High School Certificate online examination secured by 35 NESA staff

High School Certificate online examination was a success on the 23rd of October 2019. The online pilot examination was for a new course, science extension, which teaches science students the evolution of scientific knowledge.

Five students from the Sydney Girls’ High School who sat for the High School Certificate online examination were delighted to be the first group to have written the exam online, expecting other subjects to be incorporated as well.

The Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, said the success of the online exam is a technological achievement both for the students and the NESA team.

In the morning of the exam, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) team was already on the ground to forestall the examinations from going wrong.

A team of 35 NESA staff ensured security during the online exam was very tight, and activated lockdown browsers such that students only had access to rudimentary spell check with no correction options. The students were also given headphones to listen to video clips used as stimuli in questions. 

Although NESA has no plans to continue to hold more online exams, they were happy the first online exam was a success. The acting chief executive of NESA, Paul Martin, had said during the budget estimates hearing in September that the trend in the organization would be towards establishing online examinations.

The acting chief executive further said that NESA would tread slowly in this online exam enterprise to ensure it gets right the first time and always, considering the high stakes involved.  

The pilot High School Certificate online examinations

It is unknown why NESA chose the new science extension course as the first subject to be undertaken online, but 650 upcoming student scientists across New South Wales made history taking the exams on the 23rd of October.

Iman Zubari, one of the students from Sydney Girls’ High, explained that the High School Certificate Online Examination is a lot easier compared to the traditional examination. 

The new science extension course focuses on teaching research methods and scientific philosophies. The new subject is significantly different from the existing science subjects as it helps students understand how to become a scientist.

In other words, the science extension course teaches the philosophical foundations and uncertainties about science, explaining to students the reason why scientists do what they do.

The head of the science teacher at Sydney Girls‘ Elizabeth O’Connor, said the new subject was different from chemistry and physics, as it teaches about the evolution of scientific knowledge.

During the High School Certificate online examinations, the students were asked to analyze scientific reports which they submitted earlier in the year.