How many units should you take into Year 12 for your HSC?

18 July 2023
Posted in HSC, Students
18 July 2023 Alchemy Tuition

It’s almost time to start with Year 12! That means that you have some very important decisions coming your way. One of these decisions is a question that emerges for many of us; how many units should I keep in Year 12?

In Year 11, you are required to take 12 preliminary units. This, however, changes to only 10 units in your HSC. It is always an option to do more than 10 units but the best 10 units will count towards your ATAR. So that’s where the important questions come in! How many units do I keep? Are extra units a good idea? Should I rather focus my energy on doing my best on just the minimum?


More Than 10 Units Provides a Fallback

When UAC calculates your ATAR from your HSC results, they will automatically take the ten best units (remembering, of course, that English must always count).

This can be an important factor to remember when making your decision because if you have more than 10 units, you have a bit of a security net to fall back on. If your marks in one of your subjects aren’t as strong as your others, it’s not the end of the world because they won’t be counted anyway.

However, if you are doing a subject that you don’t enjoy or that you’re doing notably poorly in then there’s no reason to continue doing that subject. There is no reason to keep Physics if you hate It and know you won’t put in the effort to do well in the subject.

Think of your extra unit(s) as an insurance policy. Just because you have insurance; on say, your car; doesn’t mean you are out trying to trash it. It’s there for emergencies. Just the same, your extra unit in the HSC is there if one of your subjects happens to mess you up a little. This can happen! A tough exam, a bit sick on the day of the HSC, a nasty essay question; it’s not outside the realms of possibility.

This actually has the additional benefit of being a bit of a stress reliever in your HSC, especially near the end of the road. Mentally, it can be a little more relaxing to know that you have the extra unit if you need it. You might not feel so anxious before a big exam.


More Than 10 Units Creates Extra Work

All of this said, there is an obvious counter-argument. How many units you choose will directly affect how much work you have to do in Year 12. As aforementioned, you don’t take an extra subject if you don’t intend to put your best into that subject. So, if you take extra units, be prepared to put in the extra work to maintain them.

How much extra work are we talking about? Well, this is the thing, it’s no extra work compared to your current study regime. Year 12 workload is, in many ways, pretty similar to what you experienced in Year 11. When considering how many units you’ll take, it is really important to consider how well you fared in Year 11. Ask yourself honest questions.

How effective was your time management? Did you consistently find that you were leaving assignments to the last minute, and so not completing them to the best of your ability? Were you (significantly) stressed?

If you believe that you handled Year 11 well, or that you know how to improve for Year 12, then keeping your units might seem more attractive. However, if you really struggled with 12 units in Year 11, then that is something important to consider when you decide how many units you’ll keep.


Should I Drop a Subject if My Marks Are Low?

That’s a complicated question with a really complicated answer.

Let’s be honest. If you are sitting in the 70s for all your subjects, but in the 30s for Economics, then that’s something you need to seriously look at. Why is the mark low? That’s important to figure out.

When Year 12 presents itself and you have the chance to drop units, you need to consider whether dropping these poor performers will be beneficial for you. But let’s get one thing straight:

Your performance will improve in Year 12 for all your subjects.

That is if you work hard.

Poor performance isn’t a reason to drop a subject by itself. However, it is something that should be considered with everything else. If you do decide to keep a subject that has significantly lower results than your others, be sure you have a plan in place to improve that result over the next 12 months. Communicate with your teachers (and get help from us)!


So, How many units should you take into Year 12 for your HSC? Depends on you!

The fact is, there is no magic number for how many units you should take. According to UAC, the vast majority of students did 10-12 units in 2015:

10 Units: 45.1% of students

11 Units: 18.2% of students

12 Units: 13.9% of students

So, while most students will choose 10 units, choosing more is very common as well. There is no relationship between the number of units you take and the ATAR you will receive. So, it becomes totally dependent on you and your position right now.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer – you need to do what makes sense for you!

But you know what else makes sense? Pairing up with an incredible tutor through your HSC! We have great HSC tutors available to support you one-on-one in all subjects, coming straight to your home or connecting with you online! With more than 5000 5-star reviews you will be happy you made the decision to get started with an Alchemy tutor!

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