# Which Level of Maths Should I Choose for My HSC?

If you are currently in Year 10, chances are that you are in the process of choosing your subjects for Years 11 and 12. **Now that Maths is compulsory, you no longer have the option of removing Maths from your study altogether.** Instead, you must choose from one of six options:

- Mathematics Life Skills
- Mathematics Standard 1
- Mathematics Standard 2 (Year 12 only)
- Mathematics Advanced
- Mathematics Extension 1
- Mathematics Extension 2 (Year 12 only)

You can find detailed summaries of what each course involves here, but the general gist is as follows. Mathematics Advanced, Extension 1 and Extension 2 are heavily calculus-based. A substantial portion of these courses involve applying differential and integral calculus to numerous applications (e.g. probability and statistics). These courses provide a solid foundation in concepts required for future study in tertiary education which is why they are often prerequisites for courses at university (more on this later).

In contrast, Mathematics Life Skills, Standard 1 and Standard 2 are not calculus based. They are extensions of content that you have examined at a Junior Maths level such as Algebra, Measurement and Statistical Analysis.

So now that you gave a general idea of what each of the courses involve, you might be thinking: “Okay, that’s great, but should I go with more calculus-based courses or not?”

Well, here is a non-exhaustive list of things to bear in mind when making your decision.

**1. How much do you enjoy Maths?**

I will start by saying this: It is not the end of the world if Maths is not your favourite subject and you still want to (or need to) study it in Years 11 and 12. There are ways to work around this, but at least having an interest in Maths will definitely be of use to you should you wish to study the more complex calculus-based courses. If you do not enjoy Maths at all, you might want to gravitate towards a course with less complex material that won’t consume as much of your time and effort.

In sum, you should not feel compelled to study the more challenging Maths courses purely because that is what everyone else is doing. Another reason to stay away from these courses is if you are studying them purely because you have heard they will boost your ATAR. Studying Maths for these reasons alone makes the entire experience unenjoyable.

**2. Evaluate your personal strengths and weaknesses.**

Are you more of a “Maths person” or an “English person”? Or can you do both? Ultimately, these are questions that only you can answer. If you prefer English but you still enjoy the challenge of Maths, you might like to choose courses such as Maths Advanced. If you absolutely love Maths and you’re quite good at it, you might like to challenge yourself with Maths Extension 1 or Maths Extension 2. Or if you really are not a Maths person and love your humanities, then perhaps Maths Standard or Life Skills is for you.

**3. Let’s look at the level of Maths you studied in Years 9 & 10**

This is key and will actually help you make a decision in relation to point #2. Recall that Years 9 & 10 have three streams of Maths: 5.3, 5.2 and 5.1. Each stream is intended to prepare students for different levels of Maths. Generally-speaking, this operates as follows:

- 5.3 prepares students for Maths Advanced and Extension 1/2
- 5.2 prepares students for Maths Advanced or Maths Standard
- 5.1 prepares students for Maths Standard or Life Skills

So if you are taking 5.2 Maths, you might find Extension Maths a little difficult. This is not to say that it is impossible to study Extension Maths as a 5.2 student, but it is something that you should bear in mind.

You should also look at your marks in each subject. Use your marks as a guide for which course you should take. For example, if you are scoring 80+% in 5.2, you might want to consider challenging yourself with Maths Advanced. If you are scoring a little lower, then Maths Standard is probably the right course for you. Again, these guidelines are not determinative; they are just some examples of things you should bear in mind when coming to a decision.

**4. What are the prerequisites for your university courses?**

A number of university courses require Maths Advanced or even Maths Extension 1 as a prerequisite. Prerequisites can vary across Universities so it is vital that you do your research. Degrees in the STEM field will require Maths Advanced at the very least. Maths Advanced may also be required for business degrees such as Commerce and Economics.

You can find more information on course prerequisites in the undergraduate handbooks for each university. I’ve compiled a list of 2022’s undergraduate handbooks to get you started.

- The University of Sydney
- The University of New South Wales
- The University of Technology Sydney
- Western Sydney University

Now, you might be thinking: “I don’t know what I want to do at Uni. I’m only in Year 10 and I’d like to think about it for a few more years.”

This is perfectly fine. What I would then suggest is that you keep your options open. Not sure if you want to do anything Maths-related at Uni? That’s fine; maybe take Maths Advanced or even Extension 1 so you still have a plethora of courses (and universities) to choose from.

**Concluding Remarks**

So there you have it: Four things you should consider when choosing the right Maths course for Years 11 and 12. I’ll leave you with one additional point: You may be on the fence about which Maths course to pick in Year 10. One thing you could do is choose the hardest of those courses (e.g. Maths Advanced or Extension 1) and drop down to an easier course in Year 12. Take advantage of the flexibility offered to you.

Good luck!!