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HSC New South Wales


  • Higher School Certificate (HSC), is the high school diploma certificate for New South Wales (NSW), Australia.     

  • To obtain this certificate, students must complete at least 12 units of basic courses (grade 11) and 10 units of HSC courses (grade 12), the English course is compulsory.     

  • There are two main types of HSC courses developed by the New South Wales Department of Education (NESA): Board Developed Courses and Board Endorsed Courses.     

  • If the student's goal is to obtain the Australian Higher Education Admission Ranking (ATAR) qualification, they must take Board Developed Courses.

Requirements to Obtain a Certificate

For Board Developed Courses, students in the 12th grade must complete:

  • At least 10 units (including at least 2 English units);     

  • At least 3 subjects with 2 units or more courses;     

  • At least 4 subjects;

  • The science courses shall not exceed 6 units;     

  • Class B courses cannot exceed 2 units (Class B courses generally cover VET courses).

Students can start the HSC course in grade 12 after completing the basic courses, usually in grade 11, and achieving satisfactory grades.

Evaluation Criteria

  • HSC test scores are divided into two parts = [(1) 12th grade average score + (2) Final Exam test score]/2  


  • (1) Normal results (4 school assessments) consisting of three classroom tests and reports or special projects (mainly in mathematics and science subjects) (70%) + a simulated HSC test (30%)    

  • The formula for calculating HSC scores is based on a comprehensive comparison of the students’ school rankings, class rankings and Final Exam rankings. Three scores will be written on the student's score sheet: the usual grades of grade 12, the final exam scores and the HSC scores

How is the ATAR Ranking Calculated?

  • The HSC score of each subject determines the student's Performance Band.  


  • If the HSC score is 90-100, it will reach the highest Band, 6, if the score is 80-89, it will reach Band 5, and so on. If the score is between 0-49, the scores will all be classified as Band 1.

  • At the same time, the UAC (University Examination Admissions Committee) will calculate the 10 units with the highest scores for each student (at least 2 of which must be English units), and the scores of these 10 units will be added together to get the total score (Called Aggregate).     

  • Because the full score of each unit is 50, the the full score of Aggregate is 500.     

  • In the final step, UAC will compare the Aggregate scores of all the students in the class together, and determine a percentage. This percentage is the national common score-ATAR score obtained by the students.

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