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HSC exam development

Are you interested in shaping and developing the NSW Higher School Certificate exams? Each year we accept applications from teachers and academics with appropriate experience and qualifications.

Setting or assessing HSC exams is a rewarding and challenging experience. It is an opportunity to:

  • develop further understanding of assessment techniques
  • enhance skills in setting exams
  • contribute towards your professional development.

Hear from teachers who have set or assessed exams (3 minute video):

Applications to develop the 2018 HSC exams are now open. The various closing dates are listed below.

Information about the recruitment process for 2018

HSC exams are developed by committees chaired by a Chief Examiner. Exam development commences in Term 4 of 2017 and will continue until July 2018. A practising teacher assesses each exam as part of the development process. Assessing an exam usually takes one day, and will take place in Term 1/early Term 2, 2018. A list of committees and courses is provided at the bottom of this page.

Chief examiners, committee members and assessors cannot teach the course(s) for which they are applying, or be closely related to someone sitting or teaching the subject in 2018 (see also the note about Extension courses below under Conditions of appointment). They must maintain complete confidentiality in relation to all HSC exams and committee discussions, and must sign a Statutory Declaration to this effect.

Chief Examiner (Applications are now open)

The Chief Examiner chairs the exam committee and has further responsibilities in the marking and standards-setting processes. Note that, in some cases, the Chief Examiner may have responsibility for a number of courses.

As Chair of the exam committee, the Chief Examiner ensures that the exam paper conforms to NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) principles and is of high quality, that the marking guidelines are appropriate, and that the final version of the exam paper is accurate.

As part of the marking operation, the Chief Examiner provides guidance to the Supervisor of Marking and Senior Markers in the development and validation of the marking kit and oversees the testing and refining of marking guidelines during test marking. After reviewing the marking kit and the results of test marking, the Chief Examiner signs a declaration to the effect that each question or task will achieve valid and reliable results. The Chief Examiner is required to complete a written report to the Consultative Committee, and in some cases attend a meeting with the Consultative Committee (usually held in late November or early December).

Also, Chief Examiners have the opportunity to see how exam questions perform by being appointed as markers.

All Chief Examiners need to be available throughout the exam setting and marking periods. This may involve attending up to three meetings during the summer school holiday period. Prospective applicants who are anticipating taking an extended period of leave during this time should not apply.

For the 2018 exams, there are a number of vacancies for Chief Examiner. The committees that have a vacancy for Chief Examiner in 2018 are indicated with an asterisk (*) on the list of committees provided at the bottom of this page.

Exam committee members (Applications are now open)

The exam committee develops the exam paper(s) and marking guidelines for the course(s) for which it is responsible. Where possible, each exam committee has a balance of secondary teachers and tertiary educators. Committees have representation from government and non-government schools and gender balance, where feasible. The number of committee meetings will depend on the nature of the paper(s) but will involve a minimum of eight days. Meetings are held at the NESA office, and last a full day from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm. Training will be provided and accreditation is given for this. Committee members need to be available from November 2017 to the end of June 2018.

Also, exam committee members have the opportunity to see how exam questions perform by being appointed as markers.

Assessors (Applications are now open)

As part of the exam development process, draft exams are assessed by teachers who have recent experience teaching the course. The role of an assessor is to provide an independent assessment of the exam paper by evaluating and commenting on it as a subject expert and as an experienced teacher. The assessor works the draft exam paper and provides responses and advice to the exam committee about the appropriateness of exam questions. The 2018 HSC exams are scheduled to be assessed between March and May 2018. If you anticipate taking extended periods of leave that would make you unavailable during this time, you should not apply.

Criteria for selection of Chief Examiners and committee members

All applicants will be expected to demonstrate:

  • appropriate qualifications and experience as a teacher of HSC students or first year tertiary students in the subject. In general, a minimum of three years recent experience teaching is considered necessary. In the case of secondary teachers, preference may be given to applicants who have taught the HSC course in the last three years. For all committee members, the maximum term is five consecutive years. The maximum term for Chief Examiners is six consecutive years
  • superior knowledge of the relevant HSC syllabus
  • the capacity to apply the NESA principles for the development of examinations and marking guidelines
  • additional professional experience (teaching, trade etc)
  • high-level oral and written communication skills
  • the capacity to work in a team to deliver educational materials to specified deadlines.

In addition, applicants for the Chief Examiner will be expected to demonstrate:

  • the capacity to provide leadership to the exam committee in the preparation of the exam and marking guidelines
  • the ability to manage the work of the committee and meet deadlines
  • the capacity to engage effectively with the Supervisor of Marking and senior markers in the development and validation of the marking kit, and to oversee the testing and refining of marking guidelines during test and practice marking.

Criteria for selection of assessors

Applicants must be Year 12 teachers with the necessary experience to assess the exam papers. In general, a minimum of three years recent experience teaching Year 12 is considered sufficient. Preference may be given to applicants who have taught the HSC course in the last three years, and who can demonstrate an understanding of the principles and practices that apply to the development of exams.

Conditions of appointment as Chief Examiner, committee member or assessor

The following conditions must be agreed to, prior to appointment as chief examiner, committee member, or assessor:

  • You must sign a confidentiality agreement in relation to your work on secure exam material
  • You must be available for meetings at the NESA office during the setting and reviewing periods, which may involve up to three days of the committee’s choice, during the summer school holidays
  • You must not teach or tutor the relevant HSC course(s) to students in 2018
  • You must not mark or moderate school assessments in the relevant course in 2018
  • You must not be an author of study guides that are in general use in schools or TAFE in the relevant subject area
  • You must disclose whether you are an author of textbooks/videos that are in general use in schools or TAFE in the relevant subject area
  • You must not have a close relative (eg spouse, sibling or child) either teaching the relevant course(s) or enrolled as an HSC student in the relevant course(s)
  • You must not set or review papers in the relevant HSC course(s) for school systems (eg Catholic/TAFE/Regional Trials) or commercial organisations such as test writing organisations or online organisations, while a member of an HSC exam committee
  • You must not lecture at meetings or study courses for students and teachers, or speak at any meetings on the content or interpretation of the syllabus or exam specifications for the relevant course(s)
  • Chief examiners, committee members and assessors please note that you can be considered to write/assess an Extension exam where you are teaching the related 2-unit Continuers course, unless you have 2-unit Continuers students sitting the Extension exam you wish to write/assess.


The Chief examiner and exam committee members receive a payment for setting exams. The amounts are currently $3148 for chief examiners and $1182 for committee members, and are paid per course. Metropolitan committee members are paid a travel allowance. Country members are reimbursed for travel and other expenses.

Chief examiners also receive a payment for their attendance at their marking centre. This is currently $787.

Assessors receive a fee of approximately $236 per course and plus a travel allowance.

NESA reimburses schools to cover the cost of employing casual staff to relieve teachers when their involvement in exam development work coincides with their teaching duties.

Instructions for completing the application form

Download the 2018 HSC exam development application form (Word format)

Part A

Please ensure that you have completed all the relevant sections in Part A in full, and that your application has been endorsed.

If you are teaching in a school or tertiary institution, your principal or supervisor will need to endorse your application and agree to release you should your application be successful. If you are retired or will not be working in a school or tertiary institution during the exam development period, please ensure that your application is endorsed by an appropriate individual who can verify the information provided. Applications that do not have the required endorsement(s) will not be considered. If you are applying for more than one position, please submit a separate application form for each position.

Part B

Applicants for Chief Examiner must complete Part B. If you are applying for membership of more than one committee, please submit a separate application form for each committee. Please ensure you provide information relevant to each of the selection criteria.

If your application for Chief Examiner is unsuccessful, we will consider you for appointment to the committees you nominated on page 1 of your application.

The application form can be completed electronically. In this case, after you have completed the application, print a hard copy, get the required signatures (yours and your principal or supervisor) and send it to the address below.

Opening and closing dates

  • Chief Examiner applications are now open. The closing date is Monday 31 July 2017.
  • Committee Member applications are now open. The closing date is Monday 21 August 2017.
  • Assessor applications are now open. The closing date is Friday 17 November 2017.

Submitting your application

Applications should be emailed to Examining and Testing Branch at If you are mailing your application, please post it to:

HSC Exam Development Applications
Examining and Testing Branch
NSW Education Standards Authority
GPO Box 5300
Sydney NSW 2001

Successful applicants for the position of Chief Examiner will be notified by the end of August 2017. Successful applicants for committee membership will be notified early in Term 4, 2017. Successful applicants for assessor will be notified in late Term 4, 2017 or in Term 1, 2018.

Any queries should be directed to:

Michelle Aspery Head, Test Development

(02) 9367 8372

Statement of Equity Principles

The NESA Statement of Equity Principles and related guiding statements inform project and writing teams of syllabuses, support documents, exams, assessment guidelines and other relevant educational materials produced by NESA.

2018 HSC Examination Committees List

HSC Examination committees and related courses by KLA

An asterisk indicates that a Chief Examiner vacancy exists for a particular committee in 2018. Where a committee has responsibility for more than one course, the courses are indicated in square brackets.

This list is updated periodically, so please check when this document was last updated.

This list was last modified on 31 May 2017.


  • English*– [English (Advanced), English (Standard)]
  • English (ESL)
  • English Extension


  • Biology*
  • Chemistry
  • Earth and Environmental Science*
  • Physics
  • Senior Science


  • Aboriginal Studies
  • Ancient History*
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History Extension*
  • Legal Studies*
  • Modern History*
  • Society and Culture*
  • Studies of Religion* – [Studies of Religion I, Studies of Religion II]

Creative Arts

  • Dance
  • Drama*
  • Music* – [Music 1, Music 2]
  • Visual Arts


  • Mathematics – [Mathematics, Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2]
  • Mathematics General 2*


  • Automotive*
  • Business Services*
  • Construction
  • Electrotechnology*
  • Entertainment Industry
  • Financial Services
  • Hospitality
  • Human Services*
  • Information and Digital Technology*
  • Metal and Engineering*
  • Primary Industries*
  • Retail Services
  • Tourism, Travel and Events


  • Agriculture*
  • Design and Technology
  • Engineering Studies
  • Food Technology*
  • Industrial Technology
  • Information Processes and Technology*
  • Software Design and Development*
  • Textiles and Design*


  • Community and Family Studies
  • PDHPE*

HSC Languages Exam Committees and related courses by KLA

An asterisk (*) indicates that a Chief Examiner vacancy exists for a particular committee. Where a committee has responsibility for more than one course, the courses are indicated in square brackets.

This list is updated periodically, so please check when this document was last updated.

This list was last modified on 31 May 2017.


  • Arabic Beginners*
  • Arabic Continuers
  • Arabic Extension
  • Armenian
  • Chinese and Literature
  • Chinese Beginners*
  • Chinese Continuers
  • Chinese Extension*
  • Chinese in Context*
  • Croatian
  • Filipino
  • French Beginners
  • French Continuers
  • French Extension
  • German Beginners*
  • German Continuers
  • German Extension
  • Indonesian and Literature*
  • Indonesian Beginners
  • Indonesian Continuers*
  • Indonesian Extension*
  • Indonesian in Context*
  • Italian Beginners
  • Italian Continuers*
  • Italian Extension*
  • Japanese and Literature
  • Japanese Beginners*
  • Japanese Continuers
  • Japanese Extension
  • Japanese in Context*
  • Korean and Literature
  • Korean Beginners
  • Korean Continuers*
  • Korean in Context
  • Modern Greek Beginners*
  • Modern Greek Continuers
  • Modern Greek Extension
  • Modern Hebrew Continuers
  • Serbian*
  • Spanish Beginners*
  • Spanish Continuers
  • Spanish Extension*
  • Swedish*
  • Ukrainian
  • Vietnamese Continuers

Classical Languages

  • Classical Greek – [Classical Greek Continuers, Classical Greek Extension]
  • Classical Hebrew* – [Classical Hebrew Continuers, Classical Hebrew Extension]
  • Latin – [Latin Continuers, Latin Extension]
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