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Oral and sign interpreters

Rules and procedures for the Higher School Certificate examinations

Print version of this leaflet (PDF)

If you have further questions, please contact the Student Support Services Branch on
(02) 9367 8117


This leaflet should be distributed to students granted the use of oral or sign support, their parents, the oral/sign interpreter, presiding officers, examination supervisors and Year 12 coordinators.

Who can act as an oral or sign interpreter?

The interpreter must be a skilled and familiar communication partner with the student, for example the support class teacher or itinerant support teacher. The interpreter must not act in the role of a supervisor.

What is an oral or sign interpreter able to do?


✓ Access the examination paper up to 15 minutes before the start of the examination to familiarise him/herself with the content. During this time the interpreter must remain strictly supervised and may not communicate with the student or any other person.

✓ Read or sign verbatim the Directions to Candidates.

✓ Explain words or phrases in the instructions, questions and stimulus material.

✓ Simplify the structure of a sentence grammatically.

✓ Paraphrase questions. The student may write this rephrasing on the examination paper and/or check their understanding of the question with the interpreter.


✗ Explain vocabulary specific to the subject, eg ‘bisect’ should not be explained in a Mathematics examination.

✗ Advise the student on the selection of questions.

✗ Read or sign stimulus material and/or passages in their entirety.

✗ Explain each of the alternative answers in multiple-choice questions. (If the student is perplexed by the answer choice, explanation of individual vocabulary may be given, provided that this does not indicate the correct response.)

✗ Assist the student with planning or writing responses.

What extra time is permitted with the use of an oral or sign interpreter?

Extra time is allowed for the time in which a student engages with the interpreter. The maximum time allowable is calculated at the rate of five minutes per half-hour of examination time. The supervisor will record the amount of time that the student engages with the interpreter and extend the student’s examination time accordingly.

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