Secondary school science predictors of academic performance in university bioscience subjects Academic Article uri icon


  • In 2009 the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia is introducing a common first year for 11 different undergraduate courses in the faculty. Current prerequisite science entry requirements vary with course and range from none to at least two science or mathematics subjects and from approximately 50 to 99 in Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank (ENTER) scores. Under the previous structure, students in different courses completed a variety of different subjects at first year. Concern about the ability of such disparate groups to complete a common first year led to the current investigation of the relationships between year 12 (final year of secondary school) science subjects and performance in first year university bioscience subjects. Year 12 results for all science-related units and ENTER scores were obtained for all Victorian students enrolling in a first year course in the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2005 and 2006. Regression and other analyses were conducted for five first year bioscience subjects. The ENTER score was the best predictor of academic performance in all units except regional anatomy. Performance in many secondary school science subjects was highly predictive of performance in physiology, combined systematic physiology and anatomy and biomechanics units, but again not for regional anatomy units. It appears that year 12 performance in science subjects and ENTER scores may be important predictors of success in physiology, but not regional anatomy subjects at university. It is possible that regional anatomy is an entirely new subject area that requires new types of learning unrelated to year 12 science subjects.

publication date

  • May 2009