Mathematics is one of the most commonly chosen subjects. If you are the type of student who has a technical mind and enjoy, or are good at thinking in a logical way, you should definitely choose some level of HSC maths. Not only will you find maths interesting, you will also come to realise that it will help you well into your university career and life beyond.
Maths is so universal that it will be a useful skill if you end up doing Commerce, Business, Medicine, Science, Engineering, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy – just about any commonly chosen university course you can think of.
Maths Extension 1 and 2
We also recommend students who are good at maths to enrol in Mathematics Extension 2, to benefit from the subject’s large positive scaling effect. Students often have a hesitation about signing up for Maths Extension 2 when they need to decide near the end of year 11. The issue is, most students find Maths Extension 2 – and rightly so! It is not a subject that can easily mastered, and requires the most practice to familiarise among the different types of questions that can appear in an exam.
However, the scaling benefit is massive – even if you end up scoring the average raw mark for Extension 2, it is equivalent to the top 10%-15% for relatively high scaling subjects like HSC Physics, Chemistry, English Advanced, or Economics, or the top 10% for Biology. This is not including the added benefit of having Maths Extension 1 count for 2 units, instead of 1, which in itself is a huge benefit to your final aggregate score.
Similarly, Maths Extension 1 has a large positive scaling benefit in its own right. Its scaled mean of 40.0 in 2008 continues the trend of it increasing over the past few years. Currently, this places the scaling of Maths Extension 1 equal to that of scoring in the top 15% for English Advanced.
Other advantages of mathematics
There are other less direct advantages of choosing mathematics for your HSC. Firstly, because it is so common, you will find there is an abundance of good textbooks available for the subject. There is also an abundance of free notes and materials on the internet. Also you will find that if you ever need assistance outside of school, HSC maths is one of the most commonly offered subjects when looking for a maths tutor.
However, maths can be challenging at times. It is a subject which requires plenty of practice to master, as much of what goes into making a top maths student comes down to experience. For example, as mentioned in the previous article, How to do well in HSC maths, it is a subject that requires you to literally sit down and do thousands of questions before you gain enough experience for the top band. The main thing you will gain through practice is the ability to see overarching patterns and connections between seemingly unrelated topics – but also after doing so many questions, you will come to a point where you are familiar with every type of maths exam question that can be asked.
Somewhere down the line as you go through the Preliminary course and into the HSC, you may consider whether to seek maths tutoring. The advantage of choosing maths is that so many places offer mathematics tutoring, students have a nice selection of maths tutors to choose from.
Students will also have to decide about whether to seek out a private tutor for maths, or maths tuition classes. Each means of maths tutoring has its own advantages and disadvantages, and there are situations where one is appropriate and the other is not. To illustrate, generally speaking, class tuition is not suitable for students on either extremity of the ability spectrum – those that are exceptionally advanced and those that cannot follow on in a class environment. Those students may benefit more from a private tutor.
On the other hand, students that fall within the majority of the bell curve can benefit greatly from a class environment due to some or all of the following factors:
· Structured environment: reputable maths tutoring providers will always provide learning materials, homework, feedback and deliver their program in a structured way. This is the main thing private tutoring lacks.
· Healthy competition between peers (students know exactly how well they’re doing relative to a sample of above-average students)
· Quality teachers: with private tuition, there’s no guarantee as to the quality of your tutor, whereas reputable tuition providers will always hire high quality tutors as they are experienced in finding and training talented educators.
That’s not to say the more talented individuals benefit less from a structured environment. Often, students find it is of greater benefit to be able to follow a structured study regime which can guarantee a comprehensive coverage of the entire course, rather than leaving it to private tuition, with a teaching approach that can leave gaps in their understanding.
The choice also comes down to economic factors. Private tutors often cost several times the cost of enrolling into a class-structured course.