Students sit HSC mathematics

Students sit HSC mathematics

The rest of the country may be falling behind in mathematics, but these students aren’t going to be part of that equation.
On Wednesday, more than 16,000 fingers battered calculators as they took on the advanced HSC mathematics exams.

Students sit HSC mathematics
SMH News HSC 2015. Story by Irik Bradshaw. Redlands, HSC students, sitting advanced maths, (L) Sonia Kalcina 17, Oliver Glixman 17 and Adelaide Yuill 17. Photo: Peter Rae Tuesday 20 October 2015.
SMH News HSC 2015. Story by Irik Bradshaw. Redlands, HSC students, sitting advanced maths, (L) Sonia Kalcina 17, Oliver Glixman 17 and Adelaide Yuill 17. Photo: Peter Rae Tuesday 20 October 2015.
Among those plotting through the parabola were Redlands HSC students Sonia Kalcina, Oliver Glixman and

“When I opened the 4 Unit paper I was shocked,” said Oliver. “The last page is always the hardest. But once I got going, I built up the confidence and realised I could do it.”
For classmate Sonia, 4 Unit was her version of exam nirvana.
17-year-old Redlands HSC students sitting advanced maths Sonia Kalcina, Oliver Glixman and Adelaide Yuill.
17-year-old Redlands HSC students sitting advanced maths Sonia Kalcina, Oliver Glixman and Adelaide Yuill. Photo:
“This was the one I was looking forward to, it’s all about seeing the beauty of mathematics,” said Sonia, who hopes to become a pure mathematician.
For 2 Unit student Adelaide, the paper was challenging but fair.
“It was better than I though it would be – the last page is always tough but it could have been a lot harder.”
While the 17-year-old Redlands students did not shy away from the rigours of the more demanding course, the state’s teenagers have done so in droves.
Up to 58,000 students sat their HSC maths exams this week, 32,000 of them in the general mathematics stream.
Twice as many students took the less challenging HSC general mathematics course over the advanced, calculus-based course this year, data from the Board of Studies reveals, while the number of students taking no maths at all continues to grow.

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Research published in the Australian Journal of Education found that students have opted to take the HSC general mathematics course because current scaling mechanisms that determine university admissions give an advantage to those students.
A survey of 1000 maths teachers in 2013 found that 51 per cent believed some students in their school were deliberately selecting maths courses below their capability. The most common reason given by students was a desire to optimise ATAR results.
The trend is part of a wider decline in mathematics across the country.
On Tuesday, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced a $6.4 million investment into mathematics teaching.

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“Australia’s performance in mathematical literacy in schools has fallen in absolute and relative terms to its lowest level in 20 years,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Of the countries tested in 2003, only five significantly outperformed Australia in mathematical literacy – but by 2012 we were outperformed by 12 countries.
“Clearly, we can and need to do better,” he said.
Two weeks of the 2015 HSC now remain and NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli took the opportunity on Wednesday to remind students that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“Fifty per cent of the mark is already in the bag,” he said. “Know that whatever the outcome, there is life after the HSC.”

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