It is the beginning of the end for year 12 students, with the first written final exams being held on Tuesday.
The exams, for 1173 students taking a language subject, are co-ordinated nationally ahead of the main two-week block of exams.
Among them will be Jordan Heng, 17, from Adelaide High School who has been learning Japanese.
“Studying a language has helped me to realise the wide variety of different cultures that exist in the world,” he said.
“Having been quite disconnected from my Chinese culture growing up, studying Japanese has helped me to realise that speaking a language isn’t only about speaking the language, but also about understanding the traditions that were passed down to build up the language over time.”
Jordan has been a senior leader at Adelaide High School, including being part of a group of local students who support international students at the school and promote intercultural awareness.
More than 14,500 South Australians are enrolled to complete their SA Certificate of Education, with the main block of exams starting on Monday, November 1.
SACE Board chief executive Martin Westwell said it had been “quite a tricky year” for students because of the continuing uncertainty of Covid-19 and restrictions.
“But schools are open and whether students are vaccinated or not, we’re carrying on,” he said.
Last week, the government announced students would not need to wear masks in exams.
This year, 13 exams will be conducted electronically rather than on paper – up from nine last year and three in 2019.
“We want to make assessments better, the students live in an electronic world and we can do more with an electronic exam,” Professor Westwell said.
Language exams are held on three levels – “background” for those who speak that language at home, “continuers” who have taken the subject at school for many years and “beginners”.
On Tuesday, for the first time there will be exams in Modern Greek (beginners) and Indonesian (background), while Filipino (continuers) and Swedish (continuers) make a return after last being taught in 2019 and 2018 respectively.
The most popular languages are Japanese (continuers) with 151 students registered, French (continuers) 103 students, Italian (continuers) 99 students and Chinese (background) 81 students.
Several subjects will have only one student, including Hungarian (continuers), Sinhala (continuers), Pitjantjatjara (additional), Filipino (continuers) and German (beginners).
Professor Westwell urged students to be calm as they go into the exams.
“Exams can be daunting but they should remember 70 per cent of their grade is already in the bag, that work has already been done” he said.
“The main thing is that they’ve done the learning – and exams are an opportunity to show us what they’ve learnt.”