A parent’s guide to choosing HSC subjects

choosing HSC subjects. high school maths.


Undergoing the HSC can be overwhelming for your child and the family. Choosing HSC subjects correctly may help ease the process for your child.

This guide to choosing HSC subjects will equip carers with the information to help make daunting decisions.

HSC Eligibility Requirements

It is important your child meets the HSC eligibility and subject requirements to receive their ATAR.

The NSW Government Education Standards Authority (NESA) outlines the following requirements:


Most schools will ensure your child meets the below eligibility factors.

  • Satisfactory completion of Years 9 and 10 (or other qualifications that satisfy NESA)
  • Completion of the ‘HSC: All my Own Work’ before submission of any work for Preliminary (Year 11) courses
  • A serious attempt at the required HSC exams
  • Satisfactory completion of the below course requirements

Course Requirements

  • At least 12 units of Preliminary study (Year 11)
  • At least 10 units of HSC study (Year 12)

These patterns of study must include:

  • 2 units of English
  • At least 4 subjects

You may find further information about HSC rules and process here.

What is your child planning to do after school?

It is a good idea to consider potential career paths before choosing HSC subjects.

This will ensure they are:

1. Meeting the prerequisites for university

Schools encourage students to choose subjects according to their preferred university degree. Students can avoid the excess stress of completing a ‘bridging’ course during university.

For example, most engineering courses require an assumed knowledge of 3 units of HSC mathematics and 1-2 HSC science subjects.

choosing HSC subjects. girls studying. high schoool.

Many children will have some uncertainty around their life after Year 12.


  • Have a chat with them about roles they can see themselves working in

It may be a good idea to narrow down to areas they are interested in and help them find relevant courses accordingly. Most of the time similar disciplines will have similar prerequisite requirements.

    • Have them take online quizzes

There are many career pathway quizzes online where students answer a range of questions  to calculate career areas or roles they would be suited to.

  • Encourage them to visit the schools guidance counsellor

Many schools have a careers department or person that students can visit and have a chat to and explore potential courses. If not, you may ask the school for any relevant resources. The University Admissions Centre (UAC) has an annual guide with all the up-to-date courses, cut-offs and perquisites provided by universities.

  • Visit careers expos

HSC Careers Expos are packed with information and resources for HSC, University, TAFE or other courses.

This will give your child the interactive opportunity to ask questions from people working in the field or studying the courses. They will also be able to ask questions about subject choice and get a feel for the course and university they may be interested in.

Many schools allow students to attend Careers Expos from Years 10-12. If not, you can research events in your city that your child may attend.

2. Exploring other pathways

Your child may be considering potential future pathways through other methods of senior study.

At MLC School, students can choose the IB or HSC for their final two years. Considering which stream is more suitable for each girls begins in Year 10, when students examine their personal profile, learning style, interests, future goals and identify potential areas of study after school. Considering these areas in conjunction with choosing HSC subjects encourages students to pick what they enjoy, are more likely to be motivated and successful in, and will ensure they meet University course requirements.

Jo Cilia, Head of Careers and Academic Advising, MLC School, Sydney

choosing HSC subjects. MLC school. HSC.

Should I consider scaling when choosing HSC subjects?

Ida Ajdari, Business Manager and Head Tutor at Sigma Education reveals many of her senior students use scaling to boost their ATAR.

“Let’s say students get 80 in environmental science and 80 in chemistry, the school will typically scale the chemistry higher as it is considered more difficult, and bump up the ATAR. “

She does advise the most important factor is to consider the students personal interests.

“If they don’t work hard or enjoy the subject, a high scaling subject would instead bring their ATAR down. Scaling won’t interfere with them doing well. They should choose a subject if they are passionate and know they are going to do well.”

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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