In your HSC year, you have to complete a minimum of 10 units of subjects for you to able to graduate. However, there really isn't an upper limit on how many units you're allowed to undertake (your school may have their own restrictions though). Despite this, only your ten highest scoring units (including at least two units of English) will count towards your ATAR. One may think why bother doing more than 10 units when anything more won't count, while another may want the extra safety net of having more units just in case you bomb out on one of your subjects.
Why do 10 units
By doing 10 units, you're able to focus all your time and energy on fewer subjects that are gauranteed to be used to calculate your ATAR and not wasted.
Furthermore, there wouldn't always be the thought at the back of your mind thinking that you don't have to do well in a particular subject as you have backups; you are less likely to have second thoughts and may be more likely to be pushed to give it your all when studying for your subjects.
Why do more than 10 units
The safety net of having more than 10 units could save your ATAR from dropping too much if you bomb out on a particular subject, as it may not have to count (remember that 2 units of English always have to count though!). Just by doing 1 or 2 extra units may save you from disaster if you didn't do well in some of your other subjects.
You do however have to study for more subjects and spread your studying time across them all. This may mean each subject gets less attention than they would be given if you only did 10 units. You may even have to spend more time studying or risk doing worse in each one.
I even heard a student that decided to do 15 units all at once! You may think they are crazy, but they are actually using a technique that I will explain below.
You can always start off with more units and drop some later on
You're allowed to drop subjects anytime during your HSC year. I personally did. I first started off with 12 units, as I had decided to take on Maths Extension 2 but wasn't sure whether I'd be able to handle it. Thus, for me, the first term of year 12 was kind of like a trial period for my subjects to see whether I liked them or not. In the end, after the first term, I decided to keep Maths Extension 2 and drop Legal Studies instead because it just wasn't right for me. However, what if I did 10 units and ended up finding Maths Extension 2 too hard? What if I never decided to do Maths extension 2 at the beginning just because I wanted to only do 10 units, but still ended up not liking Legal Studies?
Doing more than 10 units at first does require you to spread out your time to more subjects, but you can always drop down to fewer units once you find out which subjects you like and which ones you don't. However, for some of us, we already know which subjects we love or hate after going through year 11!
There is no right formula that fits everyone when it comes to how many units you should be doing; some like it safe while others want to do as little subjects as possible in order to spend as much time on each one. It is completely up to you and you can maybe even gauge how many subjects you'll be able to handle in year 11 (everyone is required to study 12 units in year 11 and you see if this is too much for you or not) . Remember, you can always ask your teachers, year advisors, or deputy principals as to what may work for you.
Jack Zheng | N° 30