In recent years, there has been a significant decline in the rate of participation in secondary school mathematics courses within Australia, particularly in advanced or higher level mathematics. The aim of this study was to investigate how grade point average (GPA) differed between five health science degrees at an Australian university. The association between Australian Tertiary Admission Ranking (ATAR), the level of mathematics completed at secondary school and GPA was also investigated. Results showed that students studying Biomedical Sciences and Physiotherapy had significantly higher GPA and ATAR than students studying Exercise and Sports Science, Physical Education, and Nursing. A higher percentage of Biomedical Science, and Physiotherapy students undertook advanced mathematics (3C3D MAT) at secondary school than students in the other three degrees, who recorded lower secondary school mathematics result scores from an intermediate or elementary mathematics course studied (3A3B and 2C2D MAT, respectively). The results of this study accord with published literature from other university courses that the decline in numbers of students opting to undertake a higher level of mathematics at secondary school will impact negatively upon their first year university performance.


secondary school mathematics, university performance, first year undergraduates, grade point average (GPA), Australian Tertiary Admission Ranking (ATAR)

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