We already have made a blog post about whether to keep or drop HSC Maths Extension 2, and due to demand, we have now also made a post about the same decision in regards to HSC Maths Extension 1.

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.

Whether you're at the end of year 11 or in year 12 right now, you may currently have 11 or 12 units and considering whether to keep or drop that extra unit of mathematics. Here are a few things you should consider before making your decision.


Scaling - You may be doing better than you think

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. 

Jack Zheng | N° 1


Scaling can greatly affect the results of your subjects. For Maths Extension 1, scaling will usually pull your mark up, and hence, you may be doing better than what you actually think.

HSC raw exam scoreATAR equivalent
This is only an estimation. For the estimated ATAR equivalents for other subjects look here

As you can tell, you could be nearly failing or just passing in this subject yet still achieve a mark that is equivalent to an ATAR of approximately 95. Even getting a mark of around 60% in the HSC exam could result in an ATAR equivalent mark of 98!

Want to know how your other HSC subjects scale and what their ATAR equivalents are? Look here!


The safety net of having an extra unit

In the HSC, the 2 units of English plus the 8 units of your best performing subjects will be used to calculate your ATAR. Hence, if you only do 10 units, all of your subjects will be counted towards your ATAR. However, if you decide to undertake 11 units, with Maths Extension 1 being your extra unit, if you bomb out in another subject, you'll have the one extra unit of Maths Extension 1 to back you up! 

Nevertheless, if you still feel Maths Extension 1 is your weakest subject even after considering its scaling, it can still end up as your lowest performing subject and won't count towards your ATAR.



Whilst Maths Extension 1 is a high scaling subject, it is still only worth one unit, and the amount of time you spend on it should reflect both of these aspects. When doing 3 units of maths (Maths Advanced + Extenson 1), you should be spending around 30% of your study time on maths. Of course, this is just a rough guidance, as some of us can pick up mathematical concepts and do questions faster than others (personalisation of your study time allocation is key).

If you are finding yourself needing to spend disproportionately more time on Maths Extension 1 in order to achieve similar results to that of other subjects (after considering their scaling), it is reasonable to ask yourself whether the effort you put in is worth the marks that you get out.

Additionally, effort is often tied with interest, so picking subjects you actually like (rather than just looking at the scaling or popularity of subjects) is also important.

It would also be a great idea to consult your maths teacher or year adviser to help you on your decision. Whether you're in year 11 and deciding on your year 12 subjects, or already in year 12, I hope this will help. Just remember though, for any subject, the scaling of your subjects can only do so much, what's important is still how much effort you will put in throughout your HSC year! Good luck everyone!



Jack Zheng | N° 20