The Top 10 NSW High Schools (by 2020 HSC Marks) You Need to Know About

by admin | 09th April 2021 |

Are you considering having your child apply for a selective school? 

One of the key considerations to determine which school would be the best fit for your child, is their HSC rankings.  

To help you with this step, this blog summarises the top 10 high schools in NSW by their 2020 HSC marks, gives you some information about each school, and notes how selective schools have placed. 

To find out what else you may need to consider when evaluating selective schools for your child to apply for, read our previous blog 5 indicators a Selective High School is a good fit for your child


Top 10 Schools in NSW 


The top 10 high schools in NSW, ranked by their HSC marks for 2020, were no surprise to many in the education industry.  


2020 HSC ranking 


Number of HSC students 

Number of DAs* 

School category 

James Ruse Agricultural High 



Government selective 

Baulkham Hills High 



Government selective 

North Sydney Boys High 



Government selective 

North Sydney Girls High 



Government selective 

Sydney Grammar 




Hornsby Girls High  



Government selective 

Normanhurst Boys High 



Government selective 


Conservatorium High 



Government non-selective 

Sydney Girls High 



Government selective 


Sydney Boys High 



Government selective 

Note: the above rankings were sourced from the Sydney Morning Herald, which uses Band 6 data from the NSW Education Standards Authority, reflecting HSC marks between 90 and 100. 

*DAs refers to distinguished achievements, achievements of a results in the highest band (Band 6 or Band E4). 


As you can see, 8 of the 10 top high schools were selective schools, with Sydney Grammar being the only independent school and Conservatorium High being the only government non-selective school to make it on the list.  

The below graph shows just how far ahead the top ranked high schools are relative to the marks achieved by all other high schools in NSW: 

Source: Sydney Morning Herald via Department of Education 


The top 50 list of high schools consists of: 

  • 18 government selective schools 
  • 1 comprehensive state school 
  • 2 Catholic system schools 
  • 20 independent (private) schools 

James Ruse has had its number one HSC ranking since 1996 and receives the most selective school applications in the state. This level of competition is worth considering as you support your child through the selective school application process. 


Selective school subject offerings 

It’s clear that the top performing schools in NSW are the selective high schools. These are the schools with the highest ATARs, giving their students a better chance of finishing their secondary education well and achieving a top ATAR for entry into their desired university course. 

However, it’s not just about the marks. Subject offerings should also be considered given the varied interests of students. For example, the top performing school, James Ruse, provides agriculture as a compulsory subject until year 10. 

Overall, selective schools appear to excel the most in English, mathematics, and chemistry. Top performance in these subjects is expected, especially given the focus on English, mathematics and thinking skills in the selective school placement test. 

A selective high school is a great way to increase your child’s chances of excelling in their HSC to set them up for a bright future. If you’re considering this for your child, contact us on 1300 001 432 or enrol in our award-winning selective preparation program today! 

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