What To Consider When Choosing Your HSC Subjects To Maximise Your ATAR

In the journey from high school to university, making strategic choices can make all the difference. There are many paths you could go down, and this can make the HSC even more daunting than it already is. By carefully considering your interests, strengths, and future aspirations, you can chart a course that not only maximises your academic potential but also aligns with your long-term goals. Let’s delve into the intricacies of choosing your HSC subjects wisely, offering insights and guidance to help you navigate this crucial decision-making process with confidence and clarity.

Not All Subjects Are Created Equal

Different scaling is applied to different HSC subjects, so your ATAR will be affected by your subject selection. In order to maximise your ATAR, you should be acutely aware of how each of your subjects scales and adjust your study accordingly. Most students intuitively know that easier subjects tend to scale downwards, while harder STEM subjects like Mathematics Extension 1 & 2 tend to scale up. The subjects that usually get scaled higher are: 

A great example of this was provided by the (University Admissions Centre (UAC) below:

As you can see, although James and Amy got similar marks in their HSC, their ATAR is vastly different, but so is their subject selection. Amy has chosen subjects that are scaled higher whilst James has chosen subjects that are scaled lower. One can only conclude from this is to maximise your HSC marks, it is best to study mathematics and science subjects as you would have to work harder to get the same marks if you chose predominantly humanities subjects.

How Adjustment Factors Can Boost Your HSC Marks

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Adjustment Factors (previously called Bonus Points) are extra points that tertiary institutions, not just universities, give to a student’s ATAR to boost their selection ranking in applying to a university course. However it is important to note that they do not add to your overall ATAR points, but they instead do change your rank for a particular course. The most common type that is applied is often the HSC Subject based bonus points. But luckily, most universities offer bonus points including USYD, UNSW, UTS, Macquarie Uni, UoW, WSU, ACU and UoN. 

How HSC Adjustment Factors Work

Bonus points are awarded for various things, but are usually rewarded for performing well in the HSC, but there are cut offs for this. The cut offs are usually the lowest ranking, including any bonus points into a particular course. 

Let’s say, for example, Medicine has 5 applicants and only 3 places available: 

  1. 99 (ATAR Of 99)
  2. 97 ATAR (ATAR of 96 plus one bonus point)
  3. 96 ATAR (ATAR of 94 plus 2 bonus points)
  4. 95 ATAR (ATAR of 95)
  5. 94 (ATAR of 94)

Offers will be made to the top 3 offers due to their bonus points, whilst the bottom two will not receive offers due to their ATAR being below 95. The higher band you are in for your subject, the more bonus points you’ll get, as illustrated below: 

Civil Engineering University Course

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Medical Science University Course

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Computer Engineering University Course

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A relevant detail in these bonus point selection is that only certain subjects apply to these courses. Most of these subjects include Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics. Bonus points for more humanities based courses don’t exist, meaning if you wish to study something in the STEM field, to maximise your marks you should choose STEM subjects for the HSC.

How ACE HSC Can Help You Maximise Your HSC Marks 

As we’ve established, the best way to maximise your HSC marks is by choosing STEM subjects as they are favoured when it comes to scaling and can offer you more Adjustment Factors for university entry. But, ACE HSC courses can also help you maximise your marks in plenty of ways. Our Year 10 Science course is meticulously designed to serve as an invaluable tool in guiding students towards making informed decisions for their Year 11 and 12 subject selections. Beyond merely covering the essential areas outlined in the Stage 5 Syllabus, our course extends its scope by placing a significant emphasis on equipping students for the challenges they’ll face in their subsequent years of study.

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We recognise that the transition to Years 11 and 12 can be daunting, especially when it comes to selecting the right subjects. That’s why our Year 10 Science curriculum is strategically crafted to not only provide a comprehensive understanding of scientific principles but also to foster critical thinking and analytical skills essential for success at higher levels of education.

Our classes are structured to expose students to foundational concepts across all core HSC Science subjects, with particular emphasis on Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. By delving into these fundamental areas, we aim to empower students with the knowledge and confidence needed to navigate the complexities of these subjects in their final years of high school.

Moreover, our dedicated tutors play a pivotal role in guiding students towards recognising their interests and strengths within the diverse landscape of scientific disciplines covered in our Year 10 Science course. Ultimately, our goal is to provide students with the resources and support they need to increase their academic performances, excel in their chosen subjects throughout high school and in their chosen career. Call ACE HSC Tuition at (02) 9874 7045, email us at, or make an enquiry about finding tutors near you.

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