Year 12 mathematics participation in Australia 2007 – 2016

Authors: Frank Barrington, Michael Evans
Publication Date: October 30, 2017

This summary is of Year 12 mathematics students enrolled through the secondary boards of studies in the states (NSW, QLD, SA and TAS, VIC and WA) and in the territories (ACT and NT) together with Australian International Baccalaureate (IBO) students.

ADVANCED and INTERMEDIATE mathematics participation rates:

In National Curriculum parlance, “Advanced mathematics” is Level D and “Intermediate mathematics” is Level C.

Download PDF of Year 12 mathematics students in Australia – last ten years

The NUMBERS of Australian Advanced mathematics (Level D) students were:


The NUMBERS of Australian Intermediate mathematics (Level C) students were


Note that an Intermediate mathematics STUDENT is one who is enrolled in a mathematics Level C subject but is NOT enrolled in a Level D subject. 

In 2016 the total Level C mathematics ENROLMENT exceeded 61,000. Most Australian Level D mathematics students also enrol in a Level C mathematics subject.

Although the 2016 Intermediate (Level C) NUMBER is higher than in any of the previous nine years, the Intermediate student participation rate has fallen from 21.2% in 2007 to 19.4% in 2016, as the Year 12 population grew by about 14% during the ten-year period.  

See the graph above: only 28.9% of the Year 12 population undertook mathematics at least to Level C in 2016, compared with 31.4% in 2007.

ADVANCED/Level D mathematics gender split:

The girls’ Level D participation rate of 7.0% in 2016 is up from 6.9% in 2015, while the boys’ rate of 12.1% in 2016 is down from 12.6% in 2015.  The 2016 boys’ Advanced/Level D participation rate is the lowest during the period 1995-2016.

Download PDF of Year 12 advanced mathematics students in Australia – gender split

INTERMEDIATE/Level C mathematics gender split:

 Both the girls’ and boys’ Level C participation rates are up slightly: the girls’ rate of 18.3% in 2016 versus 18.0% in 2015; the boys’ rate of 20.6% in 2016 versus 20.5% in 2015, for an overall Level C participation rate of 19.4% for 2016.

Download PDF of Year 12 intermediate students mathematics in Australia – gender split

ELEMENTARY mathematics (Level B and Level A together)

In 2016:

  • there were 136,114 Australian Elementary mathematics ENROLMENTS, of which 50.5% were enrolments of girls and 49.5% were enrolments of boys;
  • girls comprised 51.7% of the total Australian Year 12 population, so were just slightly under-represented in Elementary mathematics enrolments;
  • there were 60.1 Elementary mathematics enrolments for every 100 Year 12 students;
  • among the girls there were 58.6 Elementary mathematics enrolments for every 100, and among the boys there were 61.7 enrolments for every 100;
  • of the Elementary mathematics enrolments, 107,146 were at Level B and 28,968 were at Level A;
  • of the 107,146 Level B enrolments, 52.0% were enrolments of girls and 48.0% were enrolments of boys;
  • of the 28,968 Level A enrolments, 44.9% were enrolments of girls and 55.1% were enrolments of boys;

We estimate that in 2016, between 53% and 55% of Year 12 students took an Elementary mathematics subject but DID NOT TAKE an Intermediate mathematics subject NOR an Advanced one.  We do not have access to all of the detailed data required to determine this percentage exactly.    Many students take both a Level B subject and a Level C subject, and many take both a Level A subject and a Level B subject etc.  We only have crude estimates of the “overlaps”.

In previous reports, we have used the label “Elementary” for Year 12 mathematics subjects which are neither Advanced nor Intermediate.   Such subjects generally contain no calculus.   The labels “Level B” and “Level A” will be applied in future reports.

With the advent of the National Curriculum, new Level A mathematics subjects are being introduced.    At this stage, we are unwilling restrospectively to deem all Elementary subjects from past years as Level B or Level A.   (Many of these subjects have been discontinued.)    In future reports there will be scope for presenting Level B and Level A enrolment data in time-series form.

Frank Barrington

Michael Evans

Recent Posts