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The Difference Between the HSC and the IB

Many schools offer both the High School Certificate (HSC) and International Baccalaureate (IB). The decision between the two can be a challenging one, and we recommend that students and their parents spend time deciding which matriculation system is best suited to them.

Below are some important tips to know regarding the two systems.

The HSC comprises of:

• Greater subject specialisation. With only Maths and English compulsory, students can focus on what interests them rather than aiming to cover a broad range of subjects. For example, HSC students can do several units in history or science.
• Flexibility. Students must complete a minimum of 12 units in year 11 and 10 units in year 12, with a maximum of 14 units. This allows students to drop any subject/s they do not enjoy or excel in. The HSC only takes into account a student’s best 10 units.
• End of year exams. The most important time for HSC students is the exam period at the end of year 12. Their other assessments, while also important, do not count as significantly as the final assessments. Many students find this to be stressful as assessments are not spread out over the year.
• Scaling. The HSC is scaled so that a student’s individual mark is affected by the marks of both their school and state cohort. This means that students are impacted by the results of their peers. Subjects are also scaled and it is very important for students to consider this when deciding between subjects. Scaling can create an environment of competition between peers, and this is important to keep in mind when deciding if to do the HSC.

The IB comprises of:

• Compulsory subjects. We recommend the IB to well-rounded students due to the little room for subject flexibility. IB students must study english, maths, a science, a humanity and a language. It is also compulsory for IB students to complete Theory of Knowledge (ToK) and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) in addition to their six academic subjects.
• A more international outlook. As the IB is an internationally recognised matriculation system, all external assessments are sent to international markers. Unlike the HSC, IB students are not affected by the scaling of NSW students. However, due to the prestige of this system, IB markers are known to hold their students to a very high standard. Plagiarism is absolutely unacceptable in the IB and markers will fail any student found to plagiarise.
• Spread-out assessments. While the IB also includes a crucial exam block at the end of year 12, there are a number of equally important assessments spread-out over the year period, including Internal Assessments (IAs) and a 4000 word Extended Essay (EE). This allows students to familiarise themselves with what they are expected to do, and decreases the pressure placed on the final exams.

For parents and children considering the IB, feel free to get in touch to discuss any questions you may have. The IB is a brilliant matriculation system, but is also very challenging and different to the HSC.

Have questions or need help?

Get in touch or give our team a call.