The term ‘accelerating’ refers to doing a HSC subject one year earlier than usual. This usually means completing one or several HSC subjects during year 11. Some schools allow some of their top students to choose a subject to accelerate in – this is certainly a common practice in the higher-ranked selective schools.
The decision of whether to accelerate in a HSC subject is often made early, often near the end of year 9. This is because the student must complete the required Preliminary component of the course during his/her year 10 (as an elective). The school must approve this, and generally only the top students in each school that offers accelerated learning will be approved to accelerate in a HSC subject.
Certain HSC subjects are more commonly accelerated than other subjects; subjects such as Mathematics (2 unit), Physics Chemistry, Economics, Biology etc are examples.
Students who accelerate in a HSC subject are often of above-average ability; after all, they were determined by their school teachers to be capable of learning the course content at an accelerated pace. In terms of achievement, accelerated students often occupy between a fifth and a third of the top 20 ranks in NSW for their subjects, even though they represent a much lower fraction of the total candidature.
Accelerated students also enjoy a number of advantages, such as having a lighter workload during their year 12, or having more completed units that can potentially contribute towards their ATAR (diversifying their risk). However, accelerated students also face a number of unique challenges stemming from being required to complete an entire HSC subject on year ahead of schedule. In this article, we’ll go through some of the benefits and challenges that come with accelerating in a subject.
Benefits of accelerating
Earlier exposure to HSC
Accelerated students are exposed to the HSC assessment regime at school (internal assessments) as well as the final HSC exam one year earlier than their peers. This is probably the biggest benefit of accelerating a HSC subject. Accelerated students therefore have more experience at doing HSC-style exams and HSC-style internal assessments than their peers by the time they reach year 12.
Additionally, because students only accelerate in one subject in most cases, the risk of that one subject having a big adverse effect is relatively low. The accelerated subject is essentially a ‘trial run’ for the student to learn the ropes early, before the main event that is year 12.
Lighter workload during year 12
Accelerated students, having completed at least 2 units by the time they reach year 12, would have lightened their workload by the same amount. That is, students can choose to do as little as 8 units in year 12, allowing for more time to focus on fewer subjects. This is obviously advantageous!
Another possibility is students can choose to take on more units than they otherwise would be able to take. This diversifies the risk of doing badly in any individual subject across more subjects – since the ATAR is calculated from your top 10 units, if you’ve completed 14 or 16 units after your HSC, you have less chance that a particular subject you did badly in would be within your top 10 units.
Subjects with Extension levels
Say you accelerate in a subject with Extension levels, such as Maths or English. For Mathematics (2 unit) in particular (probably the most commonly accelerated HSC subject), the content learned in that course is completely relevant to Extension 1 and 2, which builds upon the concepts covered in 2 unit. The majority of 2 unit accelerants go onto doing Extension 2 in year 12 – these students would have had a total of 3 years to grasp relevant maths concepts, starting from year 10.
Challenges of accelerating
Accelerants are faced with the unique situation of doing an actual HSC exam in year 11. This can be daunting, as accelerants would have one year less practice and exposure to the whole process: the style of exams and internal assessments, as compared to their peers. This lack of experience usually translates to relatively lower ability in exam skills, such as structuring answers properly for full or partial marks. and effective time management during exams.
A more hurried schedule in the subject means accelerants notice less patterns / links / connections between aspects of the subject – a factor that is important to success in every subject.
Accelerants may also find that their year 11 schedule will be usually busy at times, since their school would likely implement assessment schedules without much consideration for accelerants. There may be assessment periods that coincide with the year 12 assessment period, and during exam periods, accelerants may find they have 2 exams on the same day.
However, these are mere challenges to be overcome, as the benefits outweigh the cost. Year 9 students: if offered at your school, you should consider taking an accelerated HSC subject.
Mathematics (2 unit)
We offer a tailored Accelerated Mathematics (2 unit) tutoring course which is specifically designed to help year 11s doing their HSC for Mathematics (2 unit) in the same year. We believe accelerated students have slightly different needs to normal year 12 students.
For more information on our Accelerated Mathematics (2 unit) tutoring course, click Mathematics (2 unit)