How HSC works and how to prepare for it

How to understand New South Wales' Year 12 system

The Higher School Certificate (HSC): What is it?

Exactly how the HSC works can be a constant source of confusion for both parents and students; but it is a major milestone for high school students in New South Wales and can very well be the difference between reaching their college dreams or having to re-think them.

This article takes you through exactly how this HSC system works - so parents and students alike can be well-prepared and confident that they know exactly what lies ahead on the journey towards graduation day.


For Australian students, the HSC (Higher School Certificate) program offers a range of two-unit and one-unit courses. Year 11 is all about getting your 12 units in – that’s usually 6 subjects for you to juggle! But when it comes time for Year 12, the number drops down to 10 units - but only the best 10 will count towards an ATAR score.

Every unit has 50 marks for grabs; so if you take 2 classes as part of a single subject area, you can expect to score up to 100 sweet points during marking season!

Some students choose to continue with their full course load from Year 11 to provide a backup, in case of poor performance on an exam that could impact their ATAR. Because afterall, only the best 10 will count towards your final ATAR.

And lastly, the final grade for each subject is based on 50% internal marks and 50% on the external exam, regardless of the number of units in the subject.

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To understand the HSC (Higher School Certificate) program in Australia and how each subject contributes to your final ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score, you can book in a free consultation with one of our KIS Academics tutors.

KIS tutors have a deep understanding of their subjects and are experts in acing their HSCs. They can help you navigate the curriculum requirements so you're in the best position to land your dream university course. You can also look through the resources below for a comprehensive understanding of how the HSC works.

Understanding the


system 🧠

The first thing we recommend you do is understand how the curriculum works. This will help you choose subjects, understand marking schemes and how it all impacts what university course you can do:

Calculating your



Once you've got an idea of what subjects you want to do and how you'll approach your studies, you can experiment with a predicted ATAR using an ATAR Calculator.

Get your


English Analysis

Marked ✅

In-school assessments are a common and important part of your final ATAR score. If you want an expert to look over your work and provide feedback before your teacher does, you've come to the right place!

Getting the right


resources 📚

Knowing how things work is only half the challenge. You'll need to make sure that you find the best resources available for each subject you choose to do. Here are some of the most popular resources for common subjects:

Finding the best


tutors 🎓

The best way to improve your chance of success is by finding a great mentor or tutor. Finding a good one can be difficult, but we recommend looking for a tutor who:
1️⃣ is young and relatable so lessons are engaging
2️⃣ has a good academic record, achieved a high ATAR themselves is an expert at your subject
3️⃣ loves teaching and genuinely cares about their students.
Here are some of our most popular tutors who fulfil all three criteria themselves:

Connie Yeung


Hi! I'm Connie, and I've had over a year's experience tutoring students just like you, so whatever help you need - from building a strong foundation for a subject, or needing a push over the edge to excel even more in a subject you're already acing - you can be confident you're in safe hands with me. My goal is to make sure you achieve your fullest potential, and I'll be with you as both a tutor and a friend every step of the way.

Early on, I didn't have a consistent mentor figure who'd gone through the same difficulties I was experiencing in school. I struggled to balance my education with the rest of my life and it felt like a lonely battle against serial procrastination, strict deadlines and a lack of motivation to study. Luckily, my teachers played a huge role in helping me pull myself together when I reached out for help, so I hope to be the same mentor figure to you, as they were to me. With my students, I always try to foster a comfortable learning environment that helps build individual and critical thinking skills, focusing heavily on applications of theory and how to improve based on the feedback I provide each lesson. My longer term focus is to help them develop a positive, healthy and sustainable relationship with studying that is unique to the way they learn, a mindset that will help them beyond their high school years. 

I also strongly believe that academics, whether you're a high school student in your final year or not, is something that needs to be well balanced alongside the other aspects of your life. Else, you'll just get burnt out really quickly. Personally, I like to balance my studies with travelling every so often, making art, and hitting the gym -- all of which I usually try to do with my friends and family. And now that you know a little about me, I hope I can get to know you as well! I really look forward to meeting you and watching you thrive :) 

Angela Wang


Hi! I'm Angela, and after going through the 5 stages of grief repeatedly during my time in school, I'm here to make sure you don't have to do the same!

I'm currently studying a Doctor of Medicine at UNSW, after graduating from James Ruse Agricultural High School with an ATAR of 99.90 and 95+ marks in all my subjects. But, don't be fooled, HSC was definitely a bleugh experience for me as well. So, I would love to use my own experiences (both as a high achieving student and as a tutor with 200+ hours of lessons taught) to streamline your academic learning and get the results you want with less of the struggle!

I believe that building a solid foundation of understanding in any subject is the key to avoiding that painful last minute panic-study. Whereas schools tend to teach in a non-specific memorisation-heavy approach, I can cater lessons to your learning style specifically and structure lessons to focus on conceptual understanding! I also believe in strategic approaches to learning, so I'll always take you through exam tips and the most high-yield content!


Wondering how online lessons work? I conduct all lessons via zoom video calls, alongside screenshare/shared online whiteboard, depending on what works for you! To let you focus on learning during the class, all lesson notes are neatly collated and emailed after lessons, along with any practice questions/homework if you would like extra resources.


I'm here to be your 'emotional support tutor'! Having been through the grind myself, I want to make your academic life easier and make sure you don't have to panic study for 6 hours every day. Whether you need extra support, assessment help, or want to get ahead, I'm more than happy to help! :)

[Current availabilities are limited: only Wednesday and Sundays]

Francis Nguyen


99.85 ATAR | 2nd in NSW Extension 2 Maths |

Hi guys! I have been tutoring for over 3 years now and graduated with an ATAR of 99.85 attending Sydney Boys High School. I'm currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Griffith University.

During high school, I was constantly involved in extracurricular activities, training for and playing sport basically every day, while maintaining a very high academic standard. This made me very efficient in the way I had to study, making sure I had a very thorough understanding of the concepts by developing techniques that would make them easy to understand and help maximise my marks.

The way I studied is reflected in the way I work with students, not only teaching them complex concepts in a more simplified manner, but also helping them build habits that yield consistent performance beyond high school as well. My teaching style and homework provided is tailored to each student's needs, ensuring that they receive the proper attention they need for all facets of their education.

I also offer very comprehensive online tutoring, as I have a writing pad which allows me to actively immerse students in lessons the same way I would face-to-face. At times, online tutoring can be more convenient and effective, and if needed I can provide students with a writing pad to further this experience.

As it approaches final exam season, I have spots available for both individuals and groups to take advantage of specialised exam revision sessions to maximise marks for final exams.

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As a year 11 student doing ATAR, I was looking for a tutor that could help me with French. KIS Academics was incredibly helpful and fast at finding me a wace french tutor who could assist me with my studies. My tutor Eliza Carey over the past few months has helped me so much not only in French but in biology and maths as well. I’m incredibly grateful for the effort and commitment she has put into helping me be more comfortable and less stressed about the subjects I was having difficulty with. It’s been nothing but an honour to be tutored by Eliza and I strongly recommend her as a tutor

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Why should you even listen to us?

Hello there! I'm Manoj - the founder of Keep It Simple Academics (Or KIS Academics for short).

KIS Academics is an Australia-wide tutoring company that has helped hundreds of students achieve their academic potential. Through these last few years, I've learned a thing or two about how tutoring works. Now it's my goal to grow KIS Academics and help more students across Australia achieve their dreams (and somehow complete my medical degree in one piece 😅)

In the last three years:

✅ We've helped C students get straight As.

✅ We've helped wannabe doctors get into Australia's best medical schools

✅ We've helped students who live in rural towns gain opportunities to go to metropolitan universities.

✅ We've helped students who hate maths find their passion for it

✅ We've even helped some students get into an IVY league college.

But rather than listening to me ramble on about how great KIS Academics is, book a study skills consultation with one of our tutors and experience it firsthand!

KIS Academics
It's the people around you that help you achieve your potential

That's why we set out to hire only the best tutors in Australia.

High quality tutors at competitive prices.

We have hundreds of amazing, qualified online tutors offering top quality services, starting at just $40 per hour. Whether the student is in high school or primary school, we cater for all. So, why are our tutors so amazing compared to other companies? It's simple, we pay them better. We take a low commission so you can get top scoring private tutors at the best rates. Discover our team of dedicated tutors who specialize in various subjects, from Chemistry and Maths to English and UCAT, as well as offering support for high school, HSC, and VCE, and many more. View all tutoring locations.

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Paying for an initial lesson with a tutor you've never met is absolutely crazy! And surprisingly, that's what most tutoring places will ask you to do. We think you deserve to meet your tutor and make sure they're the right fit for you - free of charge. Request a tutor and they will reach out to you to organise this free trial session!

Online courses to rival any classroom

Skeptical about online courses? Trust us, you won't be for long. With tutors specifically trained to deliver content online and use the latest and greatest teaching tools, we'll make you wish you had done things with KIS from the start. You can watch, rewatch, revise and review content as often as you need to. Starting at only $8 per week.

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