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Assessment Certification Examination (ACE)
NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)

Demonstration of the HSC minimum standard

ACE 4060

Last Updated: 11 October 2021

This rule is affected by changes made to RoSA and HSC rules and requirements in 2021.

Find these amendments in our COVID Changes for 2021.

From 2020, students must demonstrate a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy to be eligible for the award of the Higher School Certificate (see ACE 8004).

Students must demonstrate the minimum standard in each domain of reading, writing and numeracy.

The HSC minimum standard is set at the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) Level 3.ACSF Level 3 describes the functional literacy and numeracy skills required for life after school, for work and further education.

Students in Years 10 to 12 may demonstrate the HSC minimum standard by achieving Level 3 or above in the NESA minimum standard online reading, writing and numeracy tests.

Year 9 students who achieved Band 8 or above in a NAPLAN reading, writing and/or numeracy test in 2017 (only), are recognised as having demonstrated the HSC minimum standard in that domain, and do not need to sit a corresponding NESA minimum standard online test. The 2017 NAPLAN tests must have been undertaken under school (not home) supervision for the results to be used for this purpose.

For students undertaking a ‘pathways’ HSC, the NESA minimum standard online tests can be sat at any time during the five-year accumulation period (see ACE 8036) in order for students to gain eligibility for the HSC.

Students who leave school and have not met HSC eligibility requirements will (if eligible, see ACE 4001) receive a Record of School Achievement (RoSA), or a Transcript of Study. Students who subsequently (in the five-year accumulation period) become eligible for the HSC by demonstrating the HSC minimum standard will be issued with a Higher School Certificate testamur and have their results re-issued on a Record of Achievement.

School leavers in Years 10 to 12 may sit the NESA minimum standard online tests and use the test results to demonstrate their levels of reading, writing and numeracy to employers and/or further education and training providers.

Demonstration of the HSC minimum standard using alternative evidence

In the exceptional circumstance where a student who has the required literacy and/or numeracy skills is unable to demonstrate these skills in a NESA minimum standard online test, a principal may submit an application to NESA to demonstrate the HSC minimum standard using alternative evidence.

Applications to NESA must provide:

  • evidence that the student is unable to demonstrate the minimum standard by sitting the online tests.
  • evidence that the student has the required literacy and numeracy skills. School-observed or school-verified evidence must be clearly annotated to demonstrate alignment to ACSF Level 3 or above. Unannotated material will not be accepted.

Applications must be made for each domain of reading, writing and numeracy. Applications can only be submitted to NESA once the student is enrolled in Year 12, ie from Term 4 in Year 11. Applications should be forwarded to studentsupport@nesa.nsw.edu.au.