In this Guide, we give you the rundown of what to expect in Year 12 and step-by-step advice about how to get ahead from your first day.
In this Year 12 High School Survival Guide, we will discuss the expectations of Year 12 and strategies to making it your most successful year yet! Year 12, as your HSC year, is the most important year of high school.
Though students often focus their worry on the examinations at the end of the year, there’s more to an HSC mark than just exams. In Year 12, every school assessment mark counts, and in fact 50% of the final HSC mark for each subject is taken from a student’s assessment mark. For this reason, you are under an enormous amount of pressure through the entirety of Year 12, not just during their exam period.
Let’s look at Year 12 and the ways you can maximise your results.
What’s expected of students in Year 12
You must prepare for the following changes when transitioning into Year 12:
Common issues amongst Year 12 students
Let’s have a look at some common issues that you may face in year 12,
In order to achieve their best possible outcome, students need to think very hard about what subjects are right for them. This may well involve dropping subjects that students are not performing very well in. This allows students to invest more time in each subject and increase their chance of success in those subjects.
There are some important things to be aware of when making these decisions:
To succeed in Year 12 subjects, students need to 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 12 English courses are divided up into:
From 2019, some of these courses differ substantially from one another and need some explanation.
The 2 Unit English courses do not all meet the requirements for receiving an ATAR.
English Standard, English Advanced, and EAL/D are all eligible for an ATAR.
English Studies and English Life Skills are units that UAC classes as category B subjects and ineligible for consideration for an ATAR. As you must have 2 units of Category A English to receive an ATAR, studying these subjects will mean that you must find an alternative pathway to university. Students doing English Studies can choose to sit the HSC exam and receive an HSC mark, but will not an ATAR. At this stage, it is unclear if English Life Skills students will be able to sit the HSC for English.
The English Extension Courses require a significant investment of your time and effort. This effort is rewarded if you do well in these courses as they scale well. However, your teachers will offer you the opportunity to take these courses if they feel you are capable of succeeding in them. (Matrix does not offer English Extension courses but enrolled students can get assistance and feedback on English Extension work from their Matrix teachers and our Expert Tutors during workshops).
Only certain students can take ESL. 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 common for some university degrees. The percentage of students who achieved Band 5 or 6 in 2016 can be seen in the following table:
|English Advanced||English Standard|
|Table: Comparison of 2016 English Advanced and English Standard HSC Results|
|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 course. It is also important for students and parents to understand the different rates of success common to each English course, and make informed decisions about chances for success. More information about choosing between English Advanced and English Standard can be found here.
2 Unit English is divided into four Modules for the HSC. Let’s see what is involved in for the different English Courses from 2019:
|Table: English Courses and Modules for Year 12|
|Common Module||Module A||Module B||Module C|
|English Advanced||Text and Human Experiences||Textual Conversations||Close Study of Literature||The Craft of Writing|
|English Standard||Text and Human Experiences||Language Identity and Culture||Close Study of Literature||The Craft of Writing|
|EAL/D||Text and Human Experiences||Language Identity and Culture||Close Study of Text||Focus on Writing|
|English Studies||Text and Human Experiences||Teachers can choose from 14 Modules||Teachers can choose from 14 Modules||Teachers can choose from 14 Modules|
|English Life Skills||Teachers can choose which Modules they teach from all of the 2 Unit courses on offer||Teachers can choose which Modules they teach from all of the 2 Unit courses on offer||Teachers can choose which Modules they teach from all of the 2 Unit courses on offer||Teachers can choose which Modules they teach from all of the 2 Unit courses on offer|
The English Studies and English Life Skills courses have modules that are chosen by your teacher.
English Standard, English Advanced, EAL/D, and the Common Module for English Studies all have a list of prescribed texts. For some modules, students will need to select their own supplementary texts from a variety of different mediums.
Each one of these modules and electives has a different set of requirements and addresses different Stage 6 outcomes. It is important that you read the NESA documentation around this. Detailed information can be found in the 2019-2023 English prescriptions document.
If you would like a detailed breakdown of the English Advanced Modules for Year 12, read Part 12 of our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English.
The Year 12 English Advanced course is intended for students who have demonstrated good competence in English throughout Year 10 and 11.
Year 12 English Advanced students need to satisfy the following outcomes in order to obtain an 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.
|Table: NESA (formerly BOSTES) Stage 6 Outcomes (Source: NESA Website)|
|Year 12 English Advanced|
|Objective A: communicate through speaking, listening, reading, writing, viewing and representing|
|Outcome EA12-1||A student independently responds to, composes and evaluates a range of complex texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure|
|Outcome EA12-2||A student uses, evaluates and justifies processes, skills and knowledge required to effectively respond to and compose texts in different modes, media and technologies|
|Objective B: use language to shape and make meaning according to purpose, audience and context|
|Outcome EA12-3||A student critically analyses and uses language forms, features and structures of texts justifying appropriateness for specific purposes, audiences and contexts and evaluates their effects on meaning|
|Outcome EA12-4||A student strategically adapts and applies knowledge, skills and understanding of language concepts and literary devices in new and different contexts|
|Objective C: think in ways that are imaginative, creative, interpretive and critical|
|Outcome EA12-5||A student thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively, critically and discerningly to respond to, evaluate and compose texts that synthesise complex information, ideas and arguments|
|Outcome EA12-6||A student investigates and evaluates the relationships between texts|
|Objective D: express themselves and their relationships with others and their world|
|Outcome EA12-7||A student evaluates the diverse ways texts can represent personal and public worlds and recognises how they are valued|
|Outcome EA12-8||A student explains and evaluates nuanced cultural assumptions and values in texts and their effects on meaning|
|Objective E: learn and reflect on their learning through their study of English|
|Outcome EA12-9||A student reflects on, evaluates and monitors own learning and refines individual and collaborative processes as an independent learner.|
To achieve a Band 6 result, you need to demonstrate extensive knowledge of their texts and write insightful responses that demonstrate your understanding of those texts.
Matrix Year 12 English Advanced Theory Books teach you how to address the outcomes for Stage 6, the Band 6 descriptors, and the specific Module requirements. Students who strive to address the outcomes and Band Descriptors always perform better than their peers.
The Matrix Year 12 English Advanced timetable is below:
|Table: Matrix Year 12 English Advanced Program|
|Year 12 English Advanced|
|Oct – Dec||Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences|
Short Answer Skills, The Common Module Essay, Decoding the Syllabus, School Assessment Preparation, Writing Workshop for School Assessment, Practice Paper One and Peer Feedback
|Feb – Apr||Module A: Textual Conversations|
Richard III / Looking for Richard
Mrs Dalloway / The Hours
The Tempest / Hag-Seed
Sylvia Plath / Ted Hughes
|Apr – Jun||Module B: Critical Study of Literature|
The Poetry of T.S. Eliot
King Henry IV, Part 1
|July Holidays||Year 12 HSC Trial Exam Preparation Course|
Revision of all Modules, Essay Writing, Unseen Skills, Practice Paper 1
|Jul – Sep||Year 12 HSC Exam Preparation|
Revision of all Modules, Essay Writing, Unseen Skills, Practice Paper 1 and 2, Feedback
|Sept-Oct Holidays||Year 12 HSC Trial Exam Preparation Course|
Revision of all Modules, Essay Writing, Unseen Skills, Practice Paper 1
During the Term Courses, Year 12 students at Matrix gain an extensive knowledge and understanding of the key concepts and essay structure in the English subjects over 9 3-hour lessons. During the Holiday Courses, Students study each course intensively over 6 3-hour lessons.
If you are unsure of where to start with your study of English, read our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English!
Year 12 is the last chance for developing your English skills before the HSC. If you need help, read our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English!
The Year 11 and 12 Mathematics Advanced courses are intended for students who have demonstrated general competence in all the skills in 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.
Year 11 and 12 Mathematics Advanced topics are listed below:
|Table: Stage 6 Mathematics Advanced Syllabus|
|Year 11 Mathematics Advanced||Year 12 Mathematics Advanced|
|MA-F1 Working with Functions||MA-F2 Graphing Techniques|
|MA-T1 Trigonometry and Measure of Angles|
MA-T2 Trigonometric Functions and Identities
|MA-T3 Trigonometric Functions and Graphs|
|MA-C1 Introduction to Differentiation||MA-C2 Differential Calculus|
MA-C3 Applications of Differentiation
MA-C4 Integral Calculus
|MA-E1 Logarithms and Exponentials||Modelling Financial Situations|
|MA-S1 Probability and Discrete Probability Distributions||MA-S2 Descriptive Statistics and Bivariate Data Analysis|
MA-S3 Random Variables
The Year 12 Mathematics Extension 1 course is intended for students who have demonstrated a high level of competency in the Year 11 Mathematics Extension 1 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.
Year 11 and 12 Mathematics Extension 1 topics are listed below:
|Table: Mathematics Extension 1 Syllabus|
Year 11 Maths Extension 1
Year 12 Maths Extension 1
|ME-F1 Further Work with Functions||ME-P1 Proof by Mathematical Induction|
|ME-F1 Further Work with Functions|
|ME-V1 Introduction to Vectors|
|ME-T1 Inverse Trigonometric Functions|
ME-T2 Further Trigonometric Identities
|ME-T3 Trigonometric Equations|
|ME-C1 Rates of Change||ME-C2 Further Calculus Skills|
ME-C3 Applications of Calculus
|ME-A1 Working with Combinatorics||ME-S1 The Binomial Distribution|
The Year 12 Mathematics Extension 2 course is designed for students with a special interest in mathematics who have:
The content of the Mathematics Extension 2 course includes the whole of the Mathematics Extension 1 course. Therefore the students sit two HSC exams:
For this reason, Year 12 Mathematics Extension 1 and 2 are assigned 2 units of HSC marks each resulting in a total of 4 units of HSC marks.
There are 5 topics (and 7 sub-topics) in the Year 12 Mathematics Extension 2 course:
At Matrix, students are taught to gain extensive knowledge and skills of all the topics indicated in the syllabus.
The Matrix Year 12 Mathematics course programs are shown below :
|Table: Matrix Year 12 Mathematics Program|
|Period||Year 12 Maths Advanced||Year 12 Maths Extension 1||Year 12 Maths Extension 2|
|Sep- Dec||Significance of First and Second Derivatives|
Applications of Differentiation
Revision of Differentiation
|Introduction to Complex Numbers|
Using Complex Numbers
The Nature of Proof
Proofs in Number Theory
|Jan – Apr||Calculus of Trigonometric Functions|
Bivariate Data Analysis
Continuous Random Variables and Normal Distributions
|Further Trigonometric Equations|
Calculus of Trigonometric
Calculus of Inverse Trigonometric Functions
Methods of Integration
|Proofs Involving Inequalities|
Further Proofs by Mathematical Induction
Further Works with Vectors
|Apr – Jun||Arithmetic Progressions|
Modelling Investment and Loans
Financial Applications of Aps and GPs
Arithmetic and Geometric Progression
Simple Harmonic Motion
Projectiles with Resisted Motion
|Jul – Sep||HSC Exam Booster|
Revision of Preliminary Topics
Revision of Calculus
Revision of Trigonometric Functions
Revision of Statistics
|Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions|
HSC Mark Booster
|HSC Exam Booster|
Trial Examination Revision
Tackling Questions 15 & 16
HSC Examination Preparation
Year 12 students at Matrix gain extensive knowledge and understanding of the key concepts in the Mathematics subjects through structured 9 lesson courses.
The Year 12 science courses build upon the Year 11 science courses. Students who have failed to gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of the key concepts will find the Year 12 sciences courses challenging.
The Year 12 science courses incorporate the study of 4 modules which build upon the 4 Year 11 modules (they cover modules 5-8 of the Stage 6 syllabus, after modules 1-4 are covered in Year 11).
The modules are outlined in the table below:
|Table: Stage 6 Science Syllabus|
|Year 12 Biology||Year 12 Chemistry||Year 12 Physics|
|Skills||Working scientifically||Working scientifically||Working scientifically|
|Module 5||Heredity||Equilibrium and Acid Reactions||Advanced Mechanics|
|Module 6||Genetic Change||Acid/Base Reactions||Electromagnetism|
|Module 7||Infectious Disease||Organic Chemistry||The Nature of Light|
|Module 8||Non-infectious Disease and Disorders||Applying Chemical Ideas||From the Universe to the Atom|
Year 12 students at Matrix gain an extensive knowledge and understanding of the key concepts in the science subjects through structured 9 lesson courses.
Students can choose to undertake:
The Matrix Year 12 Science Course Programs are tabulated below:
|Table: Matrix Year 12 Science Program|
|Period||Year 12 Biology||Year 12 Chemistry||Year 12 Physics|
|Sep- Dec||Heredity||Equilibrium and Acid Reactions||Advanced Mechanics|
|Jan – Apr||Genetic Change||Acid/Base Reactions||Electromagnetism|
|Apr – Jun||Infectious Disease||Organic Chemistry||The Nature of Light|
|Jul – Sep||Non-infectious Disease and Disorders||Applying Chemical Ideas||From the Universe to the Atom|
Every year, a large number of Year 12 students ask the question “How did they get such a high ATAR?” When we analysed hundreds of academically successful students that have graduated from Matrix, they appear to have a few things in common.
Let’s see what they are.
They have an explicit understanding of what’s required to attain a Band 6 performance. This means students have a clear understanding of the syllabus and the band 6 performance band descriptor.
You can view the syllabus here:
Band 6 and Band E4 Performance Descriptors are outlined below. Band 6 indicates the highest level of performance (90 -100 marks) for a 2 unit course and Band E4 (45 – 50 marks or 90 – 100 marks) indicates the highest performance band an Extension 1 and 2 course 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 12 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.
Image: Sample Student To-Do List
Image: How to prioritise
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.
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. A sample Year 12 Physics assessment task notification is shown below.
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.
Sample marking criteria and assessment notifications and schedules can be found on the NESA website. Click the link below to download.
We hope this guide and the links provided are a useful resource in preparing you for what’s to come in Year 12, and in achieving your academic ambitions.
Want to maximise your ATAR?
Our ATAR and scaling Guide provides you with all the insights you need to optimise your ATAR. Learn more.
© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2020. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.