• Some advice for Year 10 students choosing Year 11 Maths

    The number of students studying higher-level mathematics for the HSC has continued to decline since the start of this century. In more recent years there has been an increasing tendency to advise students to study General Mathematics as opposed to 2-Unit Mathematics in the expectation of achieving a higher ATAR, something I have never done.

    This decline has resulted in expressions of concern among academics and employers who are well aware that the future prosperity of Australia depends upon having a workforce sufficiently skilled to take on the challenges that lie ahead.

    Universities have started to address the problem by re-introducing pre-requisites for degrees that include quantitative subjects or giving bonus points to students who study higher-level maths for the HSC.

    Hence students choosing subjects for Year 11/12 should seek advice from a number of sources, including universities and potential employers. Above all, do not readily accept the advice to 'do General Maths and you'll obtain a higher ATAR'.

    It has been my experience that students not in the top class in Year 10 who elect to study 2-Unit Mathematics often find themselves at a disadvantage in Year 11. This is because their algebra skills are not strong. Algebra is the foundation of much of mathematics. Students need to be skilled in solving equations, transposing formulae, factorising expressions, working with algebraic fractions and translating word problems into algebraic statements or equations. Index laws also need to be thoroughly understood. Even though the necessary material is covered in Year 11, it is often completed quicker than some students are comfortable with. Therefore, for these students, Term 4 of Year 10 should be spent immersed in algebra and not treated as a time to do some easy maths.  

    So if you intend studying higher-level maths in Year 11 and feel your algebra skills are lacking then take the initiative and start to work through appropriate material while you have the time in Term 4.  


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