‘More confident’: how HSC physics exam compares to past


As they approach the end of their HSC exams, Ryan Furtado and Alex Li are confident about their chances of getting the ATARs and university offers they need.

Both students at St Pauls Catholic College in Sydney’s west said they are happy with yesterday’s physics exam, which they said didn’t ask any questions they weren’t prepare for. ‘‘The challenging questions required us to think about something that wasn’t in the book but they were an extension of the things we’d learnt,’’ Alex, 18, said. Ryan and Alex thought a question about acoustic impedance was one of the hardest.

‘‘They asked us to find how easily sound can get through an object,’’ Ryan, 18, said. ‘‘Normally you’re given two values and it’s easy to find but we had values that weren’t directly related, it made it really difficult.’’

Year 12 science students at St Pauls all have the option of attending a special class at 7.45am every Wednesday where they go through past HSC papers.

‘‘We do this every year from the beginning of term 4, the boys do past papers and get the chance to ask questions throughout the year,’’ said John Lloyd, who has taught physics at the school for 20 years.

''They’re more confident about pulling apart a question and answering it, it gives them more practice applying their knowledge to past HSC questions.’’

In terms of past physics papers he has done, Ryan said yesterday’s ‘‘fit somewhere in the middle ... there were a few past papers that were pretty difficult’’. More than 9500 students are enrolled in physics this year and it remains the most male dominated science subject, with boys making up 76 per cent of the cohort.

In comparison, biology, the most popular science subject with a candidature of 18,360, has a female cohort of 63 per cent. Ryan said he chose physics, along with maths extension 2 and engineering studies because he wants to do an engineering degree at UNSW after the HSC.

Alex, who also did maths extension 2 and a second science subject, chemistry, said he is tossing up between wanting to be a physicist or a chemist, and wants to study science at UNSW. Both boys said they are fairly confident of getting the ATARs of 93 and 88 they need for UNSW’s engineering and science courses respectively.