The NSW Higher School Certificate, a high stakes, public, end-of-schooling examination has recently been reformed with major changes to syllabi, assessment and reporting; the first cohort completed the examination in 2001. The aim of this research was to investigate teachers' perceptions of the impact of the changes on their work and motivation. Eight focus groups were conducted with volunteer teachers in eight randomly selected public high schools. This paper reports these teachers' perceptions of positive and negative aspects of the changes and related processes. The following issues were identified: speed of implementation, workload, teaching the syllabus to students of differing abilities and literacy levels, interpreting the new syllabus, carrying out new assessment procedures, standards referencing, using new technology, development and availability of new resources, accountability and social support within the faculty.