High School Survival Guides

Students and their parents need to be prepared for the academic year ahead if they want to see High School success. In the High School Survival Guides, we give you the knowledge to thrive, not just survive.

An overview of the High School Survival Guide

The High School Survival Guides are a resource to help students and their parents prepare for the school year ahead. Each High School Survival Guide provides detailed information about each year of High School so that parents and students have the information that will enable them to make the right decisions for the year ahead.

What’s explained in The High School Survival Guides?

In each High School Survival Guide, we present:

  • An explanation of the subjects students will undertake
  • An overview of the subject outcomes for English, Mathematics, and Science
  • Information about the NAPLAN assessments
  • An overview of the various assessments students will undertake through High School
  • Useful advice to help students achieve their academic goals

Who should read the High School Survival Guides?

The High School Survival Guides are written for parents and students to help them navigate the different challenges presented by each in Year in High School.

  • The Years 7 – 10 Guides are written for parents.
  • The Year 11 and Year 12 Guides are written for both students and parents.

Parents that are aware of the expectations of each year are able to help their children take more responsibility for their own learning.

While there is a lot of information involved, we recommend that students and parents take the time to read the complete High School journey.

Let’s begin by understanding the journey through High School.

The Stages of High School

High School includes Year 7 through to Year 12. The journey through school from Kindergarten to Year 12 is broken down into 6 Stages. It may seem like a long journey, but each year of High School is an important step in preparing students for the HSC and beyond

The term Stage refers to each block of learning and covers two years of school. Students begin High School in Year 7 and finish in Year 12. In High School, they study Stages 4 – 6.

See the flowchart below to understand the relationship between years and Stages.

High-School-Survival-Guides-High-School-Year-VS-Stage.

Flowchart: The Relationship Between High School Year and Stage

Each Stage includes:

  • Content – the skills and texts that students will be taught for each subject they undertake
  • Outcomes – the skills and knowledge that students should acquire while studying each subject

Breaking learning into Stages allows educators and parents to track the development of students as they progress through Primary and High School. Each Stage has a specific syllabus for the subjects available for study.

NESA provides a complete explanation of the various Stages and provides all of the content and outcomes on its website. You can access this information from this page on the NESA website.

Let’s have a quick look at each Stage of High School.

Stage 4

Stage 4 comprises the first two years of High School, Years 7 and 8. In Years 7 and 8, students will face an increased workload; a new structure for learning, and new subjects. Let’s see what this entails.

Subjects in Years 7 & 8

In Years 7 and 8, students experience a variety of the elective subjects. These are chosen by the school.

History and Geography are compulsory. Students are usually exposed to at least one language.

The subjects are drawn from the following subject areas (please note, the subject list below is not exhaustive):

Subject
Table: Elective and Compulsory Subjects
Compulsory Subjects
  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment)
    • Geography
    • History
    • Aboriginal Studies
    • (Commerce and Economics from Year 9)
  • PDH/PE
Elective Subjects

(Chosen by the School)

  • Languages
  • Creative Arts
  • Technologies
    • Agricultural Technology
    • Design & Technology
    • Food Technology
    • Graphics Technology
    • Industrial Technology
    • Information & Software
    • Technology
    • Marine & Aquaculture
    • Technology (CEC)
    • Textiles Technology

Key Milestones

The important milestones and achievements for Stage 4 are:

Table: The Important Milestones in Stage 4
Year Milestone
7
  • Start High School
  • Begin Stage 4
  • Year 7 NAPLAN Assessment
  • End of Year 7 exams
8
  • Complete Stage 4
  • End of Year 8 exams

Assessment in High School

  • School assessments – These are internal assessments done throughout the year that culminate in a set of end of year exams. The end of Year 8 exam marks should be used to indicate the appropriate subjects, and subject levels, for study in Year 9.
  • NAPLAN – The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is a series of tests that students sit every two years from Year 3 – Year 9 (Years 3, 5, 7, and 9).

If you would like to learn more about a specific Year, read the following Guide:

Stage 5

Stage 5 comprises Years 9 and 10. Stage 5 is a period of consolidation and trying out new subjects in preparation for subject specialisation in Stage 6. Let’s see what this involves.

Subjects in Years 9 & 10

In Years 9 and 10, students can refine which electives they wish to study.

In Year 9, students can select which language they wish to focus on. Similarly, students begin to specialise in the Technology or Creative Arts subjects they wish to study.

The subjects can be split into these categories (please note, the subject list below is not exhaustive):

Subject
Table: Elective and Compulsory Subjects
Compulsory Subjects
  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment)
    • Geography
    • History
    • Aboriginal Studies
    • (Commerce and Economics from Year 9)
  • PDH/PE
Elective Subjects
  • Languages
  • Creative Arts
    • Dance
    • Drama
    • Music 1
    • Music 2
    • HSC Music Extension
    • Visual Arts
  • Technologies
    • Agricultural Technology
    • Design & Technology
    • Food Technology
    • Graphics Technology
    • Industrial Technology
    • Information & Software
    • Technology
    • Marine & Aquaculture
    • Technology (CEC)
    • Textiles Technology

Key Milestones

The important milestones and achievements for Stage 5 are:

Table: The Important Milestones in Stage 5
Year Milestone
9
  • Begin Stage 5
  • Year 9 Naplan Assessment
  • End of Year 9 exams
10
  • Complete Stage 5
  • Pre-qualify for the HSC Minimum Standards
  • Select Stage 6 subjects for Year 11
  • End of Year 10 exams

Assessment in High School

  • School assessments – These are internal assessments done throughout the year that culminate in a set of end of year exams.
  • NAPLAN – The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is a series of tests that students sit every two years from Year 3 – Year 9 (Years 3,5,7, and 9).

If you would like to learn more about a specific Year, read the following Guide:

Stage 6

Stage 6 is the final two years of High School, Years 11 and 12. In Year 11 students begin the preliminary courses for the specialist subjects they have chosen. In Year 12 they move onto the advanced study of these subjects and then sit a range of assessments as part of their Higher School Certificate. Students will also apply for an ATAR for their university applications. Let’s take a closer look at this.

Subjects in Years 11 & 12

  • In Year 11, Students choose a minimum of 12 Units of subjects (a regular subject is 2 Units, extension subjects are an extra Unit)
  • In Year 12, Students choose a minimum of 10 Units to study for the HSC

In Stage 6, students choose their specialisations. There are a wide range of subjects available for students. While Mathematics is not compulsory, Mathematics 2 Unit is a prerequisite for many University courses.

English is the only compulsory subject. Students can draw their options from the following offerings (please note, the subject list below is not exhaustive):

Subject Option or Level
Compulsory Subject  English
  • EAL/D
  • Studies
  • Standard
  • Advanced
  • Extension 1
  • Extension 2
Elective Subjects Maths
  • Life Skills
  • Standard
  • 2 Unit
  • Extension 1
  • Extension 2
Languages There are a significant number of options available
Creative Arts
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Music 1
  • Music 2
  • HSC Music Extension
  • Visual Arts
HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Aboriginal Studies
  • Commerce and Economics
Sciences (choosing from:)
  • Life Skills
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
Technologies
  • Agricultural Technology
  • Design & Technology
  • Food Technology
  • Graphics Technology
  • Industrial Technology
  • Information & Software
  • Technology
  • Marine & Aquaculture
  • Technology (CEC)
  • Textiles Technology
PDHPE
Table: Elective and Compulsory Subjects

Key Milestones

The important milestones and achievements for Stage 6 are:

Table: The Important Milestones in Stage 6
Year Milestone
11
  • Begin Stage 6
  • Start the Preliminary HSC courses
  • End of Year 11 exams
12
  • HSC Assessments
  • HSC Trials
  • Apply for University Courses through (UAC)
  • HSC Exam
  • Apply for University Courses
  • Complete High School
  • Receive HSC Results
  • Receive University offers through UAC

Assessment in High School

  • School assessments – These are internal assessments done throughout the year that culminate in a set of end of year exams.
  • HSC – The Higher School Certificate (HSC) is the final assessment for students. Students that qualify for and sit the HSC will receive HSC marks for each subject they take – this will rank them against the peers in their state. HSC students can apply for an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). The ATAR is the score used by Universities to determine which University courses are suitable for students’ abilities.

If you would like to learn more about ATAR, read our Beginner’s Guide to ATAR & Scaling.

If you would like to learn more about a specific Year, read the following Guide:

Want to study smarter, not harder?

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