Should I do Standard Maths or Advanced Maths?

As a Math Tutor who teaches Year 7-10 Maths but specialises in Standard Maths, I have taught a plethora of students from a range of diverse and inclusive backgrounds. One thing that I can definitely say is that everyone is different. They are different in how they learn, how they comprehend the content, how they memorise, how they study, and how they ask questions. The transition from Year 10 Maths into Year 11 and 12 Maths requires a student to decide which Math level they should complete. To help and assist with this big decision, I have compiled a few points and questions to help you make the best decision.

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What is Standard Maths? How is it different to Advanced Maths?

I believe that Standard Maths is a different type of Mathematics. The standard course focuses on enabling students to use Mathematics effectively, efficiently and critically to make informed decisions about their everyday life. Contrary to popular belief, YES, you will use mathematics outside of the classroom!

Standard Mathematics provides students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of Mathematics through a variety of real-world applications. The subject is designed for students who want to extend their mathematical skills beyond Stage 5, but are not seeking the in-depth knowledge of higher mathematics topics such as calculus and integrations. This course offers students the opportunity to prepare for a wide range of educational and employment aspirations, including continuing their studies at a tertiary level.

On the other hand, Advanced Maths focuses on enabling students to appreciate that mathematics is a unique and powerful way of viewing the world to investigate order, relation, pattern, uncertainty and generality. The course provides students with the opportunity to develop ways of thinking in which problems are explored through observation, reflection and reasoning.

Now if we were to compare the two, they are both easy and challenging in their own right. The biggest misconception I come across is that a student will choose Standard Maths over Advanced Maths because it’s “easier”, yet, they fail to consider that Standard Maths involves highly information-dense questions.

I have seen questions where they involve so much information but only require you to answer a simple arithmetic problem. Standard Maths is all about understanding what the question is really asking of you. You need to be able to read in between the lines and form a path to the solution. Advanced Maths on the other hand is heavier on the arithmetic side and involves less background information that will eventuate to an answer to the problem. 

One piece of advice that I could give to anyone who is reading this and is contemplating which level of Maths they want to choose is to ask themselves the following questions: 

  1. What level of Year 10 Mathematics did I complete, and was it difficult? 
  2. Do I like reading and understanding problem-solving questions?
  3. Do I like to challenge myself?
  4. Which level of Math will help me in my intended university course?
should i do advanced or standard maths


  1. Is Standard Maths easier than Advanced Maths?

    Yes and No. The concepts you learn in Standard Maths are non-calculus concepts which mean you will be studying applied rather than theoretical mathematics. Standard is easier because some of the questions are straight to the point and can be answered without difficulty. But at the same time Standard Math can be very ambiguous with the design of its questions and problems. Questions are long, typically written in parts and can be filled with words upon words upon words; you really need to understand what the question asks of you.

  2. Will Standard Maths boost my ATAR if I do well in it?

    A single-subject does not have the power to boost nor deflate your ATAR; it is all about the overall performance of both your assessment results, HSC exam result and the cohort you are part of. Yet it needs to be said that Standard Maths is the lowest scaler out of the four available Math courses. Just remember if you put your mind to it, you can achieve great marks in any subject you attempt.

  3. Am I going to even use Mathematics when I finish school?

    YES! YES! YES! Mathematics is part of our everyday lives, and it is an integral part of everyday things used by us. Most of the content you learn in Year 7-10 Mathematics can be applied outside of the classroom and Standard Maths will delve even further into this.

  4. What’s the difference between Standard 1 and Standard 2?

    Standard 1 is a NON-ATAR Mathematics course designed to teach students basic Math concepts without disrupting other subjects’ studies.
    Standard 2 is an ATAR Mathematics course designed to further your knowledge about real-world application Mathematics that can be used beyond the classroom. When we say Standard Maths, we are referring to Standard 2.

  5. What topics do I learn about in Standard 2?

    There are a few main topics that we learn in Standard 2

    • Algebra and Modelling
      • Basic Algebra
      • Algebra and Driving
      • Algebra and Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
      • Algebra and Medicine
      • Graphing Straight Lines
      • Graphing Curved Functions
      • Direct and Indirect Proportionality
      • Business ideas such as break-even, fixed costs, variable costs
    • Measurement
      • Ratio and Rates
      • Conversions
      • Surface Area and Volume
      • Trigonometry
      • Radial Surveys
    • Financial Mathematics
      • Simple and Compound Interest
      • Mortgages (Reducing Balance Loans)
      • Budgeting
      • Credit Cards
      • Taxes
      • Credit Loans
      • The Stock Exchange
    • Data and Statistics
      • Summary Stats
      • Data graphing
      • The Normal Distribution (How scaling in HSC works)
      • The Bell Curve and mark distributions
    • Probability
      • Basic probability
      • Tree Diagrams
      • Probability Trees
      • Relative Frequency
    • Networks
      • Basic Network Terminology
      • Paths, Cycles, Walks and Trails
      • Trees (Kruskal, Prims and Djkstra’s Algorithms)
      • Critical Path Analysis
      • The Shortest Path
      • The Critical Path
      • Backward and Forward Scanning
      • Float Times
      • Maximum Flow/ Minimum Cut Theorem

  6. How do I study for Mathematics?
This is the most commonly asked question. Very simply put, Questions, Questions, Questions and More Questions. The only way you get better at something is by attempting all types of questions that range from easy to difficult.

First of all, make sure you have completed all content on that specific chapter before attempting any HSC styled question. Once you have completed all content that includes chapter exercises and review questions, try to access HSC questions and Trial questions.

At The Thinking Cap Tutoring Centre, your Maths Tutor will provide you with plenty of past paper resources for you to keep!

Finally, I want everyone to consider this saying. Trust, Believe, Breathe.

Trust in yourself and your ability, believe that you can achieve what you have in mind because you are great and finally take a step back, take a big breath and jump right into it, you got this!!

Thank you for reading, and we hope you benefited from this blog. If you or your child are interested in Standard Maths or Advanced Maths Tutoring, contact The Thinking Cap Tutoring Centre on 0415 625 525 for more information. We would love to help!

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