KAYLAN Moloney is not sure how many students the NSW Education Standards Authority consulted about its decision to proceed with staging the Higher School Certificate exams - but says it wasn't enough.
"Everyone I've spoken to is against it and if you're on the HSC discussion groups on Facebook it's literally filled with people angry about it all... I would say there's probably five per cent of students who want the exams to go ahead," Kaylan said.
"I really want to do well and I've put so much effort into school and try so hard, but I just don't understand how after remote learning - where we can't be in contact with our teachers and able to access them easily - and then extending it, we [can] stay motivated and study for such a long period of time.
"No-one can study for that long. We've been doing year 12 already for a whole year and now they're just dragging it out longer. It's very taxing."
The Hunter School of the Performing Arts year 12 student, 17, based in NSW's Hunter Valley, has written to NESA expressing her concerns about the decision to hold exams from the delayed start date of November 9, including that the student cohort was not adequately consulted.
She told the Newcastle Herald the government had said not proceeding with the exams would negatively affect students' mental health, but she believed the opposite was true.
"They've literally cancelled every single good thing we can look forward to," she said.
"Out of year 12 the HSC is probably the experience students look forward to the least and that's the only thing going ahead. It takes a massive toll.
"Studying already can be so difficult, you already feel like you're isolated sometimes. And then you're actually socially isolated on top of that."
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Kaylan said she and her peers were losing motivation and finding it difficult to focus with another two months to go before the tests.
"I don't think it's possible for anyone to study for that long [since term four last year]... at university you never do that, you have semesters," she said.
"I think everyone will be burned out, they're not going to see as good results [as expected].
"In the HSC discussion groups so many people have already basically given up.
"I have friends who are considering dropping out now because they don't think they can keep going for that much longer."
She said she didn't believe that this year's cohort should sit exams just because their predecessors did.
"I don't think that makes any sense because COVID has never happened before, so they can't really make any decisions based on previous years," she said.
"We've been affected for both years now, we were affected in year 11 as well as year 12... plus every other year got to do a formal, but we probably won't get it."
She said NESA had already made unprecedented changes to some exams, including cancelling her major study (performance) for dance.
Kaylan said NESA could use marks from internal school assessments to determine HSC results, instead of exams.
"It would make everyone a lot happier," she said. "COVID's already tough enough and people are experiencing other things that are affecting them during COVID, then trying to do the HSC on top of that is a lot.
"The majority of us have already finished all of our content in class before we were even meant to do trials, so all of our assessments have been based off the entire course content."
Kaylan said she was looking forward to seeing teachers when year 12 return to classrooms on October 25 - unless the local lockdown is lifted before then and students return earlier - but some students wouldn't turn up because they're "burned out".
"We were supposed to graduate at the end of term but now we're expected to go to school for four weeks next term... but the year 11s move up to year 12 next term and we're still going to be at school next term, so I'm not sure how teachers are going to coordinate having two year 12 classes."
She said she was also concerned about students carrying further uncertainty over Christmas while they waited for results and ATARs in mid January, before university starts in February.
She hopes to study physiotherapy and hasn't been able to attend open days in person.
"What if you've got to move out of home? How are you expected to try and afford that, get accommodation, apply for Youth Allowance, whatever you've got to do to move away from home [in that short period of time]?"
Kaylan said her doctor would not vaccinate her with AstraZeneca and the earliest she could book for Pfizer was October 25.
She said the majority of NSW Hunter Valley students would not be fully vaccinated before the exams.