The Higher School Certificate is a locally, nationally and internationally recognised qualification for students who successfully complete secondary education in NSW.

Changes to the HSC were introduced in 2000 in response to community demands for a fairer system of assessing and reporting student achievement. The new HSC has retained the best features of the old HSC but has introduced a powerful new curriculum and clearly defined standards of achievement.

Students will receive an HSC Course Report for each course they complete which will describe their level of achievement as well as the standards reached by other students in the course.

The syllabuses makes it clear to everyone just what students are expected to learn and be able to do in each course by the end of Year 12. Specimen examination papers and marking guidelines, provided by the Board of Studies, assist students to set goals and understand the level of achievement expected.

Each HSC Course Report will show a student's mark in relation to six performance bands, which clearly describe what students know and can do at each level of achievement.

A 'minimum standard expected' has been set for each course. Students will be awarded a mark of 50 or more out of 100 if they reach or exceed the minimum standard.

Will HSC examination marks be scaled?

Students receive a mark based on their own performance. They are not scaled against other students in the course. There is no pre-determined number of students in each mark range and no limit placed on the number of students who can reach top marks.

Is school-based assessment important?

Yes. Assessment marks earned by students at school during the HSC year will form 50% of their final HSC mark for each course.

What are the benefits for employers?

One of the main aims of the new HSC is to make students better qualified to win jobs or go on to higher education when they leave school.

In addition employers benefits from:

  • clear comprehensive reporting
  • course reports that describe what students know and can do
  • explicit statewide standards
  • credentials assist prospective employees make comparisons.


There are many new Vocational Education and Training courses available as part of the HSC which earn students nationally recognised industry qualifications. Employers can now choose HSC graduates with industry recognised training and qualifications.