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Tell me about Australian High Schools! (1 Viewer)

addictedtobubbletea

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Hi! I’m an international student from Singapore moving to Sydney for year 11 next year. I know nothing about Australian high schools so it would be really cool if anyone would be keen to share about them,, it would be a great help!

some interesting differences I’ve found so far (from what I understand)
- holidays: 2 weeks long in Sydney VS only 1 week in sg but 1 month between semesters 1 & 2
- sports: compulsory for everyone to do at least one sport in Sydney? VS limited placements to do sports here (you can only do sports if you pass trials and have “potential”)
- sports: I heard you can do multiple different sports in Sydney? VS we only allowed to do one sport, which you have to commit to for at least 4 years here
- school hours: 9am-3pm (?) in Sydney VS 7.30am-2.30pm here
- exams: just HSC in year 12 (?) VS one exam every semester here
- classes: moving to different classrooms for different subjects in Sydney VS staying in the same classroom all day here

Would love to chat! Please educate me lol thank youu <3
 
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andrew12678

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I graduated in 2016 but I think most of the things I would say are still true:

- holidays: 2 weeks long in Sydney VS only 1 week in sg but 1 month between semesters 1 & 2
Usually there are 4 school terms of around 10-11 weeks length, 2 terms in Semester 1 and 2 in Semester 2. Two weeks holiday between Terms 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4 and something up to 8-10 weeks between Term 4 to 1 of the next school year.

- sports: compulsory for everyone to do at least one sport in Sydney? VS limited placements to do sports here (you can only do sports if you pass trials and have “potential”)
I think you are referring to grade representative sport (i.e. representing your school in a sport) this depends on the school as to whether this is compulsory in Year 12 but it is from Years 7-11. The level of competition also depends on the school, in they have competitions with other schools on the weekends and so this is taken seriously whilst public schools may just compete with other neighbouring public schools during some designated sports weekday with the competition not being as serious

- sports: I heard you can do multiple different sports in Sydney? VS we only allowed to do one sport, which you have to commit to for at least 4 years here
Provided you pass the "trials/try-outs" you only need to commit to the sport for 1-2 terms. Term 4 and 1 have a different selection of sports available to Terms 2 and 3 depending on the season (in Australia the weather varies so this is completely reasonable). I forgot to mention that if you are unsuccessful in making the grade team for the sport of your choice schools always offer "recreational sports".

- school hours: 9am-3pm
Correct for a lot of schools. My school went from 8:38am to 3:06pm (weird I know)

- exams: just HSC in year 12 (?) VS one exam every semester here
In Year 11 only goes for Terms 1,2,3. Term 4 of Year 11 is actually the start of Year 12. For year 11 you will provide have some assessment tasks sprinkled along with "exam blocks" (where all subjects you study will have assessments of some sort) at certain times of the year. In Year 11 the first exam block is "Half-Yearlies" which is either at the end of Term 1 or start of Term 2 with the second exam block known as "Yearlies" at the end of Term 3. In Year 12, you should probably just expect exam blocks every Term. So at the end of Year 11 Term 4 is your first exam block, the at the end of Year 12 Term 1 is "Half-yearlies", Year 12 Term 2 has another assessment block-no real fancy name and Year 12 Term 3 you have your last set of internal school based exams called "Trials". Then you have around 6-8 weeks break before the actual HSC.

- classes: moving to different classrooms for different subjects in Sydney VS staying in the same classroom all day here
Correct, plenty of movement to different classrooms during the day but probably less than 5 mins walk.
 

vinlatte

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exams: just HSC in year 12 (?) VS one exam every semester here
The HSC is made up of 2 years: preliminary and HSC.

Prelim year is yr 11 made up of 3 terms (terms 1-3). The only compulsory subject is English (2 units) and you need a total of 12 units (subjects are 2u, extension subject additional 1 unit). There are assignments until the prelim exams during the end of term 3, usually a 2/3 week period of exams.

HSC year has 4 terms and starts in term 4 (term 4, then term 1-3 the next year). HSC calculates 10 units, so you can drop a subject however the subjects you do in HSC must be completed in prelims. During term 2 is trials, which are the internal exams. Graduation is the end of term 3. When term 4 starts, technically you are graduated but you need to do the external exams which are the HSC exams. Both internal exams and assignments plus the external HSC exam are calculated for an ATAR, which is a ranking to apply to university.

You can check the NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) site for more info about units, subjects, ATAR, HSC etc.

school hours: 9am-3pm (?) in Sydney VS 7.30am-2.30pm here
It really depends on the school. My school starts at 7:30am to 3:00pm for yr 11 and 12 students but we have more free periods and early finishes / late starts, depending on the combination and number of subjects.

holidays: 2 weeks long in Sydney VS only 1 week in sg but 1 month between semesters 1 &
Each school year starts late Jan and has 4 terms of 10/11 weeks. There are 2 week holidays inbetween except summer holidays from mid-Dec to late Jan, which is 6 weeks. Semesters are 2 terms each.

If you don't mind, what school are you applying to for yr 11? You might be able to find someone here that goes to that school too.
 

denisea

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Hi, I moved to Australia last year and it wasn't that hard to adjust. I used to live in the UK and it was the same but with longer holidays back there. Term 1 is usually 11 weeks long, Term 2/3/4 are 10 weeks long. Since you're going to be in Year 11 next year that means you'd only be doing 6 subjects. English is compulsory subject whether you're doing Standard, Advanced or Extension 1/2 (2 is in year 12 if you want to pick it up) but in some cases you might do ESL. I heard they're making Maths or a Science a compulsory subject too but I might be wrong. I go to a Senior School so it's only Year 11 and 12, we start at 8:45 and finish at 3:05, Wednesdays and Fridays we finish at 1:10 or 1:40. Most schools start around 8:30/8:50 ish until around 3. Some subjects have a higher scaling than some, this will give you an advantage when you do your HSCs as this will increase your chances in getting a higher ATAR assuming you study and work hard. Your ATAR is ranking out of the whole state, when you're in Year 12 you have to try and get in the top rank in your class/year because that's what mostly matters in the end. Your mark may be high, but your rank might not be. I'm not sure what else to say that hasn't been covered yet, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask! :)
 

Cherrybomb56

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Hi! I’m an international student from Singapore moving to Sydney for year 11 next year. I know nothing about Australian high schools so it would be really cool if anyone would be keen to share about them,, it would be a great help!

some interesting differences I’ve found so far (from what I understand)
- holidays: 2 weeks long in Sydney VS only 1 week in sg but 1 month between semesters 1 & 2
- sports: compulsory for everyone to do at least one sport in Sydney? VS limited placements to do sports here (you can only do sports if you pass trials and have “potential”)
- sports: I heard you can do multiple different sports in Sydney? VS we only allowed to do one sport, which you have to commit to for at least 4 years here
- school hours: 9am-3pm (?) in Sydney VS 7.30am-2.30pm here
- exams: just HSC in year 12 (?) VS one exam every semester here
- classes: moving to different classrooms for different subjects in Sydney VS staying in the same classroom all day here

Would love to chat! Please educate me lol thank youu <3
May I know what school you have applied for?
 

addictedtobubbletea

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Thank you all so much for your responses, they are really helpful!

I think you are referring to grade representative sport (i.e. representing your school in a sport) this depends on the school as to whether this is compulsory in Year 12 but it is from Years 7-11. The level of competition also depends on the school, in they have competitions with other schools on the weekends and so this is taken seriously whilst public schools may just compete with other neighbouring public schools during some designated sports weekday with the competition not being as serious

Provided you pass the "trials/try-outs" you only need to commit to the sport for 1-2 terms. Term 4 and 1 have a different selection of sports available to Terms 2 and 3 depending on the season (in Australia the weather varies so this is completely reasonable). I forgot to mention that if you are unsuccessful in making the grade team for the sport of your choice schools always offer "recreational sports".
That makes sense, I never really thought about different seasons, not used to that here o_O How are grade representative spot, recreational sport and sport as an extracurricular different, though? Considering that grade representative sport is compulsory, are different times allocated for these different/additional(?) sports? I heard that time is allotted in the 9-3 school day for sports (which is new to me because all our sports are after school hours from 3-6) but I'm not sure how accurate this info is
Also, really intrigued by "designated sports weekday"! There is a day of the school week dedicated to training?


Correct for a lot of schools. My school went from 8:38am to 3:06pm (weird I know)
Haha whats with the weirdly precise timing...!

In Year 11 only goes for Terms 1,2,3. Term 4 of Year 11 is actually the start of Year 12. For year 11 you will provide have some assessment tasks sprinkled along with "exam blocks" (where all subjects you study will have assessments of some sort) at certain times of the year. In Year 11 the first exam block is "Half-Yearlies" which is either at the end of Term 1 or start of Term 2 with the second exam block known as "Yearlies" at the end of Term 3. In Year 12, you should probably just expect exam blocks every Term. So at the end of Year 11 Term 4 is your first exam block, the at the end of Year 12 Term 1 is "Half-yearlies", Year 12 Term 2 has another assessment block-no real fancy name and Year 12 Term 3 you have your last set of internal school based exams called "Trials". Then you have around 6-8 weeks break before the actual HSC.
Oh I see! So in other words there are 2 exam blocks + assessments in year 11 and 4 exam blocks + HSC in year 12? But exam blocks don't literally mean written exam papers do they, or are they more like graded assessments that count towards your overall grade?

Also, is the year 11 syllabus examinable for the HSC?

Correct, plenty of movement to different classrooms during the day but probably less than 5 mins walk.
Are there homeroom classes too though?

Thanks so much for your help!!! I applied to Baulko too btw but I got rejected hahahha
 
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addictedtobubbletea

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Both internal exams and assignments plus the external HSC exam are calculated for an ATAR, which is a ranking to apply to university.
Oh, I didn't know that both internal exams and external exams count towards your ATAR... What is the weightage like roughly? 50% HSC 50% internal exams? And if internal exams are included doesnt that mean that it just depends on whether you're lucky enough to have your school set an easy paper/assessment... ^^"

You can check the NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) site for more info about units, subjects, ATAR, HSC etc.
Thanks I'll definitely check it out!

If you don't mind, what school are you applying to for yr 11? You might be able to find someone here that goes to that school too.
May I know what school you have applied for?
I don't really feel comfortable sharing bc of privacy aah sorry but I've applied to a selective school via Year 11 entry :) I've tried looking for threads on/users from that school though and its virtually hopeless rip... oh well
 

addictedtobubbletea

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Hi, I moved to Australia last year and it wasn't that hard to adjust. I used to live in the UK and it was the same but with longer holidays back there.
omg nice to find someone who was in a similar position, thats really great to know haha thank you

Some subjects have a higher scaling than some, this will give you an advantage when you do your HSCs as this will increase your chances in getting a higher ATAR assuming you study and work hard. Your ATAR is ranking out of the whole state, when you're in Year 12 you have to try and get in the top rank in your class/year because that's what mostly matters in the end. Your mark may be high, but your rank might not be.
Oh thats interesting that good grades dont necessarily equal to good ATAR. Does high scaling mean a higher chance of getting a high rank despite not getting great grades? I'm not really sure how scaling works. Which subjects have higher scaling? Thanks!
 

vinlatte

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Also, is the year 11 syllabus examinable for the HSC?
I'm pretty sure it is since the prelim content is the base content for the subject.

50% HSC 50% internal exams? And if internal exams are included doesnt that mean that it just depends on whether you're lucky enough to have your school set an easy paper/assessment... ^^"
Yes it is 50% each, however there is a thing called moderation and scaling. Moderation creates an even playing ground, so it adjusts the marks depending on the assignments your school has given.

Scaling is very common term on this forum. It also attempts to make the HSC fair, as a 70 in Maths Ext 2 is different than an 70 in the Maths Standard course. So 'harder' subjects are considered high scaling subjects: sciences, math adv, economics, any extension course. However, scaling only works if you do well. So a 70 in MX2 can be bump up to a high 80, but a 40 can still remain a 40 or even lower.

This is why when choosing subjects, scaling should not be the only factor to consider. Teachers encourage students to choose subjects that you are good at, enjoy or necessary for your future path. You would be more likely to get high marks in a subject that you like or need than a subject that is difficult and you have no interest in.

Are there homeroom classes too though?
I'm assuming most don't have a homeroom. Some teachers can have a permanent classroom, most have different classrooms. For roll marking, my school does it online and marks at beginning of each period. Honestly, it's a mess with both teachers and students moving classes. I wonder how homeroom classes work?
 

addictedtobubbletea

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I'm pretty sure it is since the prelim content is the base content for the subject.


Yes it is 50% each, however there is a thing called moderation and scaling. Moderation creates an even playing ground, so it adjusts the marks depending on the assignments your school has given.

Scaling is very common term on this forum. It also attempts to make the HSC fair, as a 70 in Maths Ext 2 is different than an 70 in the Maths Standard course. So 'harder' subjects are considered high scaling subjects: sciences, math adv, economics, any extension course. However, scaling only works if you do well. So a 70 in MX2 can be bump up to a high 80, but a 40 can still remain a 40 or even lower.

This is why when choosing subjects, scaling should not be the only factor to consider. Teachers encourage students to choose subjects that you are good at, enjoy or necessary for your future path. You would be more likely to get high marks in a subject that you like or need than a subject that is difficult and you have no interest in.
I see. So it would be possible to let’s say get a 90+ atar with 80 marks if your subjects scale well? By the way how is the atar calculated?

I'm assuming most don't have a homeroom. Some teachers can have a permanent classroom, most have different classrooms. For roll marking, my school does it online and marks at beginning of each period. Honestly, it's a mess with both teachers and students moving classes. I wonder how homeroom classes work?
Haha I wonder how non-homeroom classes work. Here, students with the same subject combination are put into the same homeroom class so that the subject teachers don’t have to move around so much. A lot of emphasis is placed on bonding within your homeroom class too and most of your friends are in your homeroom class so I can’t imagine not having one!
 

andrew12678

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That makes sense, I never really thought about different seasons, not used to that here o_O How are grade representative spot, recreational sport and sport as an extracurricular different, though? Considering that grade representative sport is compulsory, are different times allocated for these different/additional(?) sports? I heard that time is allotted in the 9-3 school day for sports (which is new to me because all our sports are after school hours from 3-6) but I'm not sure how accurate this info is
Also, really intrigued by "designated sports weekday"! There is a day of the school week dedicated to training?
Well at my school, we had our designated sport day as Wednesday. So on Wednesdays we would wear "sports" uniform for the whole school day, attend classes until around 12:05pm and then the rest of the day was sport. During this sport time you either did grade representation sport (if you made the team) or you did recreational sport. In Year 12 you are allowed to "go home" instead lol. Any "extracurricular" sport you do is up to you, i.e. you could go play Tennis/Badminton competitively on the afterschool/weekends but usually not many people have time for this in senior years (year 11-12). If you are wondering, I mostly played grade representative sport from Years 7-11 and then just went home in Year 12.

Haha whats with the weirdly precise timing...!
Spent 6 years there still don't know hahahaha

Oh I see! So in other words there are 2 exam blocks + assessments in year 11 and 4 exam blocks + HSC in year 12? But exam blocks don't literally mean written exam papers do they, or are they more like graded assessments that count towards your overall grade?
Exam blocks do mean all written exams :( (well at least at Baulko) but they just each contribute a percentage to your overall grade. Then this overall grade determines your overall rank. Then you sit the HSC exams and to calculate your actual HSC results, for each subject, half of it comes from your performance in the exam and the other half is determined by your rank ("assessment mark"). Obviously directly comparing rankings at different schools is not valid so the assessment mark of everyone at your school is "aligned" to how well your school performed with the top ranked person receiving the highest mark.

Also, is the year 11 syllabus examinable for the HSC?
Yes for Maths but no for English + Sciences. However, some year 12 content will assume year 11 knowledge.

Are there homeroom classes too though?
Not to my understanding haha, you will have to walk around :).
 

vinlatte

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I see. So it would be possible to let’s say get a 90+ atar with 80 marks if your subjects scale well? By the way how is the atar calculated?



Haha I wonder how non-homeroom classes work. Here, students with the same subject combination are put into the same homeroom class so that the subject teachers don’t have to move around so much. A lot of emphasis is placed on bonding within your homeroom class too and most of your friends are in your homeroom class so I can’t imagine not having one!
ATAR is complicated to calculate, even the online ATAR calculators are not exactly accurate. I would suggest reading Matrix Education's guide on ATAR and subjects, it has an in depth explanation with graphs for scaling. Best rule of thumb, if you do well, you will achieve a good ATAR.

With the structure of the HSC, it's unlikely to a create a class with students that have the same subject pattern, especially in schools with smaller cohorts or have more unique subject patterns. Unless you choose the same subjects as your friends, there is a lesser chance to be in the same class as your friends but it does allow you to interact with different students outside your social circle.

My school has buildings with blocks that usually correspond to a type of subject: maths in one area, english in another etc. So teachers won't have to walk too far from their staffrooms to their classes, and students can usually guess where their class would be if they know their timetable.
 

addictedtobubbletea

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Well at my school, we had our designated sport day as Wednesday. So on Wednesdays we would wear "sports" uniform for the whole school day, attend classes until around 12:05pm and then the rest of the day was sport. During this sport time you either did grade representation sport (if you made the team) or you did recreational sport. In Year 12 you are allowed to "go home" instead lol. Any "extracurricular" sport you do is up to you, i.e. you could go play Tennis/Badminton competitively on the afterschool/weekends but usually not many people have time for this in senior years (year 11-12). If you are wondering, I mostly played grade representative sport from Years 7-11 and then just went home in Year 12.
I see. “going home” is such a sad but real thing lol.. oh well I guess in the end HSC is still the most important 🤪

Exam blocks do mean all written exams :( (well at least at Baulko) but they just each contribute a percentage to your overall grade. Then this overall grade determines your overall rank. Then you sit the HSC exams and to calculate your actual HSC results, for each subject, half of it comes from your performance in the exam and the other half is determined by your rank ("assessment mark"). Obviously directly comparing rankings at different schools is not valid so the assessment mark of everyone at your school is "aligned" to how well your school performed with the top ranked person receiving the highest mark.
Ah so it really does depend a lot on the school... I was a little confused because I saw some HSC exams on the forums that were more project-based like creating videos

Yes for Maths but no for English + Sciences. However, some year 12 content will assume year 11 knowledge.
sounds like maths will be the most content-heavy with 2 years of content :0
 

addictedtobubbletea

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ATAR is complicated to calculate, even the online ATAR calculators are not exactly accurate. I would suggest reading Matrix Education's guide on ATAR and subjects, it has an in depth explanation with graphs for scaling. Best rule of thumb, if you do well, you will achieve a good ATAR.

With the structure of the HSC, it's unlikely to a create a class with students that have the same subject pattern, especially in schools with smaller cohorts or have more unique subject patterns. Unless you choose the same subjects as your friends, there is a lesser chance to be in the same class as your friends but it does allow you to interact with different students outside your social circle.

My school has buildings with blocks that usually correspond to a type of subject: maths in one area, english in another etc. So teachers won't have to walk too far from their staffrooms to their classes, and students can usually guess where their class would be if they know their timetable.
Thanks! Insightful info
 
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andrew12678

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I see. “going home” is such a sad but real thing lol.. oh well I guess in the end HSC is still the most important 🤪
It is hahaha or you could "head to a library" with your friends (imo not a very productive thing to do)

Ah so it really does depend a lot on the school... I was a little confused because I saw some HSC exams on the forums that were more project-based like creating videos
Yep a lot depends on the school, if you want you can PM me for any more "private" information you seek about certain schools that you may considering, happy to have a chat.

sounds like maths will be the most content-heavy with 2 years of content :0
Should be not too difficult since you're used to Singaporean maths :p. One of my best mates during high school also moved from Singaporean (although much earlier like around Year 1) and he would destroy me in maths.
 

Cherrybomb56

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Good luck moving into your new school and fitting in. I sure you will do fine. Do you know which subjects you will be doing for next year?
 

andrew12678

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what do you mean by this?
OP stated "I don't really feel comfortable sharing bc of privacy aah sorry but I've applied to a selective school via Year 11 entry :) I've tried looking for threads on/users from that school though and its virtually hopeless rip... oh well"
 

addictedtobubbletea

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It is hahaha or you could "head to a library" with your friends (imo not a very productive thing to do)



Yep a lot depends on the school, if you want you can PM me for any more "private" information you seek about certain schools that you may considering, happy to have a chat.



Should be not too difficult since you're used to Singaporean maths :p. One of my best mates during high school also moved from Singaporean (although much earlier like around Year 1) and he would destroy me in maths.
Thank you for offering, I definitely will if the need comes up!
Singaporean maths is crazy, I’m just glad I get to escape it x)
 

addictedtobubbletea

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Good luck moving into your new school and fitting in. I sure you will do fine. Do you know which subjects you will be doing for next year?
Thank you! Probably 3u English, Biology, Chemistry, 3u Math and still deciding between Drama and Legal Studies. wbu?
 

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