Higher Education Research

Publication Date



Advanced courses, First year students, Mathematics achievement, Science achievement, University students, Year 12


The study was commissioned by the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) and conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).


This study explores the extent to which study of mathematics in senior secondary school is a predictor of success in core mathematics and science subjects in the first year of university. The study looked at 16,436 first year students in biology chemistry mathematics and physics from twelve universities covering a range of types. It looked at their pass rates against the level of mathematics that they studied in year 12, including whether they had studied any mathematics of significance to a science degree. The study findings show that, in general, those who study higher levels of mathematics at year 12 have a higher likelihood of passing their science and mathematics subjects in first year university. It also found that senior secondary mathematics background remains a statistically significant influence on first year subject outcomes after controlling for ATAR and other factors and students who were strong performers in Year 12 mathematics (irrespective of the level of mathematics undertaken) have very high first year pass rates.

Place of Publication

Camberwell and Canberra, Australia


Australian Council of Deans of Science and Australian Council for Educational Research



Geographic Subject