In terms of scaling, choosing HSC maths is generally a positive step towards maximising your UAI / ATAR. Historically, mathematics of all levels have scaled very high relative to other HSC subjects, and this trend has continued into current years. For example, if we look at the latest scaling statistics submitted by the UAC, then we could see some remarkable changes like-
Scaled mean of HSC maths of all levels for the year 2008 were HSC Maths (2 unit) – 30.4, HSC Mathematics Extension 1 – 40.0 and HSC Mathematics Extension 2 – 44.5 respectively.
Scaled mean of HSC maths of all levels for the year 2007 were HSC Maths (2 unit) – 30.5, HSC Mathematics Extension 1 – 39.6 and HSC Mathematics Extension 2 – 43.7 respectively.
The HSC mean mark of HSC maths of all levels were HSC Maths (2 unit) – 38, HSC Mathematics Extension 1 – 40 and HSC Mathematics Extension 2 – 41.8.
From these statistics, we see that all levels of maths have actually increased in scaled mean, with the exception of 2 unit maths. In particular, Maths Extension 2 has increased from a scaled mean of 43.7 to 44.5. This has placed Extension 2 as the second highest scaled subject available to students (first being Classical Greek Extension, at 45.2).
Apart from this, Scaled mean of HSC English Advanced for the year 2008 and 2007 was 31.3 and 31.2 respectively. Moreover, its HSC mean mark was 39.7. Basically, in terms of the benefit to a student’s ATAR, an average raw mark in Maths Extension 2 is equivalent to scoring in the top 2-3% for HSC Physics, Chemistry, or English Advanced. If you score the average raw mark for Maths Extension 2, the number of scaled marks added to your aggregate mark (which is used to calculate your rank position and ultimately ATAR) is the same as if you scored in the 97th-98th percentile in some other relatively high scaling subjects, like HSC Chemistry or Physics. These numbers illustrate the huge scaling effect of Extension 2 maths.
(To find out more about how the HSC scaling process works, read our comprehensive article on the HSC scaling process).
Similarly, Maths Extension 1 also benefits from a large positive scaling effect. In 2008, its scaled mean of 40.0 means that if you scored the average raw mark in Maths Extension 1, the number of marks added to your aggregate mark is the same as if you scored in the top 15% for HSC Chemistry, or Physics, or the top 10% in Biology.
It’s almost that time of year again! Current year 10 students need to start thinking about what subjects to choose for next year. The choices they make now will affect their entire HSC, as the subjects they do in their Preliminary year will become their HSC subjects.
A look into HSC sciences
HSC chemistry and HSC physics are on the rise, with Physics gaining in scaled mean in 2008. The latest scaling statistics published by the UAC shows that both HSC physics and HSC chemistry are on the rise in terms of scaling. As per UAC Report (2008), HSC Chemistry and HSC Physics had a scaled mean of 31.6 and 30.4 respectively. Though Biology’s scaled mean remained unchanged since the previous year. Apart from this, HSC Chemistry and HSC Physics had a HSC mean mark of 37.5 and 36.7 respectively.
We have already mentioned the effects of HSC scaling and how these factors should play into your subject-selection decision. Ultimately we recommend students to choose subjects with at least a decent scaled mean (preferably 30+), that they also genuinely enjoy.
Students should seriously consider selecting HSC sciences for next year (apart from their generally high scaled means), particularly for students with a keen interest in science and a technically oriented mind.
In contrast to mathematics, HSC sciences provide an alternative experience to your HSC. For example, HSC maths is all purely theoretical, dealing with numbers, algebraic expressions, identities and theorems. In essence mathematics is the ‘pure science’. HSC sciences on the other hand offer a more practical perspective applied to real-world situations. This generally has come to mean that students find HSC sciences more of an involving, practical experience, learning about scientific concepts in a context that is applicable to real-world situations.
HSC Chemistry – a brief overview
For example, let’s look at a brief overview of what HSC Chemistry involves. In HSC Chemistry, much of the year 11 course is spent on establishing fundamental concepts such as the mole, the nature of basic materials (states of matter, bonding, inter/intramolecular forces, metals and water – to name a few) as well as ground rules regarding valency, periodic table trends and activity. Chemistry is a course that is heavily based on experience (as there are relatively little general rules or overarching principles to go by, as compared to HSC Physics) so it is important to establish a strong foundation of core principles early on.
In the year 12 course, the more fun aspects of the course begins to show. Many class periods will be spent on conducting experiments. A particular highlight would be titration experiments during the second module: The Acidic Environment, where students get to play with various indicators to observe interesting colour changes in their chemicals.
Other highlights of the course include learning about the industrial processes behind important chemicals in society, such as the production of ethanol, sulfuric acid (general acid), or sodium hydroxide (general base).
Apart from the chemistry behind processes and chemicals, students would also spend much of their time learning about the significance of these chemicals, their impacts on society as well as environmental issues that may arise.
One thing about the current syllabus for all HSC sciences is its emphasis on these ‘significance aspects’ on society and the environment. Some students (especially those who already have a strong grasp of the chemistry and the numbers) somewhat resent this requirement of the syllabus. However, there is value in requiring students to understand the wider implications surrounding the science taught. For example, it is satisfying and useful to know how a lead-acid battery works in terms of chemistry, but also be able to describe its negative environmental issues as compared to modern cells like a Lithium-ion or Vanadium-redox cell. Similarly, much of the surrounding aspects of HSC chemistry will become fully appreciated as students grasp the content beyond the mere core scientific principles.