Preparing Students for Successful Future

What does the HSC stand for?

The HSC stands for the High School Certificate that one earns after completing Year 11 and 12 studies. In Australia, education starts with six years of primary schooling (Years 1-6). It is followed by six years of high school education (Years 7-12). Since most children enrol in schools when they are about 5 years old, they graduate from high school at the age of 17 or 18 years.

The HSC or the High School Certificate marks the end of their school education and indicates they are ready to join the workforce or higher education at the tertiary level (colleges and universities).

What is the purpose of HSC?

When students complete their Year 11 and Year 12 coursework successfully, they graduate from high school with the High School Certificate (HSC). They can, then, enrol in a college or university for tertiary education. Or they may join a course in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector that focus on providing skills to people who want to join the workforce.

Most of the courses offered to students, who have graduated from high school, ask for a minimum HSC score as the eligibility criterion for admission. HSC performance of a student is ranked from 1 to 25 - depending on the subject combination students opt for and their HSC exam results.

HSC subjects students have to study compulsorily include English, Physical Education, Mathematics, and Natural Science. Students also choose from a wide range of optional subjects, such as:

  • Business Studies
  • History
  • Geography
  • Legal Studies
  • Information Processes and Technology
  • Dance

Students may also choose to study Advanced Mathematics, Sciences or English depending on which career they are planning for.

How does HSC work in the different Australian States?

The HSC or the High School Certificate is awarded in New South Wales. In different states of Australia, it is known by other names. In Victoria, it is known by the name of Victoria Certificate of Education (VCE). In Queensland, it is known by the name of Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). In Tasmania, senior school students graduate to receive the Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE).

Western Australia awards the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) to the students graduating from senior secondary schools. South Australia awards the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) to the graduating high school students.

The Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) nationalise the Year 12 university ranks across Australia (except those of Queensland) to generate the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). The ATAR is used to select prospective candidates for various courses.

To take HSC exams, students have to choose and complete four types of courses:

  • Board Developed Courses: These include courses examined by the Board of Studies and contribute towards the students' ATAR.
  • Board Endorsed Courses: These courses do not contribute towards ATAR calculation and are developed by schools, universities and TAFE (Technical And Further Education) institutes.
  • Life Skills Courses: These courses are meant for students with special education needs and do not contribute towards ATAR calculation.
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET) Courses: Vocational courses may be developed or endorsed by the Board. Students may take board-developed VET courses which contribute to their ATAR rank or board-endorsed VET courses which do not contribute to their ATAR rank. Some of these vocational courses involve mandatory work placements.

To get an HSC, students must complete the HSC course requirements and sit for state-wide HSC tests. Generally speaking, HSC course requirements include:

  • In Year 11, 12 preliminary units need to be completed.
  • In Year 12, 10 HSC units need to be completed.

These units must include:

  • 6 Board Developed courses, including:
  • 2 units of Board Developed Course in English
  • 3 Courses of 2 or more units, and
  • 4 Subjects.

The subject here means an area of study. For example, Mathematics, English, and Biology subjects. Within one subject, there can be several courses. For example, English is a subject which has four English courses to choose from:

  • English Studies: A Board Developed Course, it is meant for students who want to move into vocational training or employment after school.
  • English Standard: It teaches students to become effective communicators and use language accurately and appropriately.
  • English Advanced: It's a prerequisite or corequisite for English Extension courses. English Extension 1 course refers to a specialised study of the language while English Extension 2 requires students to create a Major Work.
  • English as an Additional Language or Dialect (English EAL/D): The course is designed especially for overseas students who have studied in English for five years or less.

HSC tutors in Australia say that it takes about one semester (or half-a-year of work) to complete one unit. English is the only compulsory subject for HSC aspirants.

What are the different HSC pathways students can opt for?

Most students complete their HSC in two years - by completing Years 11 and 12 course requirements while they are in high school. But some students look for other ways to acquire a high school certificate. Their reasons might differ, including:

  • They work while they study.
  • They need to take care of their family.
  • They play sports or participate in cultural activities as a professional.

Five HSC pathways exist to cater to such students. These are:

  • Accumulating Pathway: Students can complete their course requirements within five consecutive years and must meet the HSC minimum standard of Level 3 or 4 in online reading, writing, and numeracy tests. Students with a disability who are studying Life Skills Courses are exempted from taking these online tests.

Students will only receive an HSC credential if they meet the minimum standard. But they are allowed to study, sit for HSC tests, and receive their exam results, ATAR and school achievement record.

  • Repeating Pathway: Within the five years, students can repeat one or more courses. Their HSC result will show the results of all attempts but their ATAR will be calculated using the HSC score of their most recent attempt.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Pathway: Some TAFE courses or other Board Endorsed Courses may allow you the 'credit transfer' facility. You may also be exempted from completing some of the course components if you have studied them earlier in another state.
  • Accelerating Pathway: Students may choose to get their HSC certificate early (by the end of Year 11) by completing their course requirements in one year - at an accelerated pace.
  • Apprenticeship or Traineeship Pathway: The VET framework allows students to do paid work as an apprentice or a trainee (as advised by the school) while they receive training and use those credentials to fulfil HSC requirements.

Many Australian universities (like Macquarie University, University of New South Wales, Charles Sturt University, University of New England, etc.) offer the HSC-University pathway for high-achieving students at the secondary school level. The HSC University Pathways program allows students to enrol in the first-year university course while they are in Year 11. This Pathway is open for students who have cleared at least one HSC course with Band 6 or E4 grade. These students must also have the endorsement of their High School Principal and approval of their parents or guardians.

CrunchGrade offers the best online tutors who can help all students by providing them with all the HSC information they need. They can also help students and their parents understand the HSC guidelines in detail. Whether you need a Math tutor in Sydney or an English tutor in Perth or a Science tutor in Brisbane, we bring you the best tutors in Australia available to you in one click.

How to select HSC Subjects?

In Year 10, students have to choose which HSC subjects they will study for the next two years. While the English subject is compulsory, they have an option to choose the rest of the subjects according to their higher education study plan and career plan.

To choose the right subject, one has to first be clear of their skills, interests, and choose a career. The online tutors on our site can help students explore different careers and choose one that is best suited to them. They can also guide you on which HSC subjects they should opt for according to their chosen career path. You should also keep in mind which subjects will be counted towards your ATAR.

HSC offers more than 127,000 different study paths depending on your subject combinations. Having a trusted and expert guidance to help you choose subjects can have far-reaching advantages.

How to pick up HSC courses?

Many students are obsessed with courses that they think will scale up in the future. Instead, you should choose courses according to your ability and what you want to do after Year 12. You may also check the university admission booklets and see which courses you might want to join after graduating from high school. Check the prerequisites for the courses you shortlist. These may help you choose the right courses to study in high school.

In most cases, if you score around 70 in the HSC, your ATAR should be in the 50s. But if you score around 80 in the HSC, your ATAR might push up to 80s too. If you perform well in HSC courses, your selection rank will be higher and you will be able to get admission in your chosen course easily.

Tutors in Australia suggest that all students should aim for earning Band 4 and above in all the courses they take. Students should also keep in mind that higher scores in a lower-level course do not work well in pushing up their ATAR rank. Hence, one should ideally pick the best courses within their ability.

You can find the best HSC tutors online at CrunchGrade to choose the right subjects and tutors, and prepare for your HSC exams.

How does HSC assessment work?

The HSC is assessed on the basis of:

  • marks students score in school-based assessments, and
  • their HSC exam results.

The average of school assessments and exam results is drawn to calculate the HSC mark. The minimum expected standard HSC students are expected to meet is '50' on a scale of 1-100. When a student earns 50 or more marks, HSC results describe what level or standard that mark represents

School-based assessments carry a 50% weight in HSC marks reported on the students' Record of Achievement. These include:

  • written assignments
  • written tests
  • practical activities
  • projects, and
  • fieldwork

They are assessed by school teachers and these marks are submitted by schools to the Board of Studies. Students have to complete each course they take satisfactorily. One needs at least 50% of marks in school assessments in each course.

CrunchGrade tutors can offer you a complete package of academic support services, including helping you with writing assignments, preparing for tests, and doing projects and practicals. They also offer you online tuitions for HSC students and help them prepare for their exit exams.

Students also take HSC examination for each Board Developed Course they take, which may in the form of:

  • Submitted Work
  • Written Exams, or
  • Practical Examinations.

Students taking VET courses have mandatory work placement components. They receive HSC marks for only Board Developed Accounting courses and Industry Curriculum Framework courses after taking the examination. Along with the HSC Record of Achievement, VET students also receive a VET certificate.

HSC results are usually declared in December and the students receive HSC documentation by mail in January. These include:

  • an HSC Certificate,
  • a Record of Achievement, and
  • a Course Report for each Board Developed Course a student takes.

The New South Wales (NSW) Education Standards Authority (NESA) prepares four merit lists every year which are released in December. These include:

  • List of students who stand ‘First’ in each ‘Course’.
  • List of ‘All Round Achievers’ for students who score the highest band in 10 or more units of HSC courses.
  • List of ‘Top Achievers’ for students who receive the top place in a course in the highest band.
  • List of ‘Distinguished Achievers’ for students who score the highest band in one or more courses.

The New South Wales government awards students who score more than 90 marks in more than 10 units of HSC courses with the ‘Premier’s Award’. Most outstanding of these students may also win the ‘Australian Student Prize’ by the Commonwealth Government. The Mathematical Association of New South Wales awards the ‘T G Room’ award to the student who tops the highest level HSC Mathematics exam.

How do HSC Marks correspond to Performance Bands?

The HSC mark is the average of the school assessment mark and the exam mark for each course. Half marks are round up to the nearest whole number. Hence, if a student scores 95 in the exam and gets 90 in the school assessment for a course, his HSC mark would be the average of the two or 92.5, which will be rounded off to 93.

Performance Bands are based on cut-off marks. They are calculated as follows:

  • If a student scores less than 50, his or her Band Score is 1.
  • If a student scores between 50 and 59, his or her Band Score is 2.
  • If a student scores between 60 and 69, his or her Band Score is 3.
  • If a student scores between 70 and 79, his or her Band Score is 4.
  • If a student scores between 80 and 89, his or her Band Score is 5.
  • If a student scores 90 or above, his or her Band Score is 6.

Performance Bands for Extension Courses are calculated as follows:

  • If a student scores less than 25, his or her Band Score is E1
  • If a student scores between 25 and 34, his or her Band Score is E2.
  • If a student scores between 35 and 44, his or her Band Score is E3.
  • If a student scores 45 or above, his or her Band Score is E4.

How to prepare for your HSC exam?

First, you need to know the HSC syllabus of all the courses you opt for. You should also read the HSC guidelines regarding the course outcomes, assessments, and reporting carefully.

On CrunchGrade, you can check out the HSC past paper of the sample HSC test paper for your course. Check them out to see what type of questions you can expect in the exam. These sample papers and past papers also help you to assess your knowledge and check where your HSC exam preparation stands.

But remember, HSC exam format and question topics may change. You cannot assume that the questions or topics asked in previous years' HSC question papers will repeat themselves in the exam. You have to study well, read the questions carefully, and answer the question appropriately. CrunchGrade tutors will not only help you master the topics in your syllabus but also advise you on how to answer questions correctly. They will help you understand how to figure out the nature, intent, and format of a question and then, write and answer them accordingly.


F.A.Q

The Higher School Certificate (HSC) is the highest educational award you achieve at the end of secondary school in Australia. You start studying for it in the Preliminary Year (Year 11) and complete it at the end of Year 12. Your HSC Year begins in Term 4 for most students when you get a copy of the HSC Rules and Procedures guide (which outlines important HSC information regarding enrolment, assessment, exams and results) and sign the 'Confirmation of Entry' form.

The HSC credential is essential for taking admission into tertiary education courses or joining the workforce.

If you don't sit for the HSC exam, you fail in HSC. You cannot get marks solely based on your school assessment marks. You will still get an HSC certificate but your ATAR will be ruined which will pose a problem if you want to enrol in a college or a university later - in Australia or overseas.

In case you are not able to attend the exam because you fall sick or get injured, you will have to fill an illness/misadventure form available at your school and submit the independent evidence for it. If you arrive late for the exam, then also you may have to fill the form and provide an explanation for why you were late.

You should also write to the BOSTES (Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards) if there were other reasons for your delay which were beyond your control.

You should choose the HSC subjects you love and also scale well. You can start with shortlisting all the subjects you like, put your career plan in front of you, and then, decide which of them suit your career plan.

For example, Chemistry and English Standard are recommended prerequisite HSC courses for Medicine courses. Mathematics Extension 1 and Biology HSC courses are recommended prerequisites for Dentistry courses.

Contact the CrunchGrade student counsellors now to get help with the HSC subjects and courses you should choose.