Choosing HSC subjects and exam support

Aside from the school’s support in the lead up to the HSC, your child may also be eligible for disability provisions for the exams themselves. Your child’s school will be able to tell you more about the application process, and you can also refer to the NESA website and the HSC Disability Provisions Guide for teachers and parents.

Support leading up to the HSC

The school should help your child choose the best subjects to meet their overall goals for their life after school. Your child’s strengths, interests and ambitions should be at the centre of these goals.

This decision-making process around what your child will study is called collaborative curriculum planning.

This collaborative curriculum planning decides:

  • the most appropriate content and outcomes for your child in each learning area
  • any adjustments or support they might need to access particular learning opportunities or assessments
  • your child’s learning goals
  • what pattern of study is most appropriate for your child.

You can find out more about the way this collaborative curriculum planning happens at the NESA website.

This planning should be part of the ongoing planning process the school has in place to help make sure your child has the skills they need to do the studies that they want. The school should also be helping your child develop useful strategies to complete their assessments and sit their exams.

HSC Life Skills courses

All students are entitled to participate in and progress through the curriculum.

Years 7–10 courses based on Life Skills outcomes and content and Years 11–12 Life Skills courses provide options for students with disability who cannot access the regular course outcomes, particularly students with an intellectual disability.

All decisions about curriculum options for students with disability should be made through the collaborative curriculum planning process.

HSC pathways

Your child can complete their HSC over two years during Years 11 or 12, but there are also other pathways available to all students depending on their needs.

These include:

  • spreading HSC studies over five consecutive years
  • including studies that your child completes at other educational institutions, such as TAFE
  • studying some courses more quickly, in a shorter time period
  • studying during an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • you can also attain your HSC by studying Life Skills courses.

These are options that you and your child can discuss with the school. You can find out more about alternate pathways to the HSC at the NESA website.

Disability provisions for HSC exams

More than 10,000 HSC students apply for disability provisions each year. Provisions help students to show HSC markers what they know and can do.

They are practical arrangements designed to assist a student when their exam performance may be affected by the impact of a disability. Provisions may support:

  • learning
  • psychological or mental health
  • medical
  • physical
  • vision or hearing needs during the HSC examination

These provisions only apply to students whose disability or additional needs might affect their reading and responding to questions in an exam situation. Exam provisions for your child may not be the same as classroom adjustments provided by your child's school, because NESA HSC provisions are specifically for examination conditions during the HSC.

If you believe your child may be eligible or may benefit from HSC disability provisions, please speak with your child's Learning and Support team or their year advisor. Your child's needs can be identified by your child, a health professional working with your child, you, or the school, and the school will discuss with you both how they can apply and your child's eligibility.

If your child is eligible, the school will apply for HSC disability provisions to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).

Applications will need to be supported with evidence. Evidence may include medical reports, reading test results or writing samples and teacher comments. It is important to note that not all applications for provisions require a diagnosis. If you are not in a position to get a diagnosis, it is important to speak with your school, so they can discuss your circumstances with NESA and consider what else may be possible.

Your school can apply for provisions from Term 4 in the year before your child's HSC exams, until the end of Term 1 of the year of their HSC exams. In some cases, if the impact of your child’s disability is not going to change, the school can apply for HSC disability provisions when your child is in Year 10.

NESA will assess all the applications and will seek advice from a panel of specialists as they need it. Schools can appeal NESA's decision within 14 days of receiving it.

Note that emergency provisions, such as late injury (car or sporting accidents, broken arm, recent surgeries) and illness can be applied for up to and during the HSC exam period.


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  • High school

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