In this guide, we will explore why Year 11 is the most important year in high school, discuss the expectations of Stage 6 English, Mathematics, and Science, and explain how to use Year 11 to get ahead.
The Year 11 High School Survival Guide will show you how to navigate the Preliminary HSC. Year 11 is the penultimate year of a student’s journey through school. But what does Year 11 mean for students? Students begin the preliminary study of their subjects for the HSC in Year 11. A failure to understand key concepts or stay on top of the workload can have dire consequences for students in their HSC year.
In this guide, we will explore why Year 11 is the most important year in high school; discuss the expectations of Stage 6 English, Mathematics, and Science; and explain how to use Year 11 to get ahead.
What’s expected of students in Year 11
Students must prepare for the following changes when transitioning into Year 11:
Because Year 11 precedes the HSC, it is critical for students to stay on top of their subject material so they don’t fall behind.
Students and parents need to be aware that:
Year 11 students often struggle to get on top of things. This is because:
Year 11 students start receiving a significant amount of work from their various subjects. This means that students will need to do a significant amount of homework each night. Most students do at least 3 hours of study per day.
Conscientious students will do at least 3 hours study per evening.
This means that students will need to do between 15 and 18 hours of study each week! Students begin the preliminary study of their Stage 6 HSC subjects.
Before Year 11 begins, students need to make some very important choices about what subjects they will study. Parents and students need to be aware that:
Year 11 is the most important Year in High School! A poor academic performance in Year 11 can greatly handicap your opportunities in Year 12!
NESA refers to the learning journey of students as Stages. Years 11 and 12 are known as Stage 6. Each subject has a specific set of Stage 6 Outcomes that students are expected to meet.
For some subjects, Stage 6 is divided into Preliminary and HSC. The subjects will have specific Outcomes for each year. You can find more information about Stage 6 here on the NESA website.
To succeed in Years 11 and 12, students must have a thorough understanding of what their subjects involve and what the NESA outcomes are.
Let’s have a look at the requirements for English, Maths, and Science.
The Year 11 and 12 English courses are divided up into:
Only certain students can take English Studies or EAL/D. Students who feel they should take this course must speak to their teacher and Year coordinator.
A minimum standard of Band 5 in English Advanced or Standard is becoming a common prerequisite for some university degrees. The percentage of students who achieved Band 5 or 6 in 2016 can be seen in the following table:
Table: comparing Standard and Advanced results | ||
English Advanced | English Standard | |
Percentage of Students Receiving Band 6 | 15.41% | 0.85% |
Percentage of Students Receiving Band 5 | 46.59% | 12.62% |
In 2016, 62% of English Advanced students received a Band 5 or higher, but only 13.47% of English Standard students achieved above a Band 5.
It is important that students take the appropriate level of English for their abilities and the requirements of their desired university courses. More information about the differences between English Advanced vs English Standard vs English Studies can be found here.
Year 11 English is divided into three Modules for English Advanced, English Standard and English Studies.
Let’s see what is involved in Year 11 English:
Table: Comparison of English Courses | ||||
English Advanced | English Standard | English Studies | EAL/D | |
Common Module | Reading to Write | Reading to Write | Reading to Write | Optional teacher-developed module |
Module A | Narratives that Shaped the World | Contemporary possibilities | Chosen from a list of 14 electives | Language and Texts in Context |
Module B | Critical Study of Literature | Close Study of literature | Chosen from a list of 14 electives | Close Study of Text |
Module C | No Module C | No Module C | No Module C | Texts and Society |
Year 11 students need to be aware that:
The new Stage 6 English syllabus starts in 2018. The Year 11 English Advanced course is intended for students who have demonstrated good competence in English throughout Stage 5.
In Year 12, English Advanced students need to satisfy the following outcomes in order to obtain a HSC mark in Band 5 or 6. Note that 15.41% of English Advanced students received band 6 compared to 0.85% of English Standard students. It is important that Year 11 students familiarise themselves with Stage 6 learning outcomes so that they are better prepared to achieve Band 5 or 6 results in Year 12.
The learning outcomes are:
Table: Stage 6 English Advanced Outcomes (Source: NESA Website) | |
Year 11 English Advanced | |
Outcome 1 | responds to, composes and evaluates complex texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure |
Outcome 2 | uses and evaluates processes, skills and knowledge required to effectively respond to and compose texts in different modes, media and technologies |
Outcome 3 | analyses and uses language forms, features and structures of texts considering appropriateness for specific purposes, audiences and contexts and evaluates their effects on meaning |
Outcome 4 | strategically uses knowledge, skills and understanding of language concepts and literary devices in new and different contexts |
Outcome 5 | thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically to respond to, evaluate and compose texts that synthesise complex information, ideas and arguments |
Outcome 6 | investigates and evaluates the relationships between texts |
Outcome 7 | evaluates the diverse ways texts can represent personal and public worlds and recognises how they are valued |
Outcome 8 | explains and evaluates cultural assumptions and values in texts and their effects on meaning |
Outcome 9 | reflects on, evaluates and monitors own learning and adjusts individual and collaborative processes to develop as an independent learner |
To achieve Band 6, students need to demonstrate extensive knowledge of their texts and write insightful responses that demonstrate their insight into those texts. The best way for students to perform well in Year 11 English is to understand how their texts reflect the concerns of the module and write responses that demonstrate an understanding of the English Advanced Year 11 course outcomes.
Matrix Year 11 English Advanced Theory Books teach students how to address the outcomes for Stage 6, the Band 6 descriptors, and the specific Module requirements. Students who strive to address the Stage Outcomes and Band Descriptors always perform better than their peers.
The Matrix Year 11 English Advanced timetable is below:
Table: Matrix Year 11 English Advanced Program | |
2018 Year 11 English Advanced | |
Oct – Dec | Reading to Write |
Feb – Apr | Module A: Textual Conversations |
Apr – Jun | Module B: Critical Study |
Jul – Sep | Module C: The Art of Writing |
Year 11 students at Matrix gain an extensive knowledge and understanding of the key concepts of preliminary English through its structured 9 lesson courses. If you want help getting started with Stage 6 English, you should read our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English!
The Year 11 and 12 Mathematics Advanced course is intended for students who have demonstrated general competence in all the skills in the Year 10 Mathematics Advanced Course.
Students who require substantial Mathematics at a tertiary level supporting the Physical Sciences, Computer Science, or Engineering should undertake the Extension 1 or Extension 2 course.
The content and depth of treatment of the Mathematics Advanced course is intended to give students an understanding of and competence in some further aspects of Mathematics which are applicable to the real world.
The Year 11 and 12 Mathematics Advanced topics are listed below:
Table: Mathematics Advanced Stage 6 Syllabus | |
Year 11 Maths Advanced | Year 12 Maths Advanced |
Basic arithmetic and algebra (1.1 – 1.4) | Coordinate methods in geometry (6.8) |
Real functions (4.1 – 4.4) | Applications of geometrical properties (2.5) |
Trigonometric ratios (5.1 – 5.5) | Geometrical applications of differentiation (10.1-10.8) |
Linear functions (6.1-6.5, 6.7) | Integration (11.1 – 11.4) |
The quadratic polynomial and the parabola (9.1 – 9.5) | Trigonometric functions (including applications of trigonometric ratios) (13.1 – 13.6, 13.7) |
Plane geometry (2.1 – 2.4) | Logarithmic and exponential functions (12.1 – 12.5) |
Tangent to a curve and derivative of a function (8.1 – 8.9) | Applications of calculus to the physical world (14.1 – 14.3) |
Probability (3.1 – 3.3) | |
Series (7.1 – 7.3) and Series applications (7.5) |
The new Stage 6 Mathematics syllabus starts in 2019, not in 2018. This means that the 2017 Year 10 students will study the current Stage 6 Mathematics syllabus in 2018.
The Year 11 & 12 Mathematics Extension 1 course is intended for students who have demonstrated a mastery of the skills in the Year 10 Mathematics Advanced course.
The content of the Mathematics Extension 1 course includes the whole of the Mathematics Advanced (2 unit) course. Therefore students sit two HSC exams for this course:
For this reason, the Year 12 Mathematics Advanced course is assigned 2 units of HSC marks and the Year 12 Mathematics Extension 1 course is assigned 1 unit of HSC marks. Hence the total number of units for this course is 3 units.
The Year 11 and 12 Mathematics Extension 1 topics are listed below:
Year 11 Maths Extension 1 |
Year 12 Maths Extension 1 |
Table: Mathematics Extension 1 Syllabus | |
Other inequalities (1.4E) | Method of integration (11.5) |
Circle geometry (2.6 – 2.10) | Primitive of sin(2x) and cos(2x) (13.6E) |
Further trigonometry (5.6 – 5.9) | Exponential growth and decay equation (14.2E) |
Angles between two lines (6.6) | Velocity and acceleration as a function of ‘x’ (14.3E) |
Internal and external division of lines into given ratios (6.7E) | Projectile motion (14.3E) |
Parametric representation (9.6) | Simple harmonic motion (14.4) |
Permutations and combinations (18.1) | Inverse functions and inverse trigonometric functions (15.1 – 15.5) |
Polynomials (16.1 – 16.3) | Induction (7.4) |
Harder applications of the Preliminary 2 Unit course | Binomial theorem (17.1 – 17.3) |
Further probability (18.2) | |
Iterative methods for estimating roots (16.4) | |
Harder applications of HSC 2 Unit topics |
At Matrix, students gain extensive knowledge and skills of all the topics indicated in the syllabus. The Matrix Year 11 Mathematics Advanced and Extension 1 course programs are shown below:
Table: Matrix Year 11 Mathematics Program | ||
Period | Year 11 Maths Advanced | Year 11 Maths Extension 1 |
Sep- Dec | Basic Arithmetic and Algebra Absolute Values Linear Functions |
Linear Functions Non-Linear Curves Absolute Values and Inequalities Quadratic Polynomial |
Jan – Apr | Functions and Relations Trigonometric Ratios |
Trigonometric ratios Locus Limits of the Derivative |
Apr – Jun | Plane geometry The Quadratic Polynomial Locus and Parabola |
Polynomials Geometrical Applications of Differentiation Parametric Representation |
Jul – Sep | Introductory Calculus Probability Revision of Preliminary Topics |
Sequences and Series Circle Geometry Integration Volumes |
Year 11 students at Matrix gain an extensive knowledge and understanding of the key concepts of preliminary mathematics through its structured 9 lesson courses.
Students can choose to undertake:
The new Stage 6 Science syllabus starts in 2018. These science courses build upon the Year 10 sciences course.
The Year 11 Science course structure is outlined in the table below:
Table: Year 11 Science Program | |||
Year 11 Biology | Year 11 Chemistry | Year 11 Physics | |
Skills | Working scientifically | Working scientifically | Working scientifically |
Module 1 | Cells as the Basis of Life | Properties and Structure of Matter | Kinematics |
Module 2 | Organisation of Living Things | Introduction to Quantitative Chemistry | Dynamics |
Module 3 | Biological Diversity | Reactive Chemistry | Waves and Thermodynamics |
Module 4 | Ecosystem Dyanmics | Drivers of Reactions | Electricity and Magnetism |
In the Year 11 Biology course, students develop knowledge and understanding of:
In the Year 11 Chemistry course, students develop knowledge and understanding of:
In the Year 11 Physics course, students develop knowledge and understanding of:
Year 11 students at Matrix gain an extensive knowledge and understanding of the key concepts through its structured courses. Students can choose to undertake:
The Matrix Year 11 Science Course Programs are tabulated below:
Table: Matrix Year 11 Science Program | |||
Period | Year 11 Biology | Year 11 Chemistry | Year 11 Physics |
Sep- Dec | Cells as the Basis of Life | Properties and Structure of Matter | Kinematics |
Jan – Apr | Organisation of Living Things | Introduction to Quantitative Chemistry | Dynamics |
Apr – Jun | Biological Diversity | Reactive Chemistry | Waves and Thermodynamics |
Jul – Sep | Ecosystem Dynamics | Drivers of Reactions | Electricity and Magnetism |
Every year, a large number of Year 11 & 12 students ask the question “How did that student get such a high ATAR?” When we analysed the hundreds of academically successful Matrix graduates, we noticed they had a few things in common.
Let’s look at what they are:
Successful students have an explicit understanding of what’s required to attain a Band 6 performance. This requires students to have a clear understanding of the syllabus requirements and the Band 6 performance band descriptor for their subjects.
You can view the syllabuses here:
Band 6 and Band E4 Performance Descriptors are outlined below. Band 6 is the highest Band for a 2 Unit course (90 – 100 marks), and Band E4 (45 – 50 marks or 90 – 100 marks) is the highest Band for an Extension 1 and 2 courses such as English Extension 1 and 2, or Mathematics Extension 1 and 2. For the full list of band descriptors, visit the NESA website
English Advanced (15.41%)
In 2016 HSC, 15.41% of the Year 12 English Advanced students attained Band 6.
English Standard (0.85%)
In 2016 HSC, 0.85% of the Year 12 English Standard students attained Band 6.
Mathematics Advanced (23.2%)
In 2016 HSC, 23.2% of the Year 12 Mathematics Advanced students attained Band 6.
Mathematics Extension 1 (33.12%)
In 2016 HSC, 33.012% of the Year 12 Mathematics Extension 1 students attained Band E4.
Mathematics Extension 2 (32.05%)
In 2016 HSC, 32.05% of the Year 12 Mathematics Extension 2 students attained Band E4.
Biology Band 6 Performance Descriptor
In 2016 HSC, 8.76% of the Year 12 Biology students attained Band 6.
Chemistry Band 6 Performance Descriptor
In 2016 HSC, 9.7% of the Year 12 Chemistry students attained Band 6.
Physics Band 6 Performance Descriptor
In 2016 HSC, 8.37% of the Year 12 Physics students attained Band 6.
They always start with the end in mind. Year 11 students should have an ATAR goal and a university course that they are working towards.
The student shown in the picture below set an ATAR goal of 99 at the beginning of Year 12. She displayed her ATAR goal on her desk as a daily reminder and to help her maintain motivated.
At the end of Year 12, she attained an ATAR of 98.95! Although she didn’t achieve her exact ATAR, she says “Without a clear goal in mind, I probably wouldn’t have been as determined. I think I would have gotten a lower ATAR”.
Read the blog post on ‘How to set goals to enter your university course of choice.’
They always get things done on time. Every time. By consistently completing their tasks by the due date, these students gain an advantage over their peers. We find that whilst discipline is a hurdle for many students, Matrix students make it a priority in order to achieve their best results.
If you lack motivation and determination, watch Sally Kim share her story of success.
Successful students are very self-conscious about how they spend their time. They don’t like wasting time and they dislike others who waste their time. Here are four things that they practise to manage their time effectively.
Step 1: They create a Daily To-Do-List using a journal.
Image: Sample Student To-Do List
Step 2: They prioritise the tasks based on importance and urgency.
Step 3: They get ahead of school during the school holidays.
All the past successful students have used their school holidays for advanced completion of content through Matrix Holiday Accelerated Course. This creates blocks of time that students can use for sharpening their skills through exam paper practice.
For example, a student studying Year 12 Chemistry and Year 12 Maths Extension 1 courses would have dedicated 6 hours of study each day for 9 days. This equates to 54 hours of additional study whilst others are doing very little. It also means that the student has saved 54 hours of study during the term.
Step 4: They establish a weekly rhythm to get ahead with exam preparation.
For a more detailed explanation on managing time effectively, read this blog post on ‘How to create a study plan that works.’
NESA mandates that schools must provide students with assessment schedules and notifications in advance.
Assessment schedules are documents that outline when you should have an assessment for a given subject. They will include important information such as:
Assessment notifications are documents that provide important information about how to prepare for the assessment. For each task, students will be presented with an assessment notification.
These must be given to students at least two weeks prior to the assessment. They must contain:
To do well in their assessments, students should pay careful attention to their assessment notifications. In particular, students should make an effort to understand the marking criteria, which will clarify what the markers will be expecting from them.
Below is an example of the first page of Year 11 Physics Assessment Notification. View the sample Y11 Physics Assessment Task.
To do well in their assessments, students should pay careful attention to their assessment notifications. In particular, students should make an effort to understand the marking criteria, which will clarify what the markers will be expecting from them.
Sample marking criteria and assessment notifications and schedules can be found on the NESA website. Click the link below to download:
We hope this blog and the links provided are a useful resource in helping to prepare you for what’s to come in Year 11, and in achieving your academic ambitions.
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