HUNTER students have praised their first Higher School Certificate exam as "pretty easy" and a good way to start the month of tests.
St Joseph's College Lochinvar students Sabine Hudson, Abbey Matt and Isabella Crebert were "relieved" on Thursday after sitting English Paper 1, which started with short answer questions based on unseen texts: prose fiction, a poem, a feature article and a novel extract - but not a picture, as they had expected.
They also had to write an essay on their prescribed text, the film Billy Elliot.
"It was pretty easy, although the questions were definitely harder than the essay," Isabella said.
"Overall it was good - it could have been worse," Abbey said.
Sabine said there seemed to be more short answer questions than in their trial exam and they had to work quickly.
Abbey said some questions specified which techniques to discuss rather than letting them choose.
The essay question asked them to what extent the exploration of human experiences in Billy Elliot invited them to reconsider their understanding of commitment.
Sabine said the breadth of the question made it "hard to narrow down" her thoughts into a response.
They all said they found it much easier to remember film techniques and scenes than quotes.
"We used additional related texts in class but not in the HSC - there was some confusion about that across the state," Abbey said.
The trio said they were aware their cohort was making history. It is the first to sit the exam based on the new common module - previously known as the area of study - texts and human experiences.
They said while there were no past papers, their teacher had directed them to a website with 20 practice essay questions.
The St Joseph's cohort is also the school's first to sit the HSC in almost three decades.
The school was established in 1883 and its last year 12 cohort sat their HSC in 1992, soon after the school amalgamated with St Peter's and St Mary's in Maitland to form All Saints' College.
St Joseph's changed at the time to a year seven to 10 school, but returned in 2018 to a stand-alone year seven to 12 entity.
"When I put my hand up for extra paper I thought 'I'm the first student to do this [in 27 years]," Isabella said.
"There has been no pressure whatsoever - it's been more celebratory," Abbey said.
The girls said they would relax for a few hours after each paper before returning to study.
"This is my last opportunity to show what I can do and get the results I've been working towards for 13 years," Isabella said.
Abbey said she was "giving this my all". "Trying your best is the main thing and not letting it define you," she said.
Sabine said "what you put in is what you get". "If you've worked consistently you're bound to know something!"
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