This time last year, I’d heard a whole bunch of HSC Legal Studies myths with nobody to clarify them for me.

Would such a low scaling subject be enough to secure me with a good ATAR? Would this subject help me if I want to do Law?

Luckily for you, I’m here to clear up the top 5 HSC Legal Studies myths to dispel any misconceptions!

Myth #1: Legal Studies doesn’t scale well
Myth #2: Legal Studies is mandatory if you want to pursue a Law degree
Myth #3: Legal Studies only requires memorisation
Myth #4: The time allocation for each section of the paper should be based on the marks
Myth #5: Planning my responses beforehand is unnecessary and a waste of time

Myth #1: Legal Studies doesn’t scale well

We have all probably heard, at some point or another, that ‘HSC Legal Studies’ is not typically synonymous with ‘high scaling’.

While that is unfortunately the case, here’s the thing: if you are passionate about the Legal Studies, and, let’s say, score in the top 20%, it will be so much more beneficial for your overall ATAR than doing something you’re not interested in.

In fact, the Duxes of my school for the past decade have all dropped Maths and taken typically lower scaling subjects such as HSC Legal Studies and other humanities.

It just goes to show that at the end of the day, the HSC is what you make of it and it is ultimately up to you on how you plan on tackling your HSC subjects.

Will it be with hard work and gusto and a great result? Or over-reliance on a strong scaling subject that you despise, and a below-average result? It’s in your hands!

Myth #2: Legal Studies is mandatory if you want to pursue a Law degree

There are NO prerequisite subjects or assumed knowledge for entry into an undergraduate Law degree besides Standard or Advanced English.

With that being said, doing HSC Legal Studies will not necessarily give you an advantage. However, by the same token, not doing Legal will certainly not put you at a disadvantage.

You might find that throughout the course of the year, the study skills you attained in HSC Legal Studies are transferable to university and beyond.

For example, you get to familiarise yourself with essay writing technique, learn how to handle stacks of readings in short periods of time and you begin to develop critical thinking skills.

So, in saying that, HSC Legal Studies is irrelevant in increasing or decreasing your chances of successfully getting into Law; but the skills you gain in doing this subject will surely help you in your tertiary studies and beyond!

“But what about the UNSW Law Admission Test (LAT)?”

The LAT was designed by UNSW in conjunction with ACER as an additional component to examine students’ aptitude to study law.

Like the UMAT, the LAT will not require any knowledge relevant to law, so doing HSC Legal Studies will not necessarily boost, nor reduce your chances.

Myth #3: Legal Studies only requires memorisation

Unless you have perfect photographic memory, it is literally impossible to memorise all your Legal essays while ALSO making sure you cover the entire syllabus.

You will probably end up like this:

Let’s say for each topic, you need to memorise 20 different pieces of legislation, 30 different cases and 50 different legal opinions. That totals to around 400 LCMs (Legislation, Cases, Media) all up.

That in itself is a massive feat, making HSC Legal Studies arguably one of the most content heavy subjects. And because of that, try to be smart with what you choose to memorise!

So, in debunking the myth that HSC Legal Studies is just rote-learning and memorisation, memorisation alone will not work due to the sheer breadth and depth of the subject.

There is just so much.

Instead, you also need to take the time to understand the content, learn how to apply the content to different questions and scenarios, and explain it in a manner that is logical and sustained.

Myth #4: The time allocation for each section of the paper should be based on the marks

Good students follow NESA’s guideline on how to allocate their time, which is according to the amount of marks. And that is a perfectly viable way to tackle the exam if it works for you.

Example time allocation based on marks:

Section Amount of marks Time allocation
Crime + HR multiple choice 15 marks Crime

5 marks Human Rights

30 minutes
Crime essay 15 marks 35 minutes
Human Rights short answer 15 marks 25 minutes
Option 1: essay 25 marks 45 minutes
Option 2: essay 25 marks 45 minutes

However, this guide is not definitive.

Therefore, great students adjust the time allocation based on their strengths.

For example, personally, I find that multiple choice and short answer questions are easier and take a shorter time to improve in, compared to essay writing. And so, I allocate my time accordingly:

Section Amount of marks Time allocation
Crime + HR multiple choice 15 marks Crime

5 marks Human Rights

10 minutes
Crime essay 15 marks 42 minutes
Human Rights short answer 15 marks 13 minutes
Option 1: essay 25 marks 55 minutes
Option 2: essay 25 marks 55 minutes
+ 5 minutes leftover to check and read over responses

Myth #5: Planning my responses beforehand is unnecessary and a waste of time

A lot of us, including myself, are guilty of diving straight into writing an essay without planning or outlining possible points and arguments.

This can either be the best decision you make, or the worst.

Most of the time, it turns out to be the latter because the last criteria has not been adequately addressed: your ability to present a sustained, logical and cohesive response.

Some people may be concerned about cutting their writing time, even by as little as 2 minutes, due to their fear of not being able to show the marker everything they know.

But it is much better to have a shorter essay and be clear with lots of legal layers, rather than an essay that waffles on about things irrelevant to the specific question.

This can cost you dearly and can be the difference between a Band 5 and Band 6 essay, or even a low Band 6 and a high Band 6.

So hopefully, with all these common HSC Legal Studies myths debunked, you’re well on your way to secure that Band 6!

Looking for some extra help with HSC Legal Studies?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC Legal Studies coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at info@artofsmart.com.au or check us out on Facebook!


Frances Tso recently graduated from Sydney Girls High School in 2016 and is known among her friends as the crazy dog lady without a dog. With an avid interest in the dynamics of global change, she decided her HSC major work was not enough to quench her thirst as to how regional interactions impact political and cultural relationships. So, she has decided to study International Studies at UNSW, majoring in International Relations. In her spare time, Frances is either teaching violin, re-watching episodes of Friends for the twentieth time, or perfecting the art on how to be a dog aficionado.