What happens to your HSC papers after the exam

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 6: Tony Turner HSC marker at Marking Centre in Sydney Showgrounds Homebush on NOVEMBER 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 6: Tony Turner HSC marker at Marking Centre in Sydney Showgrounds Homebush on NOVEMBER 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 6: HSC markers at Marking Centre in Sydney Showgrounds Homebush on NOVEMBER 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 6: HSC markers at Marking Centre in Sydney Showgrounds Homebush on NOVEMBER 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 6: HSC markers at Marking Centre in Sydney Showgrounds Homebush on NOVEMBER 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 6: HSC markers at Marking Centre in Sydney Showgrounds Homebush on NOVEMBER 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)

The biggest exam of their schooling lives is over for more than 70,000 students across NSW, who now have more than a month to wait before results are released.

In total, about 78,000 students have sat at least one of 117 written HSC exams since October 16 with the last exam, drama, held on Tuesday afternoon.

Now, about 5500 teachers across NSW are continuing with the mammoth task of marking 420,000 papers.

Once exam papers are collected from students' desks, they are boxed and sent to a NSW Education Standards Authority site to be scanned and digitally distributed to nine marking centres across the state.

As soon as they have the completed papers, supervisors and senior markers meet to revise marking guidelines.

"We look at the guidelines and how the questions were intended, and whether that's how students have interpreted them," this year's supervisor of marking for biology, Damian Sylvester, said.

"We can be a little bit fluid, sometimes the wording of questions can be read differently."

Markers check if the revised guidelines can be applied fairly and consistently by trialling them on 100 papers. These papers are then mixed back in with the unmarked papers and the guidelines are finalised.

"It's tremendous to feel like you're making a difference in terms of marking and making sure each student is getting the mark that they've worked very, very hard for," Mr Sylvester said.

"You also have the opportunity to have discussions with very high calibre teachers and opportunities for growth ... and being able to take that back [to your school]."

For 75 per cent of HSC subjects, marking is now done online and supervisors can monitor and compare the work of markers in real-time.

"If a marker is being too hard or too easy, our supervisors can see the pattern," said Tom Alegounarias, chair of the NSW Education Standards Authority, which runs the HSC.

"We sell this digitised marking process around the world, to the largest marking organisation in Britain and to countries in Asia.

"[It's] what makes the HSC one of the world's top exams."

All questions with an extended response are double-marked and if there's a discrepancy between the marks, the question is marked again.

Once the initial marking process is over, raw exam marks are aligned with previous years' marks so HSC results can be comparable over multiple years.

Supervisor of marking for agriculture, Tony Turner, who has been an HSC marker for 24 years, said being involved in the marking process has made it easier to watch his daughter sit the exams this year.

"It's to go full circle, you come out with so much confidence as to the quality assurance process," Mr Turner said.

The shortest marking time for an exam is about eight days, while the longest is two-and-a-half weeks for English, which is the only mandatory subject and has the biggest candidature.

Marking is already complete for a number of language courses and all papers are expected to be marked by November 26.

Students will get their HSC results via text message on December 14 and ATARs will be available on the Universities Admissions Centre's website on December 15.

This story What happens to your HSC papers after the exam first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.