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High school (Years 11-12)

The Higher School Certificate (HSC) is the highest educational award in NSW schools. Your child will receive their HSC once they have successfully completed Year 11 and Year 12 (Stage 6).  

If your child does not complete the HSC, they may still be able to receive a Record of School Achievement (RoSA).

Find out more:

What is the HSC?

The HSC is an internationally recognised credential that provides a foundation for your child entering tertiary study, vocational training or employment.

To receive the HSC, students must:

  • Complete a minimum of 12 units of preliminary courses (usually in Year 11) followed by 10 units of HSC courses (usually in Year 12). 
  • Meet HSC course requirements through school based assessments.  
  • Sit for the statewide HSC examinations. 

What is the RoSA?

The RoSA records completed Stage 5 (Year 9 and 10) and Preliminary Stage 6 (Year 11) courses and grades, and participation in any uncompleted Preliminary Stage 6 courses.

Teachers award RoSA grades, which Education Standards monitor to ensure students receive fair and consistent recognition for their work. 

At any stage during Years 11-12 your child can obtain an up-to-date snapshot of their academic progress through a transcript called a Student eRecord. This can be accessed via Schools Online or Students Online and then printed or emailed to them.

HSC syllabus

HSC syllabuses are available to all schools in NSW. However, it is up to each school to determine its own HSC subject timetable.

You can assist your child with planning Year 11 and Year 12 studies by encouraging them to choose subjects they like choose subjects they like, subjects they’re good at and subjects that fit in with what they want to do when they leave school. 

They should also talk to their teachers and their school’s careers adviser to make realistic, informed subject choices.  

Resolve any problems your child has about subject choice with your school.


HSC examinations are generally held from mid October to early November each year.  A timetable with key dates and the examination timetable is released each year.

If your child is late to an exam they should advise their principal immediately and get to the exam centre as soon as possible.  Likewise, if they miss an exam because they have misread the timetable, your child must contact their principal immediately.

Special provisions and illness

There are two types of assistance (special provisions and illness or misadventure) available to students sitting HSC and RoSA examinations. These are .

Special provisions

Special provisions include emergency disability provisions for conditions that exist prior to the examinations.

Practical support is available to students to access HSC examinations and the RoSA tests. Provisions assist students to read examination questions and write their answers. Provisions include rest breaks and extra time. The use of any provision is not written on the student’s results.

A student may need provisions for:

  • A permanent condition, such as diabetes or reading difficulty.
  • A temporary condition, such as a broken arm.
  • An intermittent condition, such as back pain when sitting for long periods.

It’s important to reassure your child that it’s not embarrassing to apply for or use provisions. More than 5000 HSC students apply for provisions every year. Provisions help students show markers what they know and can do.

To apply for provisions, your child’s school will submit an online application to us requesting the provision needed. Evidence such as medical reports, reading results, spelling results, writing samples and teacher comments will accompany the application.  You can help the school by providing these documents as soon as you can.

Your school will need to apply for provisions by the end of term one.  Late applications are accepted for an emergency, such as a broken arm, until the time of the examinations.

Once we have decided which provisions are approved or declined, a decision letter is sent to the school. The school will provide the student with a copy of the letter.

If you, or the school, are not satisfied with the decision, it is possible for the school to lodge an appeal. Appeals must state why our decision is unsuitable and must include new evidence to support the appeal.

If you think your child may require support in completing the HSC examinations, please discuss the matter with the year adviser, school counsellor or teacher.

Illness or misadventure special consideration

Illness of misadventure includes conditions that occur immediately prior to or on the day of the examinations.

If your child becomes ill or suffers an accident that could affect their exam performance, they must notify the presiding officer when entering the exam or as soon as possible. They must also obtain an illness/misadventure application form from the exam centre, and submit it through their school principal.

Where possible students must still attend the exams, even if they believe their performance in the exam will be affected. Children should never risk harm to attend an exam or attend an exam against medical advice.

If your child cannot attend an exam because of illness or misadventure, notify your school principal immediately.  You must obtain documentary evidence, generally on the day of the exam, to support your child’s illness/misadventure application. If they did not sit the exam this evidence must indicate why they were unable to attend.

Once you and your child have obtained your evidence, completed the form and handed it in to the school, the Principal will submit your child’s application to us for processing. A panel will review the application and the supporting documentation before deciding to uphold or decline each component in your application.

Members of the panel will review the statements, the medical or misadventure evidence, plus the presiding officer and principal’s statements before making a decision. Each examination or component is treated independently, which is why it is important to have comprehensive evidence for each affected component.

In the case of most courses developed by us, if your application is upheld, you will be awarded the higher of your examination mark and a mark derived from your assessment mark or unaffected components of your examination.

In the case of the optional VET HSC examinations, if your application is upheld you will receive your examination mark or a mark derived from an estimate submitted by your school, whichever is higher.

If your application is declined, you will be awarded the mark you achieved in the examination. If you were absent from an examination and your illness/misadventure application is declined, you will not receive any result in that course. This could mean that you become ineligible for the HSC.

The 2016 HSC Rules and Procedures guide contains all information relating to special provisions.


Your student’s academic progress, from the completion of Year 10 onwards, can be viewed at any time through their Student eRecord.  This can be obtained by a student through their Students Online account.

On a student’s RoSA, their achievement in Years 10 and 11 is captured by a grade (A to E) for each course studied as outlined in the Course Performance Descriptors

For the HSC, students do not receive a simple ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, nor do they get a single rank or mark for all courses. The HSC results are a detailed package showing the level of knowledge and skills a student you achieved in each course.

Your child’s HSC Record of Achievement will list their:

  • HSC assessment mark
  • HSC examination mark
  • HSC mark (which is a 50:50 combination of your examination and assessment mark)
  • Performance Band for each course you studied. 

All Year 11 and 12 courses and results will be on a student’s HSC Certificate.

Your child will get their HSC results online and by SMS in December and their official credentials will be mailed to them in January.

The Universities Admissions Centre releases the Australian Tertiary Assessment Rank (ATAR) the day after the HSC results are out. This is different to the HSC result and is used for gaining entry to university.

A HSC results service including the HSC Results Inquiry Centre telephone hotline on 1300 13 83 23 is available following the release of the HSC results each year.

Replacement statements

Replacement statements for lost or mislaid certificates issued by us, past boards or the NSW Department of Education can be obtained from BOSTES.

Replacement statements can be provided for Intermediate Certificate, Leaving Certificate, School Certificate, RoSA, Year 11 Preliminary Certificate, Higher School Certificate, TER/TES and Year 10,11 or 12 Statement of Attainments/Result Notice.

A fee is charged for replacement certificates. An application for replacement examination results and certificates should be completed if you wish to obtain a replacement statement for your child.


After the HSC every year we compile and present the following awards lists. 

  • First Place in Course List contains the names and school of each student who achieves the top mark in any course, provided they are also placed in the top band (Band 6 is awarded for marks between 90 and 100 in 2 unit courses and Band E4 is awarded as the top Band in 1 unit subjects).
  • Top Achievers in Course contains the names of students in the top places in each course, provided they have also achieved Band 6 or Band E4, as appropriate.
  • Distinguished Achievers List contains the name and school of any student who achieved Band 6 or Band E4 as appropriate.
  • All-Round Achievers List contains the names and schools of students who have been placed on the Distinguished Achievers List for courses totalling 10 or more units.

Full lists are also available in our  Statistics Archive.

At the individual schools discretion, a school may also recognise their top HSC results students with awards. 


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