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With all the major changes to the NSW Higher School Certificate we feel that it is important to clearly list out what has changed and how we feel this affects you going into the new HSC examinations. Reading this article may give you the ‘2020’ vision you need to understand what you need to do to prepare and tackle the fast-approaching new academic year!

Stepping Stones Education is a Fairfield Tutoring Centre opened in 2014 and since that day we have had the absolute pleasure of working with THREE different English, TWO Physics, TWO Chemistry and TWO Mathematics HSC Syllabuses in total.

We understand what it means to tackle new syllabus requirements and we also understand that every new academic year means a new strategy and approach. If you’d like to contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

Need some extra help with your HSC preparation? 

So, what were the major changes? Let’s quickly recap them now.

Year 11 2018
  • New Year 11 English Advanced/Standard Syllabus introduced
  • New Year 11 Mathematics Standard Syllabus introduced
  • New Year 11 Physics Syllabus introduced
  • New Year 11 Chemistry Syllabus introduced
Year 12 2019

First Cohort to sit HSC Exam on NEW Syllabus for:


  • Year 12 English Advanced/Standard
  • Year 12 Physics
  • Year 12 Chemistry
  • Year 12 Mathematics Standard
Year 11 2019
  • New Year 11 Mathematics Advanced Syllabus introduced
  • New Year 11 Mathematics Extension 1 Syllabus introduced
Year 12 2020
  • New Year 12 Mathematics Extension 2 Syllabus introduced

Second Cohort to sit HSC Exam on New Syllabus for:

  • Year 12 English Advanced/Standard
  • Year 12 Physics
  • Year 12 Chemistry
  • Year 12 Mathematics Standard

First Cohort to sit HSC Exam on New Syllabus for:

  • Year 12 Mathematics Advanced
  • Year 12 Mathematics Extension 1
  • Year 12 Mathematics Extension 2

So, let’s digest this quickly:

2020 is the year where every change NESA has set out to implement is fully underway.

For the students who are sitting their HSC exams in 2020 you can rest assured that for English, Science and Standard Mathematics you will have at least one full year of resources to work from.

However, for those sitting Mathematics Advanced or Mathematics Extension 1 or 2 you will need to carefully plan how you approach the new topics that may not have many past paper resources.

Are there any other major changes?

Changes to syllabus requirements often are the largest and most significant thing students pay attention to, and rightfully so.

With the HSC examinations, testing has remained the same. Your ATAR is still split between a 50% internal and 50% external mark, which means that all your tests you sit in school will count towards 50% of your overall mark and your final HSC examination in October is the remaining 50%.

However, NESA has implemented restrictions for schools in 2019 to limit the number of internal assessments per subject. This means that all schools will have the same number of internal assessments as one another.

So, how should you prepare for the HSC in 2020?

Your performance in this school term, being your first term of Year 12 will determine what head-start you want to give yourself for the remainder of the year.

On average, with the limited internal school assessments it is fair to expect that this term you will find yourself sitting examinations for your subjects that weigh 15% – 25% of your overall internal mark. The strongest advice we can provide to all Year 12’s starting their HSC is that you must mature and rise up to face the challenge of the HSC as soon as possible. Based on our history of working with students we have historically found that students who perform poorly in Term 1 do still have the opportunity of catching up and regaining lost ranks and marks BUT would still have appreciated a stronger wake up call before their first HSC internal exams.

So, here is the wake-up call. Your Year 11 Preliminary Examinations that you sat not that many months ago do indeed matter and you should use your results to judge how you approach your study. If you were a high achiever, there is a great opportunity for you to continue this streak and tackle all upcoming content with the same intensity and motivation you showed in Year 11. On the other hand, if you didn’t perform up to your standards you need to use this as motivation and reasoning to take things seriously as every little decision you make to improve your learning and study routine will add up to an improved result in your upcoming examination.

But, for both High Achievers and Aspiring Achievers here is a list of things you can start doing to either check your progress or improve on your habits.

1. Eliminate distractions so you can meet your deadlines and responsibilities for homework.

If you spend time during the weekdays relaxing and this is causing you to fall behind on homework or is preventing you from studying and focusing, it is an achievement in itself to reduce or eliminate it completely. Everyone likes distractions and it is a milestone to learn how to replace the time you waste with things that aren’t important with things that are.

2. Create a personal system for organising your notes, completed/uncompleted homework, upcoming deadlines.

How do you store your work from school, notes from class, etc? How do you manage your deadlines? start simple, make folders on your computer, purchase physical folders to store worksheets, even consider making lists of things you need to accomplish every day/week.

3. Understand your academic weaknesses and figure out ways to work on them!

WHEN do you realise you don’t understand something? Wherever it is in your learning process you need to make sure you are honest with yourself and clearly work out ways for you to identify what does it mean for you to not understand something.

In these cases, your study routine will reveal to you what academic weaknesses you have and ultimately how to deal with it. Whether it is a matter of upkeep or rather making sure you may have someone else available to explain the concept to you, both fail-safes are important!
With all HSC examinations, the true success stories come from those individuals who use this test as an opportunity to grow and overcome limitations they thought they had on themselves. It is important to know that self-evaluation and being critical on yourself is often difficult and that is where the mentorship and guidance from others can make a big difference in giving you the pathway to follow so you can improve.

We would encourage students sitting the HSC examinations to contact the talented academic tutoring team at Stepping Stones Education, we would be more than delighted to hear your individual concerns and see how you can start receiving the help you need to start improving as soon as possible! We offer Mathematics Tutoring, English Tutoring, Physics Tutoring and Chemistry Tutoring.

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