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How important was year 11?

By Lauren Condon on 6 October 2017GeneralNSWblog

Welcome to year 12, team.

It might not be the end of the year but it’s the beginning of your HSC year and time to start asking the hard questions. Like, seriously, how much of year 11 really counted? Did the marks matter? Do we need to keep our notes? Did we screw ourselves over before even starting year 12?


Before you get really stuck into year 12, let’s wrap up year 11 by tackling some of these big questions.

1. Do my year 11 marks count?

Towards your ATAR? Nope. Not at all. Your ATAR is a combination of your marks from the HSC exams and your assessment marks from year 12 only. In saying that, you can’t just write off the whole prelim course for reasons that might just crop up in the rest of this post 👀 .

Also, if you think you might not finish your HSC and will want a RoSA (Record of School Achievement) then yeah, your year 10 and year 11 marks will be part of that.

2. Do I need to remember the content from year 11?

See, this is why you still have to care about year 11 even though your results won’t carry through to affect your HSC marks or ATAR. What will affect your year 12 marks are the fundamental ideas and skills that you learned in year 11. See, there’s this thing called ‘assumed knowledge’ which means that NESA expects students to have a basic understanding of everything in the prelim course (aka year 11). So even though it’s not going to be the majority of your HSC exams, it could crop up a bit. Make sure you’re across it!

There are some subjects out there like chem and maths where you wouldn’t be able to tackle the year 12 content if you didn’t have the formulas, definitions and understanding from year 11. If you did struggle a bit in some year 11 exams, it might be worth looking over that content again before you get stuck into year 12.

3. Do I keep all my notes from the preliminary course?

It’s a pretty good idea, to be honest. Considering that year 11 is ‘assumed knowledge’ for the HSC and that a lot of the year 12 course builds on the preliminary content, your notes are a great resource to have as a back up. And hey, it just gives you more notes to celebratorily get rid of once you finish the HSC 🔥 .

4. Should year 11 exams determine what subjects I should drop and pick up?

Mmm not really but there probably will be a bit of a connection naturally. See, if you’re sitting on 13 or 14 units at the end of year 11 and want to drop down, it makes sense that you would consider dropping the subjects that cause the most struggle and give you weaker marks. Your year 11 exams would just give you a bit of insight into which subjects were the hardest to study for and didn’t give you the pay off.

In terms of picking up subjects, the subjects you can pick up at the beginning of year 12 are usually extension subjects like Extension History and Extension II English. Your teachers would probably try to gently discourage you from picking these up if you bombed your year 11 History and English exams. At the same time, doing well in Extension English I or Modern History year 11 exams doesn’t mean you necessarily should pick up the extra extensions - it’s just a matter of doing your research and working out what's right for you.

5. Is year 12 content much more difficult than year 11?

To be completely honest, the really overwhelming and difficult part of year 12 tends to be the pressure and the intensity of the study that you might come up against. The difference between the difficulty of the actual content is going to vary between subjects.

In a subject like Extension I Mathematics - where the content builds upon previous topics and skills - then yeah, the content will be more difficult to learn and might feel a bit overwhelming. In other subjects like English, you could find the learning process quite similar but your teachers will expect higher standards from you. Either way, the bottom line is that no, year 12 content isn’t impossibly difficult and yes, it’s 100% manageable.

6. If I did well in year 11, should I just keep doing the same things for year 12?

Well first, congrats. It’s a great feeling to start year 12 on the right foot and know you don’t have to play catch up at all. The less exciting news is that even if you smashed year 11, you can’t be 100% confident and assume the same thing will happen in year 12.

You’re clearly on the right path already and probably have locked down some good learning habits and study habits. The most important thing to remember is just to not get too comfortable. That sounds a little intense but we’re only talking about things like keeping an eye on your ranks (a lot of other people will start to try harder in year 12) and talking with your teachers about the little ways you can improve. You basically just need to find that fine line between stepping up your work from year 11 to match the new standards in year 12 and not going so crazy that you burn out before Term 2.


Nothing you did in year 11 is going to stop you from smashing out a personal best in year 12. If you treated the prelim course pretty casually then you may need to work a little harder at the beginning of year 12 to catch up but we promise no irreparable damage was done. Just remember that year 12 is survivable and the hardest part is usually the pressure and not the content itself. Just start early, stay prepared, take care of yourself and you’ll be sweet 👍 .

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