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Advice for students attempting HSC languages examinations

This guide has information, advice and tips about sitting your HSC Language oral and written examinations.Use the syllabus and related assessment and reporting materials when preparing for your exam.

The oral examinations are held on Saturdays in August and September.

Oral examinations

Make sure you:
  • know how to get to your examination centre (note there is only limited parking onsite at most examination centres)
  • arrive at least 30 minutes before your session time (you can only attend your allocated session time)
  • do not wear your school uniform
On the day you may consult study materials in the waiting area but you cannot take them into the exam room. It is also a good idea to bring food and drink with you as some exams may not finish until mid-afternoon.

Read more about illness/misadventure for information about what to do if you are ill or absent on the day of your oral exam.

The oral examination in Beginners and Continuers languages

  • Consists of a conversation between you and the examiner.
  • The Beginners oral examination is five minutes in length.
  • The Continuers oral examination is 10 minutes in length.
  • The CCAFL Continuers and Modern Hebrew and Vietnamese Continuers oral examinations are made up of two parts – Conversation and Discussion:
    • the Conversation is approximately seven minutes in length
    • the Discussion is approximately eight minutes in length.


  • questions will be about the candidate’s personal world as it relates to the prescribed topics in the syllabus
  • answer each question ONLY with information related specifically to the question asked
  • you may be asked questions that relate to past, present and future experience
  • if you don’t understand a question, ask for the question to be repeated, clarified or rephrased in the language being examined
  • you should NOT ask the examiner to translate words or questions
  • you should NOT identify yourself, your teachers or your school to the examiner
  • if you make a pronunciation or grammatical mistake, it is perfectly acceptable to correct yourself
  • you are required to demonstrate your ability to respond to whatever is asked. Giving a prepared response is unlikely to effectively answer the question that has been asked.

The Discussion in CCAFL and Modern Hebrew and Vietnamese Continuers oral examinations

  • In the Discussion, the examiner will ask you a series of questions relating to your in-depth study.
  • The aim of the Discussion is to determine how well you have researched your topic but also to see how well you are able to discuss what you have learned.
  • The examiner will want to know what resources you have used. One of your resources must be a literary text such as a novel, play, poem or a film. You may not bring objects such as photographs, posters and pictures to the examination.

The oral examination for In Context languages

  • Consists of a 10-minute interview between the candidate and the examiner.
  • In this interview, you are expected to explore with the examiner the subject of your Personal Investigation, which includes reflections on your findings as well as references to the texts and resources used.
  • You will be assessed on your ability to:
    • reflect on ideas and experiences
    • refer to texts studied
    • present a point of view
    • communicate using appropriate intonation, pronunciation, grammar, language structures and vocabulary.

  • To assist the examiner in directing the interview, you are required to provide a brief summary of your Personal Investigation.

  • Download the HSC In Context Languages Interview Sheet from Schools Online, complete the form (you can ask your teacher to help you with this) and then upload it to Schools Online two weeks before the scheduled examination date.

The oral examination in Extension languages

  • Consists of a monologue.
  • You need to respond to one question from a choice of two questions.
  • You will have seven minutes’ preparation time. During this time, you can make notes on the paper provided.
  • You should speak for approximately three minutes.
  • After two and a half minutes, you will  hear a warning bell. There will be a final bell at three minutes.


  • read both questions carefully before deciding on the choice of question
  • write only key words/notes on the paper – use your notes as a guide – do not read directly from your notes
  • state the question number you are attempting at the beginning of your monologue
  • support your argument with a ra