How many subject units should I take during the HSC?

As a requirement, the HSC requires us to undertake a minimum of 10 units to be eligible for an ATAR. But the question is, should you be taking exactly 10 units or should you take a couple extra units? This is a decision that stumps many students and the “right” number of units will differ between students. Here are some points to consider when deciding how many units to take:


Since your ATAR is calculated using your best 10 units of subjects, choosing 10 units exactly can be seen as “risky” if you happen to bomb an exam and hence, many students decide to take extra units as a “safety net” in case something doesn’t go to plan during an assessment. Often it is good to take on a couple extra units during the beginning of the year and then drop a subject later on in the year if you are finding the workload overwhelming or if you aren’t enjoying one subject as much as you thought. 


However, choosing to do 10 units will spare you a lot of time, which may make Year 12 a lot less stressful in terms of preparing for assessments – one less subject means less exams and assignments. For some students, doing 10 units is beneficial as it allows them to focus their time and energy on fewer subjects, developing a deep understanding of fewer subjects rather than having a general understanding of multiple subjects. 


Some students however may find it helpful to take on more than 10 units of subjects. Many of the HSC subjects tend to be interrelated such as Chemistry and Biology and by doing one subject that closely links to another, you are exposed to different perspectives of the same content. This provides a pathway to deepen your understanding and it provides the basis to writing stronger responses in the HSC exam. 


To conclude, the choice of how many units taken during the HSC is entirely the choice of the student. Each student will benefit from different patterns of study and there is no definite “right” or “wrong” when deciding how many subjects to take on during the HSC. 


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