Year 12

The Higher School Certificate is the highest educational award you can gain in NSW schools. This certificate is issued by the NSW Board of Studies and is presented upon the successful completion of both the Preliminary and Higher School Certificate courses. A minimum of 10 units must be studied in this course unless you are a mature age student where different requirements may exist. In the best interest of the student and at the discretion of the principal, the College may insist students present with 12 units for this course up to the time of the trial exams.

Higher School Certificate Requirements

To satisfy the pattern of study requirements for the Higher School Certificate a student must undertake a program of study comprising at least:

  • 12 units of Preliminary courses and

  • 10 units of Higher School Certificate courses

Both the Preliminary and Higher School Certificate patterns must include: 

  • At least 6 units from Board Developed courses

  • At least two units of a Board Developed course in English

  • At least three courses of two units value or greater

  • At least four subjects

  • No more than six units of courses in Science can contribute to Higher School Certificate eligibility.

Accumulation of the Higher School Certificate

Students are able to accumulate Higher School Certificate courses towards the Higher School Certificate for up to five years. The five year period will commence in the first year the student attempts a HSC course examination. Accumulation of HSC courses cannot extend over more than a five-year period. Preliminary courses, may, but need not be, accumulated within this period. On completion of the accumulation all HSC pattern of study requirements must have been met for both the Preliminary and HSC courses. They need not be met for each calendar year of accumulation.

Entry to University

The requirements for the ATAR are determined by the universities. The ATAR is calculated by the University of Sydney. Students to be eligible for an ATAR must:

  • Have at least two units of English

  • Have at least 8 units of Board Developed Category A courses of two units value or greater included

  • Have at most two units of Category B subjectinclude courses from at least four subjects

  • The ATAR may include units accumulated by a candidate over a total time span of five years

Adult Entry to University

Most universities make provision for certain applicants with a limited educational background to be given special consideration for admission. In the absence of adequate formal educational qualifications, you may be admitted to any university through the Mature Age Admission Scheme provided that you are over 20 years of age on the 1st March in the year you sit the HSC exam.

Limited ATAR

To be eligible for a Limited ATAR you must meet the following criteria: 

  • You must be at least 20 years of age on 1st March in the year of the HSC exam

  • You must be taking between 5 & 9 units of Board Developed Courses

  • You must attempt the units at one sitting - you cannot accumulate a Limited ATAR

The Limited ATAR will be calculated on the basis of the best 5 units of category A subjects including at least 1 unit of English

Please note: Not all institutions use the Limited ATAR.


The institutions that do not use the Limited ATAR are:

  • University of Technology, Sydney


A number of the Universities use the Limited ATAR in conjunction with other criteria for selection purposes. It is essential that you check with the institution prior to becoming a Limited ATAR candidate.

For further information please phone the College on 9707 3288 and ask for the Enrolment Officer on 9707 3288

All the information required to make an informed choice is available at Senior Curriculum 2012-13 (doc 735 KB)


Year 12 is a busy time for students as they study for the Higher School Certificate and make plans for life after school.

HSC support

A range of online resources is available to help students and parents understand the HSC and prepare for assessment and examinations.

  • Year 12 students can set up their personal profile on NSW students online and access support materials including the HSC exam timetable and answers to frequently asked questions about the HSC.
  • Students can prepare for the final exams by looking at past HSC exam papers.

After Year 12

It's a good idea for your child to start thinking about careers that suit their interests and abilities as early as possible. You may like to talk with the careers adviser and research options together.

Resources, such as the following sites are readily available:

Future study and training options

For students considering continuing with study, visiting the following links can help them make an informed decision:

Going to careers markets and open days are also good ways to find out what's on offer.

Job searching

These websites list job vacancies and apprenticeship and traineeships opportunities: