HSC subject selection made easy


In Year 10, you will select the courses that you will study for the next two years. It's important to lay a strong foundation for your future plans by choosing the HSC subjects that are right for you. 

But with so many HSC subjects, where do you start?

Don’t stress: Subject Compass can help you find your way. 


How it works

1. Enter your interests, skills, chosen career path or tertiary study plans to create your profile. 

2. View a list of HSC subjects that best match your profile.

3. Select your preferred subjects from the list or add new subjects. 

4. Check whether your chosen subjects will make you eligible for an ATAR.

5. Share your Subject Compass results with you careers adviser and parents/guardian.

Chop and change your profile or subject selection as many times as you like. Each year, NSW HSC students complete around 127,000 different patterns of study!


Understand the rules

When you choose your subjects, it's important to understand the rules about completing the HSC and getting an ATAR.  

HSC rules 

You must satisfactorily complete:

  • a preliminary (Year 11) pattern of study that includes at least 12 units
  • an HSC (Year 12) pattern of study that includes at least 10 units.

In both years you must include at least:

  • 6 units of Board Developed courses
  • 2 units of a Board Developed course in English
  • three courses of 2 or more units (either Board Developed or Board Endorsed Courses)
  • four subjects.

Confused about HSC 'subjects' and 'courses'? 
A subject is an HSC area of study (eg mathematics). Within that subject there may be a number of courses (eg Mathematics Standard 2, Mathematics Advanced, Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2). If a student studies, for example, Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2, English Advanced, English Extension 2 and Biology they will not meet the four subjects requirement because they have only studied three subjects: Mathematics, English and Biology.

To check all the ins and outs of completing the HSC, go to the NESA website

ATAR rules

The ATAR rules are slightly different to the HSC rules. This is to make sure that students who intend to go on to uni are well prepared for the demands of tertiary study. 

To be eligible for an ATAR in NSW, you must satisfactorily complete at least 10 units of HSC courses. These ATAR courses must include at least:

  • 8 units from Category A courses
  • 2 units of English
  • three Board Developed courses of 2 units or greater
  • four subjects.

Find out everything you need to know about the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank.

Options for English, maths and languages

English: You must complete at least 2 units of English. You can choose one of the following options: 

  • English Studies (2 units: Category B) 
  • English Standard (2 units) 
  • English Advanced (2 units) 
  • English Advanced + English Extension 1 (3 units) 
  • English Advanced + English Extension 1 + Eng Ext 2 (4 units)        

Mathematics: You can choose one of the following options: 

  • Mathematics Standard 1 (2 units: Category B) 
  • Mathematics Standard 2 (2 units) 
  • Mathematics Advanced (2 units) 
  • Mathematics Advanced + Mathematics Extension 1 (3 units) 
  • Mathematics Extension 1 + Mathematics Extension 2 (4 units)        

Languages: You can choose a Beginners course or a Continuers course, but not both.