SHOULD I DROP MATHS EXTENSION 2? DO 4 UNIT (4U) MATHS? KEEP? HOW HARD IS IT? DIFFICULTY? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
You may have signed up for Maths Extension 2 just to give it a try, especially when you have been doing quite well in Extension 1 in year 11. One term in, you find yourself having additional units and you don’t know whether to keep or drop Extension 2 Maths.
You may be only 'average' in your class or possibly even struggling, and now you might find yourself questioning 'should I keep doing Maths Extension 2 for my HSC?'
Having asked this myself, there are three factors I suggest you consider: scaling, how many subjects are you able to cope with, and the amount of effort you’re willing to put in.
Before we jump right in, if you're not sure whether your maths textbook is the best out there in helping you achieve the highest results you can, have a look at our post on what is the best maths textbook for you between CAMBRIDGE, MATHS IN FOCUS, FITZPATRICK and TERRY LEE.
So what is scaling?
Scaling is used to align marks between different subjects as they have varying degrees of difficulty. For example, it is much easier to get a mark of 90 in Maths Advanced than to get 90 in Maths Extension 2 in the HSC, hence Maths Extension 2 will be scaled higher than Maths Advanced. Thus, if the HSC mark is the same for both subjects, the scaled mark of Maths Extension 2 will be higher (significantly!) than that of Maths Advanced.
Maths Extension 2
While you may feel like you are not doing well in Maths Extension 2, you actually don’t need to do extremely well to get a good ATAR equivalent. As you can see below, you may only need a raw mark of 45% in your exams to achieve an ATAR equivalent of 98.1. In addition, Maths Extension 1 is now worth 2 units instead of 1, which means you will have 4 strong scaling units.
|HSC raw exam score||ATAR equivalent|
With Maths Extension 2 being the highest scaling subject in the HSC, it may be easier for you to attain a higher ATAR compared to other subjects. For example, to achieve an equivalent ATAR score with low scaling subjects, you may need to come first in the subject compared to needing just an average score for Maths Extension 2.
Maths Extension 1
Similar to Maths Extension 2, even if you’re just 'passing' in Maths Extension 1, that can still lead to an ATAR of 95. You might have to get around 90% in 2 unit maths for the same result; hence, you should have a think which would be easier for you to achieve.
|HSC raw exam score||ATAR equivalent|
You’re only required to do 10 units in the HSC; this means with Maths Extension 2 you have the choice of only doing four subjects (4 units of maths + three other 2 unit subjects) instead of the usual five. One less subjects means less time having to study all the topics of an additional HSC course, leaving more time to focus on the fewer subjects you have.
If you choose to do Maths Extension 2, maths will take up almost half of your HSC marks, and you should be spending around 50% of your study time on it. If you are just doing Extension 1, it should be around 30% of your study time. Of course, this is just a rough guidance, if you’re able to do well in less time, great!
However, if you are truly struggling and not getting the marks that you want, then you should ask yourself if it is worth it to keep the subject. You may find maths taking up far too much time at a cost to the other subjects. You might have to decide to drop it or keep it but seek additional help.
Additionally, effort is often tied with interest, if you like it, you’ll generally do better in it.
In the end, I personally chose to keep Maths Extension 2 even though I found it challenging, but I am very happy that I did, having done much better than I expected and it helped me get the ATAR I wanted. Nevertheless, there is no definitive right or wrong choice, and everyone needs to find out what is right for them.
Have a think about this for yourself; whether the effort you put in is worth the marks that you get out (taking into account the impact of scaling). Remember, for Extension 2 maths, you don’t actually need to do extremely well, you just need to do well enough and let the scaling do the rest!
Jack Zheng | N° 1