What is The Higher School Certificate?

Opening doors internationally for your child

Our Pre-University students study the Higher School Certificate (New South Wales Australian curriculum), which also leads to being awarded an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). Both of these credentials enable our students to enter Universities worldwide with a recognised Accreditation.

A fairer and more accurate form of performance assessment

The HSC is also a better reflection of your child’s learning than many other pre-university options – their results do not hinge on performance in one examination.

This method of assessment is recognised by universities and educationalists worldwide as a better measure of learning than exams alone. 

Your child is continually assessed throughout Year 12 with scheduled assessment tasks, which takes up fifty percent of their final mark. They then take an external examination at the end of Year 12, which counts as the other fifty percent of their final mark. This examination is also used to moderate the marks gained for in-school assessments.

The Higher School Certificate therefore rewards consistent effort.

A flexible, academically rigorous qualification
Students can choose to specialise for the HSC, or they can deliberately keep their options open by studying a broad base of subjects.

The only mandatory subject is English, which can be studied at different ability levels. Mathematics is not compulsory: however, most students study this as it is helpful for entry to many university courses. Students have the option of studying at least 6 subjects in Year 11 (12 units) and 5 subjects in Year 12 (10 units). Our students therefore do not need to specialise or limit their fields to a narrow set of options before they have made their career choice.

Universities and employers value students who graduate with a broad skill set, rather than early specialisation, and the HSC recognises this.

The HSC years are intensive and challenging, with many of the skills acquired over their years of schooling coming into play. Students need to be well organised, focused and have an excellent knowledge of the content and how to analyse it and present their ideas.

Higher School Certificate subject choices at AISM
The NSW Board of Studies subject requirements are:

  • English (compulsory) – either English as a Second Language, English Standard or English Advanced
  • Students choose their subject specialisations in Year 11, and cannot change in Year 12; however, many students choose an extra subject in Year 11, which they can choose to withdraw from in Year 12
  • To qualify for an enrolment in English as a Second Language, students must meet the NSW Board of Studies requirements
  • In Year 11 – students must study a minimum of 12 units – six 2 unit subjects or five 2 unit subjects and two 1 unit subjects
  • In Year 12 – students must study a minimum of 10 units

More information on how the HSC works and how it is assessed and moderated can be found on the NSW Board of Studies website

More information about subject choices and the HSC programme is available in our Years 11 and 12 section.