How do I know what subjects to choose for year 11?
Thinking about what you want to do in university when you’re just a year 10 student may seem like a daunting task. Your year 11 subjects can play a significant role in what degree you want to do in university.
We’ll help break down what you need to know to make life easier for you.
What is the difference between my HSC marks and my ATAR?
It is important to remember that your HSC marks and your ATAR are different. Your HSC marks are given by the Board of Studies, while your ATAR is a rank given by the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC).
Your HSC results are the series of marks you get after your you sit your HSC exams – they are a combination of your school assessments and your marks from the HSC exam.
Your ATAR is your rank compared to all the students that started year 7 with you in the state. It is a number between 0.00 and 99.95.
If you have an ATAR of 93.50, then you performed better than 93.50% of your cohort (or you are in the top 6.50% of the state). UAC converts your HSC marks into an ATAR, and this is what universities look at for selection into their courses.
Why do we need an ATAR? Why can’t universities just look at my HSC marks?
Every student does a different combination of subjects, so it would be impossible to compare how well each student has performed. Each subject has varying difficulty, so it would be hard to say that someone who scored 95 in Maths General performed better than someone who scored 87 in Maths Extension 2. Having an ATAR ensures that each student’s overall performance is much more accurately represented.
Are there any requirements to the subjects I can choose?
At least 2 units of English is compulsory for both the HSC and ATAR – every student needs to be taking at least English Standard or Advanced. For year 11, you need to complete at least 12 units. When you go into year 12, you have the option to drop 2 of those units.
If you are thinking of doing Maths Ext 2 in year 12, then you must do Maths Ext 1 in year 11. The same goes for English Ext 2.
Apart from that, you can feel free to choose whatever subjects you want.
How do I know what subjects to do?
It is important to choose subjects that you enjoy and are good at. If you choose subjects you are interested in, you are more likely to do better in the HSC. Talk to your teachers or parents and seek their advice on where they think your strengths lie.
It would be a very good idea to have a look at what degrees you want to do in uni, because quite a few have prerequisites or recommended subjects. English Advanced is compulsory, but Maths Advanced is also now a prerequisite for some university courses. You can go onto their website and have a look at their courses catalog. You can also go to university open days or information sessions to find out more about what different courses offer. (Scroll to the end to have a look at some sample subject requirements for different courses across a few universities)
Should I just pick subjects with high scaling?
Picking subjects with high scaling should not be the priority – while it is good to consider doing them, you shouldn’t blindly pick those that are considered to have high scaling. Scaling only works if you perform well in the subject. There is no point in picking Maths Ext 2 for example if you hate maths or are not very good at it – scaling doesn’t help you here. It is advantageous to pick high scaling subjects if you enjoy them or know you are good at them.
Take note of which subjects require you to produce a major work or performance. For example, subjects like Visual Arts and Design and Technology have a major work as part of the HSC assessment. Music and Drama require you to do a performance. These may take up more time outside of school for you to prepare and complete.
First, pick the subjects you enjoy (you will have to study them for the next 2 years). Then do some research into all the potential degrees you want to do in university – take note of which subjects are recommended or prerequisites. If there are any subjects that you really don’t like that are recommended or prerequisite, then you need to make the decision whether you want to pursue that degree.
One important advice to keep in mind, is to choose English Advanced over English Standard. Even though you might hate english or think you are terrible at it, it is much more beneficial for you to pick English Advanced. While it is more complex than standard english, you will benefit from the scaling. Many universities require a minimum of English Advanced for some courses. If you do find advanced english a struggle, you will always have the option to drop it.
University of Sydney
University of New South Wales
University of Technology, Sydney
Click here is a link to a really useful resource, specially catered for year 10 students in 2018. It gives a comprehensive guide to all you need to know!