their resilience," Ms Nixon said.

“This has not been easy, and their efforts have earned my, and the community’s, admiration.

“We wish them good luck in their exams and our best wishes for the future.”

Mr Dizdar said the success of senior high school students in making it to their HSC exams was "in no small part to the support they have received from two key areas – their teachers, support staff and leaders and family”.

“Since the pandemic began, public schools across the state, and not just our high schools, have shown remarkable commitment to ensure students not only continued to learn during long periods of lockdown but also remained motivated to do so," Mr Dizdar said.

“This is where family and friends also provided invaluable support, by not only encouraging students to remain focussed on their studies but reminding them to have a balanced approach to life by engaging in other pursuits of interest, physical activities, proper rest and diet.”

Oliver's classmate at Sydney Secondary College, Louis Wilson, said he had not been too bothered by having to wear a mask and had invested in a high-quality version with filter ahead of the exams.

“Most of the time I was too focused on my exam and didn’t really think about the mask,” he said.

Fellow Year 12 student Joe Reynolds said he had already forgotten all the questions and was heading home to study for two exams tomorrow.

“[The exams] are a long road and I’ve only just pulled out on the highway,” he said.

Isabel Morris gave the first exam a good pass: “I felt pretty comfortable with the short answer because it’s about human experiences and it’s a question we could all relate to.”

When asked if COVID came up in the exam, Isabel laughed and said it had not.

“I’m very glad I don’t want to talk about it anymore than we have to,” she said.

It's a fact

76,399 students are studying one or more HSC courses in 2021.

68,710 students are on track to complete their HSC program – making the HSC the most popular school credential in Australia in 2021.

There will be 110 written exams totalling around 350 hours.

Around 200 students will sit HSC exams overseas.

Each exam is reviewed at least six times before more than 700,000 exam papers are printed.

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