We would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land, waterways and mountains on which we learn, grow and share. We would like to acknowledge the Elders, past and present, for their tireless effort in paving the way for our young people, and extend that respect to our future leaders, the youth of today.


So, you’re more than halfway through high school – well done! The final years of school are exciting and stressful, especially if you’re the first in your family to finish school, or you’re getting back on track after a break from the classroom.

Whether you want to go to university, TAFE, start work right away, or even have a break to help decide, having the HSC under your belt is your ticket to opportunities, skills and success after school.

This information is here to help you plan for the final years of school and support you through the HSC. It’s part of My Future, My Culture My Way, which is helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their parents, carers, and communities through the HSC journey.

What is the HSC?

The Higher School Certificate (HSC) is the highest qualification you can achieve at school.

What do I need to do before starting Year 11?

Take the 1 – 2 day course All My Own Work. It’s all about being an honest student, and what happens if you are caught cheating. Your school will usually organise time for you to do this in Term 4 of Year 10.

How does the HSC work?

  • You will study 5-7 different subjects.

  • During Year 12, you will complete a few tests, projects, or assignments at school. These count towards your final grades, taking some of the pressure off exams!

  • In Term 4 of Year 12, every HSC student takes the same exams.

  • If you meet all the requirements and complete all assessments, you will receive your HSC – this can help you get into university, TAFE, or even your first job.

What's an ATAR?

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is a number between 0.00 and 99.95 that indicates your rank, compared to all other HSC students in NSW, and Year 12 students around the country. So, an ATAR of 70.00 means that you are 30 per cent from the top of all HSC students in NSW.

ATARs are one way of getting into university, but not the only way. Even if you choose HSC subjects that don’t lead to an ATAR, there are many other ways to get into your dream course.

What is the Minimum Standard Test?

As well as the subjects you study and exams you sit, the HSC also requires you to show that you’ve got the reading, writing and numeracy skills to take on life after school.

You can sit the Minimum Standard Test six times every year, from Year 10 all the way to five years after starting HSC subjects. There’s no cost to sit for the test.

If you have a disability or are taking Life Skills HSC courses, talk to your school – you may not have to sit the Minimum Standard Test.

What happens if I miss too much school?

From Term 4 of Year 10, your attendance is really important – if you’ve missed too much school, TAFE, or part of your apprenticeship or traineeship, you may not meet all the requirements for completing your HSC. Make sure you talk to your school about attendance, illness and misadventure, and getting back on track if you’ve had some time away.

Where can the HSC take me?

Success Stories and Videos

Hear from students on how they found success in Year 12 and what they are up to post-HSC.

Career Planning

There’s life after the HSC, too! Have a look at these websites to help you on a career path, whether that’s university, TAFE, or even a job while you decide. Remember you can always take a gap year between school and whatever comes next to help you decide.

Need help deciding what to do? These websites will help you along the way:

Getting into university

Where do I start?

Admission pages for universities in NSW and the ACT, to help you find out more about each university.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Admission Schemes

Check for information about admission programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Check each university's program - no matter what your HSC journey was like there's a way to gain entry into your dream university course.

Am I eligible for bonus points to get into university?

If your journey towards the HSC has been bumpier than most people’s, you may be eligible for bonus points to get into university. There’s no shame in applying for bonus points – they make sure everyone who deserves a spot at uni gets a place, regardless of where they come from. Categories include:

  • Being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

  • Going to school in regional, rural or remote NSW

  • Your address is in the lowest 25% of socio-economic disadvantage in Australia

  • Moving schools three times or more during Years 10 – 12

  • You received financial support, like AbStudy, during school

  • Family disruption, e.g. sorry business, being in out-of-home care, caring for a relative

  • Having to work during the HSC to support your family or community

  • Natural disasters

More linformation

Thinking about a trade or learning new skills?

Career support for Aboriginal Students

Got a question about trades, skills and training programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students? Your local Training Services NSW contact can help.

Need help getting organised to enrol in university, training, or getting a job? Check out the OCHRE Opportunity Hubs.

Want a mentor to guide you through training? Barranggirra is here for you.

Where can I get help during my HSC journey?

There are a number of different programs and scholarships available to help you get through your HSC.

Your school may also have other supports, like Aboriginal Education and Learning Centres, that can help you on your HSC journey. Reach out to your favourite teacher to find out more.

Aboriginal Cultural Programs

Pirru Thangkuray Program

Pirru Thangkuray means dream strong. It’s a cultural goal setting program which aims to support student engagement in learning through a cultural lens.

Junior Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups (AECGs)

Junior AECGs aim to:

  • Ensure Aboriginal Cultures are represented and embedded throughout the school environment and curriculum;

  • Empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through real and active participation in school decision-making;

  • Provide a platform for Aboriginal student voice; and

  • Advocate for Aboriginal Education.

Talk to your favourite teacher, or your local AECG rep, about establishing a Junior AECG at your school.

Financial Support

The following programs may be helpful in planning for the HSC:

    • A range of scholarships to support students through school and beyond

If you don’t have a laptop or internet connection at home to help you complete homework, talk to your school about getting a loan laptop.

Academic Support

There’s no way around it, studying for the HSC is hard work – but you can get help to do your very best.

Talk to your teachers about how to get extra help – your school may also be able to put you in touch with programs and services for your trickiest subjects, or even link you up to an Aboriginal Learning and Engagement Centre.

Here are some academic supports:

Aurora College

  • Aurora College offers HSC study days for students to connect and revise with other students from across the state. A range of experts, experienced teachers and HSC markers present HSC examination advice and up to date information on course content.

Local Libraries

  • Chat to the librarians at your local library to see what’s on offer.

  • The NSW State Library has a handy HSC resource page, with subject guides:

Other resources:

  • The HSC Student Guide has all the things you need to know about exams and study in one place:

Study hacks

Check out our favourite study tips pages here:

Wellbeing and Mental Health Support

It’s important to look after your wellbeing whilst you’re studying hard for your HSC and that includes your mental, social, emotional and physical wellbeing. It’s so easy to get caught up in the pressures and worries around getting your HSC that you forget to take some time out to breathe and take a break.

Exercise, nutrition and rest – make sure you make some time to properly recharge your batteries. Good sleep, good food and some movement such as walking, swimming, playing with a footy/basketball with friends/family, being on Country if you’re able to as these are all things that can help.

Need a yarn? If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with study, having a yarn to an Elder, family member, teacher, or close friend may help with relieving some of your worries. Aboriginal Medical Services also have doctors, mental health workers and counsellors you can yarn to about mental health. Remember no question about mental health is a silly question

Urgent Help

Having a tough time and need someone to talk to? Reaching out and talking to someone is one of the best things you can do.

These free and confidential services operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are available to support, listen and help you out when you need.


  • Lifeline offers crisis support and suicide prevention services.

  • Call and chat service operates 24/7

  • Ph: 13 11 14

Kids Helpline

  • Kids Helpline gives young people aged 5 to 25 free phone and online counselling support.

  • Call and chat service operates 24/7

  • Ph: 1800 551 800

Beyond Blue

  • Beyond Blue can give you information and mental health support. All chats and calls are one-on-one with a trained mental health professional.

  • Call and chat service operates 24/7

  • Ph: 1300 224 636

  • Email and receive a response within 24 hours.

Suicide Call Back Service

  • Suicide Call Back Service can give you immediate telephone counselling and support in a crisis.

  • Call and chat service operates 24/7

  • Ph: 1300 659 467


  • 1800RESPECT can help you if you, or someone you know, is experiencing sexual assault or domestic and family violence. It's available for all ages.

  • Call and chat service operates 24/7

  • Ph: 1800 737 732

  • ReachOut is Australia's leading online mental health organisation for young people and their parents. Visit

ReachOut Forums offer a safe, supportive and anonymous space for 14-25 year old Australians to chat, connect and support each other.

Headspace – Yarn Safe

  • Information that may help you or somebody else, when going through a hard time. There's no shame in talking it out. Headspace is your space to yarn safe.

Managing HSC stress

Check out this handy factsheet on managing exam stress.

Special Consideration

Sometimes life gets in the way of school – so there’s a special consideration process to make sure it doesn’t stop you from getting your HSC.

If you couldn’t attend school, sit an exam, or hand in a project for a different reason, ask your school about submitting a special consideration application.

Disability Provisions

Disability provisions in the HSC are practical arrangements designed to help students show what they know in an exam room fairly. It is not embarrassing to  apply for provisions – more than 7000 HSC students apply for provisions each year.

If you are thinking of applying for disability provisions, start by talking to your favourite teacher.


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