IT was an anxious morning but once their first-exam nerves settled students at St Francis Xavier’s College said the first English exam wasn’t as bad as expected.
‘‘The first one gets you the most nervous because you have to break into the HSC,’’ said Olivia Anderson, who studied English (Advanced).
‘‘You get this really bad anxiety even if you know you have studied and tried your best.’’
Most of the state’s 75,000 HSC students kicked off the exam period with the first English paper on Monday.
At St Francis Xavier’s College, 427 students sat the exam, which is the same for Advanced and Standard courses.
It was an anxious two hours for the school’s head English teacher Carole Houston. ‘‘The dean of studies and I literally ran to get a sense of how the students felt when they came out,’’ she said.
Most were relieved and said it was exactly what they had practised, Ms Houston said. It was a ‘‘big relief’’ to find there were no surprises in the exam, which lined up well with the marking criteria.
Jessica Noncic, an English (Standard) student said she was glad the first exam was over.
‘‘It was a lot better than we expected,’’ Jessica said. It was nerve-racking lining up to go into the exam but ‘‘it was fine when you got started’’.
English is the only compulsory HSC subject and most candidates study either the Advanced or Standard course. Both cohorts will sit their second English paper on Tuesday.
The number of students taking Advanced and Extension English courses has dropped to 10-year lows.
At St Francis Xavier’s College, 232 HSC students took the Standard course while 192 studied Advanced.
Ms Houston said the numbers had been similar for the past three to four years.
But more students were choosing to take a non-exam-based English option, Ms Houston said.
The senior college will run an extra English Studies class next year.
‘‘Now students know there a lot of different paths to get where you want in life – you don’t necessarily have to go to university.’’
Olivia, who is studying four units of English, said the Advanced course had been ‘‘worth the challenge’’.
Students learnt more and gained more skills that could be used in most other subjects, she said.
Jessica considered swapping to the Advanced but was happy with her decision to stick to Standard.
‘‘I’ve improved heaps,’’ she said.
‘‘I didn’t want to study texts like Frankenstein that I wasn’t used to reading.’’