The exams began at 2,621 centres across Bangladesh at 10 am with Physics Paper 1.
Among the students who have registered for the HSC tests, nearly 730,000 are male and about 670,000 are female.
The pandemic has prevented students from taking many in-person classes and the exams have been adjusted accordingly.
This year's HSC and Secondary School Certificate candidates will not be tested on 12 subjects.
The assessments consist of six papers from the shortened syllabuses of three elective subjects.
Students will get one and a half hours to finish the exams instead of the usual three.
The students from the science stream will need to answer 12 multiple choice questions or MCQs out of 25 in 15 minutes. They will have one hour and 15 minutes to write the answers to two out of eight longer form questions.
Compulsory subjects, such as Bangla and English, will be assessed based on students’ performance in previous public exams.
A host of health regulations have also been introduced to limit the risks from the pandemic. In addition to their admission slip, students will have their temperature checked before entry.
Hand sanitisers and cleaning facilities have been set up near the entrances to exam centres. Isolation rooms have also been arranged.
Steps have also been ordered to control the crowds of parents outside the centres.
Last year’s SSC examinations were completed before the coronavirus was detected in Bangladesh. Though the HSC exams were to be held on Apr 1, the pandemic forced schools to close on Mar 17.
Instead of tests, the results of the HSC last year were based on the students’ performances in Junior School Certificate and SSC exams. This year’s SSC tests were held recently.
The HSC exams are scheduled to end on Dec 30 with Social Science Paper 2 and Social Work Paper 2 in the morning and Sports Paper 2 in the afternoon.