Assessing Visual Arts Bodies of Work

About this resource

Welcome to the NSW Department of Education Assessing visual arts bodies of work resource. This resource is designed to assist Stage 6 visual arts teachers to make informed and valid judgements when marking HSC bodies of work. All Year 12 teachers should access the NESA Visual arts body of work marking guidelines before referring to materials on this site.

This resource will assist teachers to:

  • unpack and familiarise themselves with the language of the marking guidelines
  • understand the importance of undertaking critical dialogue with a colleague in the lead up to independently marking bodies of work
  • develop confidence when making judgements about bodies of works through guided practice using the available work samples
  • ensure that marks awarded to bodies of work reflect the standard demonstrated.

Currently this resource has three parts:

  1. An introduction and overview with expert Head Teacher of Visual Arts Ron Pratt
  2. Seven videos demonstrating critical dialogue that foster familiarisation with the language of the marking criteria and benchmarks
  3. An opportunity to practice mark seven works and learn from the teacher’s individual reflection when allocating a mark to the body of work.

For Stage 6 dance, drama and music teachers, see the Assessment in the HSC resource for dance, drama, and music. This resource is designed to provide Stage 6 teachers with opportunities to develop their understanding of the assessment requirements for the practical, submitted works and performance works in the HSC dance, drama and music courses.

Using this resource in the Stage 6 classroom

This resource was designed to assist stage 6 visual arts teachers to make informed and valid judgements when marking HSC bodies of work. However, it can be used to effectively engage Year 12 students and build their confidence in and knowledge of what success in the body of work looks like. Teachers might engage students in assessing a range of artworks in small groups or independently. The videos might also be used to support whole class discussions. This resource allows teachers to use student responses as the building blocks towards new knowledge.

Here is a sequence that provides suggestions for ways you might use this resource in your classroom with year 12 visual arts students.

  • Read through the body of work marking guidelines from NESA with your class. Familiarise students with the language. Play a game where you provide the students with the criteria and the marks in a jumble and ask students to figure out which description fits with which band.
  • Show your class the video ‘We are awakening’ and the critical discussion between two markers about this work. Ask students to make a list of language used by the markers to interpret this work. Build student understanding of visual arts vocabulary by asking them to define any unfamiliar terms.
  • Pause this video at 00:09:10 and ask students to use the marking guidelines to give this work a mark. They may want to discuss their response with a peer. Write three sentences justifying their mark and using some of the new language that they have heard in the video.
  • There are 7 other videos that students might practice mark to build their understanding of the marking guidelines and put them on the pathway to becoming assessment insiders. You can find them on the Practice marking page. These works reflect a range of expressive forms and mark ranges.
  • Look at one of the videos with the sound off. Ask students to make their own notes on the artwork referring to both the NESA marking guidelines and also their understanding of material and conceptual practice, the frames and conceptual framework. Pair students up and ask them to have their own critical dialogue about the work. They can use their notes as a guide. They should then together award this work a mark. Finally, share these marks with the class and see if students placed the work in the same mark range. Discuss the results. Note that this strategy might also help to build confidence when analysing unseen plates in examination conditions.


This introduction with highly experienced Head Teacher of Visual Arts Ron Pratt provides an overview to the resource and provides advice, context and guidelines for teachers engaging in practice marking, critical dialogue and HSC Visual Arts marking in 2020.

Meet the presenters

Our two experienced art teachers Rebecca Donoghue and Jennifer Tislovich briefly introduce themselves and their context.

Produced by Creative Arts 7-12, Curriculum Secondary Learners | Curriculum and Reform Directorate

Contact the curriculum team via the Creative Arts Statewide Staffroom

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Aboriginal people and pay our respect to Country.

© State of New South Wales, Department of Education, 2022

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