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.

Continue reading...

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:

Emma Ashley


Hi, my name is Emma Ashley and I graduated in 2020 with a 99.45 ATAR. Since then, I have gone on to study Law with Honours and PPE, politics philosophy and economics, at the Australian National University. I have been involved with KIS Academics in many capacities over the last 2 years, namely as the NSW state consultant, Events manager, Sales Manager, English Advanced Online Course developer and the Productivity Planner creator.

I have been tutoring since I finished my HSC, with approximately 20 hours of lessons every week. This means across the past (close to) 3 years I have tutored 60+ students … and counting! Why you may ask? Because I genuinely love sharing knowledge with others. There is nothing more valuable to me than seeing a student become excited to learn, the ‘ah ha’ moment where they finally understand or when they tell me about an amazing grade they just received.

My role as a tutor is to facilitate learning in a safe, comfortable environment, whilst focusing on areas of weakness and improving exam technique, things often over looked in the classroom. I intend for students to take agency over their learning and therefore ensure that they are able to guide lessons to suit their needs at the time, as usually the student knows what they need to focus on better than anyone else. My assistance and guidance extends beyond the classroom as I am always happy to communicate with my students if they have urgent questions or would like feedback before our next lesson.

Thank you for taking the time to read a little bit about me and I am excited to hear from you about your study needs.

Yangda Bei


Hello! I am Yangda and I graduated from Cranbrook School with an ATAR of 99.55. I'm currently studying for an undergraduate research degree at the ANU in physics with minors in mathematics and computer science.

My approach to tutoring is to inspire students and cultivate the same passion that I have for teaching the subjects. As long as you love what you are learning, the marks will follow! With quite an interdisciplinary background, I will aim to put everything you are learning out of the context of an exam environment and into a broader perspective. Of course, I also have a lot of tips and tricks to maximise your marks as well! It's all about finding that sweet spot which is why each lesson will be tailored to your wants and needs.

I hope to not just be a tutor for your subjects but to be a mentor and help you achieve your goals in all aspects of life. Having been involved in a lot of extracurricular activities during my senior years in high school has taught me a lot about time management and maintaining healthy mental wellbeing. I strongly advocate for these things and will take a holistic mentoring approach to your studies which had made my high school experience very enjoyable.

Outside of my STEM studies, you'll find me jamming on the trombone and piano or cooking up a curry. Super keen to meet you all!

Charlotte Fullarton


Hi, I’m Charlie! I’m a student at the Australian National University doing a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in English.

I am passionate about getting to know my students and working closely with them to create carefully tailored lessons that target key concerns. This understanding of individual student needs allows me to effectively teach concepts, along with build confidence and organisational skills. 

As someone that has always engaged in extracurriculars throughout high school and continues to do so in university, I firmly believe that the key to achieving your goals is maintaining a healthy study/life balance. By teaching my carefully refined study skills and learning methods I will ensure that school does not seem too daunting and will help you to maintain high marks whilst leaving time for other activities. 

I enjoy working with students of all ages and have an understanding of what each year group focuses on in regards to Mathematics, English, and Legal Studies. I am also experienced in helping students to prepare for the Selective School Entry Exam. 

I’d love to get to know you and your learning needs in our free 30-minute study skills consultation :)

Trusted by families all over Australia 🇦🇺
Top performing Tutors
Students aced their studies
Lessons completed
Real results and verified reviews

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

Maddie M.
Year 11 Student

I got the top mark for my SAC which was really nice, and I think that’s all because of my tutor”

Medha / Year 12 Student

“It's been absolutely fantastic and it's just been a very positive environment for learning”

Amanda / Parent of a Year 7 Student

Manoj Arachige

CEO and Founder

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.

Free 30 minute Study Skills Assessment

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.

We're proud of our reviews.

It's hard to express just how much we care that you have a great experience with us. We invite you to look us up on Facebook, TrustPilot, Instagram and Google. There's plenty of amazing stories from our previous customers.
Click below to see all our reviews on posted on our Wall of Love ❤️

Rating of 4.9 stars
Our team can give you a call to create your perfect tutoring plan 🚀
Thank you!

We've received your request and will give you a call to find out exactly what you're looking for in your perfect tutor.

Hang in there, because soon you'll be organising your very first lesson🚀

Take a look through all our verified tutors

Let me see 👀
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form 😿