How The HSC Works in NSW - Everything You Need To Know

It's that time of year again - the HSC is almost upon us! If you're a Year 12 student in NSW, this is your chance to show what you've got and get into the university course of your dreams.

The HSC is a two-year course that culminates in exams at the end of Year 12. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it - your HSC results will determine whether you get into university and, ultimately, what career you'll have.

So how can you make sure you do well in your HSC? In this article, we'll give you all the tips and tricks you need to know. We'll start with an overview of the HSC and how it works, then we'll move on to some specific tips for studying and doing well in your exams.

Ready to ace the HSC? Let's get started!

What is the HSC?

The Higher School Certificate (HSC) is the credential you will receive upon completing secondary education in New South Wales.

The HSC is generally completed over two years, in Years 11 and 12, and is the highest award you can achieve in the state's school system. In order to be eligible to sit for the HSC, you must have satisfactorily completed 10 years of schooling, including at least six years at an NSW high school.

The HSC is used by universities as a basis for admission into undergraduate courses and is also recognised by employers as an indication of your academic achievement. Your HSC results will determine your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), which is a score out of 100 that is used to compare your academic performance with other students.

How Do You Attain Your HSC?

To attain your HSC, you must satisfactorily complete at least 10 units of study from a list of approved courses. There are three categories of courses: core subjects, board-developed courses, and other accredited courses. Core subjects are those that are compulsory for all students, while board-developed and other accredited courses are electives that you can choose from.

what subject you need to complete in order to be eligible for an ATAR


What Are the Core Subjects for the HSC?

The core subjects required for the HSC are English, Mathematics, Science, and History. In addition to these four subjects, you must also complete at least two board-developed or other accredited courses. You can choose to study additional board-developed or other accredited courses as well, but it is not required.

Can the HSC be Completed in One Year?

The HSC is typically completed over two years, in Years 11 and 12. However, it is possible to complete the HSC in a shorter timeframe if you are able to satisfactorily complete all of the necessary units of study in a single year. This is known as an accelerated HSC.

How Is the ATAR Score Calculated?

ATAR stands for Australian Tertiary Admission Rank and is the score used by universities to determine which students will be offered a place in different courses. The ATAR score is calculated using a student's results from their Year 12 exams, and is designed to give universities an indication of a student's academic ability.

There are a few different things that go into the ATAR score calculation, but the two main factors are the scaled mark and the raw mark.

1. Raw Mark

The raw mark is the student's actual result in each exam, before it has been adjusted for difficulty. So, if a student got 70% in an exam, their raw mark would be 70.

2. Scaled Mark

The scaled mark is the student's result for each exam, adjusted to account for the difficulty of the exam. This means that a student who gets a high mark in a difficult exam will have a higher scaled mark than a student who gets a lower mark in an easier exam.

The scaled mark is basically your exam result converted into a scale that goes from 0-99.95. This conversion takes into account how difficult the exam was, as well as how well all students who sat the exam did. So, a student who gets a high mark in a difficult exam will have a higher scaled mark than a student who gets a lower mark in an easier exam.

To calculate the scaled mark, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) looks at how all students who sat the exam performed. They then adjust the marks so that the average scaled mark is 50.

What Is Considered a “Good” ATAR?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as each university and course has different ATAR requirements. However, in general, a good ATAR is one that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for your chosen universities and courses.

If you’re not sure what ATAR you need to get into your chosen course, you can use an online ATAR calculator.

there is more to your university application than your atar from HSC results


Which Schools Have Historically Performed the Best in the HSC?

Some of the schools that have performed the best in the HSC in NSW over the years include James Ruse Agricultural High School, Baulkham Hills High School, and North Sydney Boys High School.

These schools have consistently had students achieve high marks and rank highly in the state. Other schools that have also performed well in the past include Sydney Boys High School, Fort Street High School, and Knox Grammar School. While there is no one school that outperforms all others every year, these are some of the institutions that have a history of producing high-achieving students.

When Are HSC Results Released?

Once you have completed your HSC, your results will be released in early December. Your ATAR score will be released along with your results, and this will be used by universities to determine your eligibility for admission into their undergraduate courses.

If you are not satisfied with your ATAR score, you can choose to retake the HSC in order to improve your score. However, you must wait at least one year before you are eligible to retake the exam.

How Can I Improve My Chances of Scoring a High ATAR?

There's no one answer to this question - everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and what works for one person might not work for another. However, here are some general tips that might help you boost your HSC score:

Make sure you understand the content inside out

This means attending all classes and paying attention in class, doing all of the assigned readings, and really understanding the material. Some students try to learn the course content solely from textbooks or notes, but this is often not enough - listening to lectures and discussions can also give you important insights into the material.

Practice, practice, practice

Once you understand the course content, it's important to practice applying it. This could mean doing past HSC papers or working through practice questions from textbooks. The more you practice, the better you'll become at using the course content to answer questions.

Get organised and plan ahead

The HSC is a big undertaking, so it's important to be organised and have a study plan. This will help you make sure you're covering all of the material and not leaving anything to the last minute.

Talk to your teachers. Your teachers are there to help you, so don't be afraid to ask them for advice or assistance. They can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and give you tips on how to improve.

Find a study buddy

Sometimes it can be helpful to find someone else who is also doing the HSC and studying for the same subjects. You can help each other out by discussing material, practicing questions, and generally keeping each other motivated.

Invest in a tutor

A tutor can help improve HSC results by providing targeted assistance with specific subject matter, offering guidance on exam technique, and helping to develop a positive study habits.

Tutors can work with students one-on-one or in small groups, and they can provide either general academic support or more specific help with particular subjects. In either case, a tutor can offer tailored advice and feedback that can make a real difference to a student's performance.

Finally, an effective high school tutor will help a student develop positive study habits. Many students know what they need to do to succeed but find it difficult to stick to good habits like regular studying and keeping on top of assignments. A tutor can provide support and motivation, and help a student develop a system for tracking progress and keeping on track. This can make a big difference in terms of both short-term results and long-term success.

benefits off gettinga tutor to help you with HSC exam prep

Take care of yourself

It's important to look after yourself both physically and mentally during the HSC period. Make sure you're eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks when you need them. And if you're finding the whole process overwhelming, don't be afraid to seek out professional help - there are plenty of people who can support you through this tough time.

The HSC is a demanding academic program, but it is also an immensely rewarding experience. If you put in the hard work, you will be rewarded with a credential that will open up many doors for you in your future.