How many units should you do in the HSC?

29 September 2015
29 September 2015 The Alchemy Team

If you are about to start your HSC year you will probably know that you have the freedom to drop a subject when the new year begins. This is because the Board of studies requires 12 units in year 11, but only 10 in year 12.

However they don’t enforce this – you are very welcome to take all 12 units through if you want, and they will only count the 10 units you do the best in.

Choosing what and even if to drop a subject is one worth considering. On one hand, you have fewer subjects to prepare for, more free periods and an opportunity to off-load that subject you hate. On the other, doing just 10 units means that every single assessment, exam and mark counts and you have no room for mistakes.

I’m going to outline the different arguments and wrap up with my recommendation – but of course, your situation might be very different, so be sure to think really hard about it before making any decisions.

Why drop a subject in year 12?

For me, the greatest reason to drop a subject is that it will give you more time to focus on your other subjects. For example, if you are struggling through Physics in year 11 and it takes you an average of 10 hours a week to stay on top (study, revision, assessments and exam preparation) – by dropping that subject you will free up an extra 2 hours each week to focus on your other subjects. That is an extra 100 hours over your HSC year that you can give to every other subject!

Another enticing reason is that you will gain a whole lot of free periods. This is ultimately a double edged sword as it is really easy to waste your free periods laughing with friends in your common room. If you use them wisely you can claim back even more time to focus on your other subjects.

Finally, if there is a subject you hate, you can cast it away like an old couch in a council cleanup. I dropped Visual Arts after year 11 and it was a glorious day, because I just did not like the subject. If there is a subject you really struggle with or really dislike, this is your opportunity to get rid of it.

Why hold on to all your subjects in year 12?

The main reason would be damage limitation. As mentioned, if you do 12 units in your HSC, they will only count your 10 best subjects. It gives you a bit of wiggle room, and if you don’t do too well in one subject you don’t have to worry about it.

Another reason might be that you are simply interested in or enjoy all your subjects – and I hear this one a lot. Some students really like all their subjects and they don’t want to get rid of any of them.

Many students think that they need to do certain subjects to do a specific University degree. Whilst they might be very helpful, any prerequisites can usually be bypassed by doing a short catch up course. For example, a lot of University degrees will work at the mathematics level – so naturally doing it in your HSC will be hugely helpful for later on. But if you don’t, your University will run a bridging course to get you on the right path.

So what do I recommend?

Drop it. Hands down. I’m sorry for being blunt, but take the hardest subject in year 11 – the one that took the most time and attention – and get out of there as soon as possible! As you begin your HSC you will realise that your assessments come in waves – you’ll have 3 or 4 weeks with nothing and then suddenly they will all hit at once. Why make things even harder by doing an extra subject that won’t even count at the end of it? In my opinion there is nothing to be gained from doing more than 10 units – you will take time away from other subjects to put towards something that won’t count.

That is just me – you need to decide what is best for you. Ultimately you have to do what you know you are capable of and what will give you the best result over all.Considering a tutor for your child? We can help! We have amazing tutors ready to go that will help your child grow in confidence, love the learning experience and ultimately realise what they are capable of. Learn more here and book their first lesson online today!

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