Essential Secondary Science Assessment (ESSA)

//Essential Secondary Science Assessment (ESSA)

Essential Secondary Science Assessment (ESSA)

The Essential Secondary Science Assessment (ESSA) is a statewide assessment program based on the NSW Science Years 7-10 Syllabus. The syllabus mandates the teaching of science in contexts that assist students to see the relevance of science and to make meaning of scientific knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitudes. Students are tested on their science abilities in an online interactive multimedia assessment.

Who takes the test?

The ESSA test is mandatory for all year 8 students in NSW government schools. Non-government schools both inside and outside NSW and home schools are welcome to register for ESSAonline.

Whats in the test?

Students are asked to demonstrate their:

  • knowledge and understanding in science
  • skills in planning and conducting investigations, including a simulated experiment
  • skills in understanding and responding to a range of scientific information in a variety of media (including video, audio, animation graphics and text)
  • skills in critical thinking and problem solving.

ESSAonline contains:

  • three extended response tasks.
  • approximately 80 multiple choice and short response items.
What are the results used for?

The test results provide information about student achievements which are used to support teaching and learning programs. Analysis of these results assists school planning and can be used by schools to monitor development of scientific knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes through time.

ESSAonline marking

Extended response tasks are marked by trained, experienced science teachers. Multiple choice and short response items are computer marked.


Schools receive detailed diagnostic analysis of the achievements of individual students, various groups within the school and the school’s performance as a whole. This feedback is provided by an innovative web-based centralised software system called School Measurement, Assessment and Reporting Toolkit (SMART).

Reports are also generated and printed for each student. Reports will be distributed to schools early in the year following the test. School staff will advise parents as to how and when the parent reports will be distributed.

This information is from;
NSW Public Schools. 2014. Essential Secondary Science Assessment. [ONLINE] Available at:

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