Welcome to Stage 6!

Subject selection choices and advice

This is an important time for a young person in deciding what the final two years of school will look like. This site aims to inform families and students about subject opportunities on offer for students as they move into Stage 6 here at St Brigid’s Catholic College and the process that needs to be followed for subject selection.

Our hope for our students is to attain the best possible Higher School Certificate result they can. To do this, you should choose courses that you are interested in, good at and ones that you may use in the future. When considering which courses to study, explore the content and videos of each of the courses you think you may like to choose. For example, investigate what are the course outcomes? Will you be required to submit a major work, or perform as part of your examinations?

Talk with your teachers about your strengths and weaknesses, as well as individual course requirements before making your selections. Teachers have a wealth of knowledge and can give you some helpful information about their courses. They can give you further understanding of courses that would be best suited to your academic ability. We encourage you to also speak with students in Stage 6 currently and find out what they think about courses, patterns of study and perhaps what they may have done differently.

There are many directions students can take and we have had many students take an alternate pathway from that of the traditional Higher School Certificate pattern of study. We trust that the opportunities offered at St Brigid’s Catholic College allow students to move beyond school in multiple ways including TAFE, University and the world or work.

Good luck as you embark on this exciting time in your educational journey and rest assured we will be here to support you.


Board developed courses

These courses require academic rigour. They are examined by NESA and require a depth of knowledge and understanding. They contribute towards the calculation of an ATAR.

Board content endorsed courses

These courses count towards the HSC, but do NOT have an examination and do NOT contribute to the calculation of an ATAR.

You must satisfactorily complete:
  • a Preliminary pattern of study that includes at least 12 units

  • an HSC pattern of study that includes at least 10 units

Both patterns of study must include at least:
  • 6 units of Board Developed Courses

  • 2 units of a Board Developed Course in English, or English Studies

  • 3 courses of 2 or more units (either Board Developed or Board Endorsed Courses)

  • 4 subjects.


What is an ATAR?

The Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) is a number that is used by universities to select which students, who have completed their HSC, will be offered a place in a course at university. The ATAR is not a score, it’s a rank. If a student gets an ATAR of 80, this doesn’t mean they averaged 80%. It means they are 20% from the top of their age group.

How does the ATAR work?

ATAR courses are those developed by NESA for which there are formal examinations that yield graded assessments. These courses contribute to your ATAR and are classified as either Category A or Category B courses. Not all of the many HSC courses will contribute to an ATAR.

Criteria for Category A courses: academic rigour, depth of knowledge, the degree to which the course contributes to assumed knowledge for tertiary studies, and the coherence with other courses included in the ATAR calculations.

Criteria for Category B courses: the level of cognitive and performance demands are not regarded as satisfactory in themselves, though their contribution to a selection index is regarded as adequate if the other courses included in the aggregate are more academically demanding.

Who gets an ATAR?

HSC students who indicate on their HSC Entry Form that they wish to gain an ATAR will receive an ATAR Advice Notice from UAC. This will be available at the same time as they receive their HSC results.

There are two points at which a student will not show an ATAR. These include:

  • Students who achieve an ATAR between 0.00 and 30.00; they will have their ATAR reported as “30.00 or less”.

  • Students who do not meet the ATAR rules; the statement ‘Not eligible for an ATAR’ will appear on the ATAR Advice Notice.


The ATAR rules are slightly different to the HSC rules. This is to make sure that students who intend to go on to uni are well prepared for the demands of tertiary study.

To be eligible for an ATAR in NSW, you must satisfactorily complete at least 10 units of HSC courses. These ATAR courses must include at least:

  • 8 units from Category A courses

  • 2 units of English

  • three Board Developed courses of 2 units or greater

  • four subjects.

Minimum Standards

Students need reading, writing, and numeracy for everyday life after school.

This is why students in NSW are being supported to meet a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy to receive the HSC from 2020.

To show they meet the HSC minimum standard, students need to achieve Level 3 or 4 in short online reading, writing, and numeracy tests of skills for everyday life.

Students do not need to sit the reading, writing or numeracy test(s) if they achieved Band 8 or above in the respective Year 9 NAPLAN test(s).

The minimum standards tests will begin next Semester here at the College. Students will attempt these tests online. It is in the best interest of the students to take these seriously. As a best outcome students should hope to only sit these exams once. NESA 2023

How do I choose my subjects?

Students should choose subjects that are challenging, realistic and of interest to them. Attempting to balance these gives students the best possible options beyond school.

Students should consider their needs and interests beyond school, choose subjects that challenges them to stretch their aspirations, and that accurately and realistically reflect both the their readiness and the dynamic nature of the HSC.

It is important to look at each of the subjects offered and discuss these with your parents and teachers.

It is worth remembering that you are choosing subjects for the next two years and not for the rest of your life. There are many ways to get to the path you are looking for, the HSC is only one!!

Students should use the following guide when considering their subject choices:

  • Do I enjoy this subject?

  • Will I be challenged by this subject?

  • Do I have the capability to achieve the outcomes of the course?

  • Post-school opportunities – further education and/or employment

  1. ATAR PATTERN OF STUDY- students will complete courses that allow them in the HSC to use 10 units towards gaining an ATAR

  2. ATAR PATTERN/VET/SBAT PATTERN OF STUDY- students can complete a VET/SBAT course that can allow (in some cases to gain an ATAR)

  3. NON ATAR PATTERN OF STUDY- This includes a combination of courses that allows them to gain their HSC, possible certificates or start a traineeship/apprenticeship.