Thursday 27 August 2015

HSC Subject selection

DS1 has just gone through the process of selecting which subjects he will do in years 11-12 for his Higher School Certificate (HSC).

He was already enrolled in Preliminary SDD (Software Design & Development) this year (via distance education through HSCOnline) as an 'accelerate' student, so will be doing his HSC exams for that subject while he in in Year 11. Although computer programming is one of his favourite subjects (he started the Year 9 ITC course while he was in Year 8, but couldn't do it last year as it was no longer offered by HSCOnline), it doesn't 'scale' very well (so, unless he gets in the top 1% in that subject it is unlikely to be included in the 'best 10 units' used to calculate his ATAR for university entry). So it is probably a good idea to get in done while he is in Year 11 next year so he can concentrate on the more demanding (and better scaling) HSC subjects like Ext 2 Math while he is in Year 12. He is also doing a lot of other extracurricular computing activities this year (he completed the UNSW Computing 1 course( 'HS1917') earlier this year, and will be doing his week of 'work experience' at NICTA in term 4), so once his SDD final exam is completed early in term 4 next year he can have a 'gap year' from computing studies while he concentrates on his other HSC subjects.

For his 'real' HSC subjects he is doing English Advanced (no choice about that as 2 units of English has to be included in the HSC and in the 10 units used for ATAR calculation, and everyone at his selective High School does English Advanced rather than Standard) and English Ext 1 (although it's not his best subject, so he may drop English Ext 1 in Year 12 -- although it 'scales' well there isn't any point if he isn't at least in the 'top half' of the class). He might also have to drop Ext 1 English to make room for his other subjects and Ext 2 Maths in his school timetable.

He is also doing Maths and Math Ext 1 in Year 11, and intends adding Math Ext 2 in Year 12 (if his results are good enough). Math Ext 2 'scales' extremely well, so if he has the ability it can be quite time-effective compared to some other subjects that can take an inordinate amount of time (especially those that involve a 'major work' project).

His other subjects are Chemistry, Physics, Economics and Business Studies. He is quite interested in both science and finance/economics so those subject choices should suit him quite well. These subjects also happen to 'scale' quite well (if you achieve a decent result) as they are popular with the more able students. Given that most of the students attending selective high schools have been drawn from the 'top 2%' of students in the state (based on the entry tests done at the end of primary school), he should do fairly well in his HSC mark and ATAR ranking as long as he is in the 'top half' in each subject at his school. Ideally he should be aiming for the top quarter in each class, and possible try for 'first place' in some of his better subjects (he came first in Commerce last year, so he might do quite well in Economics and Business Studies).

Overall, his HSC preliminary subjects (year 11) at school for next year are:
English Advanced + Ext 1 (ie. 3 units)
Mathematics + Ext 1 (ie. 3 units)
Business Studies (2 units)
Chemistry (2 units)
Economics (2 units)
Physics (2 units)
and HSC Software Design and Development  (2 units) taken via distance education.

This is a total of 16 units, which is quite a heavy workload! Fortunately aside from Judo he doesn't have any time consuming extracurricular activities, as he is no longer studying piano.

In his HSC (year 12) at school he will probably be taking some combination of:
English Advanced (+ Ext 1 ?)
Mathematics + Ext 1 (+ Ext 2 ?)
Business Studies

However, as the school rules (and timetabling restrictions) only allow enrollment in 14 units or less for Year 12, he may have to drop a subject if he continues with English Ext 1 and also wants to do Maths Ext 2. He'll be making that decision around this time next year.

Although DS1 will be very busy, I don't think he'll be under too much pressure, as he has no interest in studying either medicine or law at university, and so he should easily get a sufficient ATAR to enrol in whatever science, engineering, computing or economics course he finally decides upon (he is still thinking about what he wants to 'do' at university). It will be interesting to see if he ends up doing well enough to qualify for a university scholarship though...

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