Navigating the New Syllabus – Part 3: Networks

This is the third update in a new “Teacher Series” for the Standard 2 HSC course. 

We are constantly updating our platform and database to reflect the most recent information available to help you navigate the new syllabus changes with confidence. Term 1 updates worth noting are:

  • Networks sub-topic Analyses now available.
  • Networks sub-topic “Targeted Worksheets” have been integrated into the program and are also now available.
  • Where applicable and helpful, past VCE Marker’s Comments and mean marks are included to identify weaknesses flagged by other student cohorts.
  • Question concepts and terminology have been adjusted to reflect the latest information officially released and the advice of respected practitioners. This is an ongoing process.
  • NESA’s “Additional sample examination questions” released in Term 1 for Mathematics Standard 1 and 2, has helped illuminate a number of content debates in Networks. This new information is now reflected in our database.

 In order to get the most out of your subscription in this new topic area, a number of key elements within Networks are described in detail below. Remember that this information (and more) can be integrated into your worksheets at the click of a mouse!

N2 Basic Concepts

  • Network diagram, table, matrix: Completing a table (or matrix) from a network graph and vice versa is a core competency we view as even more important after NESA’s recent release of supplementary questions – this is reflected in our database. 
  • Basic Concepts: Questions review basic concepts such as; odd and even vertices, tree and path definitions, connected network, weighted edge, etc..
  • Multiple choice questions are slightly over-represented in our database to allow teachers to target specific concepts and evaluate student understanding (or lack thereof).
  • Euler? This concept is included in the main syllabus document via the explicit mention of the Konigsberg Bridge problem. The absence of any “Euler” terminology in the syllabus or glossary results in our current stance on the issue: the concept is tested but not emphasised in our database (when tested, direct usage of “Euler” terminology is avoided by design) .

N2 Shortest Paths

  • The difficulty of questions in this area is expected to be in the low to mid-band levels. 
  • Implementing Djikstra’s algorithm to solve questions in this topic has been a focus. This solution method is provided in detail in most worked solutions, reflecting its importance in NESA’s Networks Topic Guide.
  • Questions can require students to find a “shortest distance” by providing either a network diagram or a table, both of which are covered in the database.

N2 Minimum Spanning Trees

  • This topic area is well represented in our question database, drawing from excellent direction in the syllabus document, NESA’s Networks Topic Guide, exemplar questions and past VCE exam questions. 
  • We expect this sub-topic to represent a high scoring opportunity for a majority of students with typical levels of difficulty around the Band 3-4 level.
  • The worked solutions provide significant detail for solving problems using both Prim’s and Krukul’s algorithms, reflecting the step by step approach outlined in the Networks Topic Guidance document.

N3 Critical Paths

  • This is where things get really interesting in Networks. With 6 dedicated pages in NESA’s topic guidance and a sample exam that dedicated a five-mark question to this specific area, all indicators point to a significant mark allocation in the 2019 HSC.
  • A number of our database questions look at drawing a network diagram for a project from a table of activities and then scanning forwards and backwards to establish EST and LST for each activity. This is a critical competency that has regularly produced sub-50% mean marks when tested in other State exams.
  • The importance of setting out “scanning” information in network diagrams logically and clearly cannot be overstated, and detailed worked solutions are provided to underscore this. Note that two styles of answer layout are provided – one reflecting the NESA sample exam solution and the other following the Networks Topic Guidance.
  • Questions involving shortening critical paths have proved to be challenging, particularly when reducing float times create new critical path(s). A number of questions explore this difficult area.

N3 Flow Networks and Minimum Cuts

  • Minimum Cut / Maximum Flow: this area has been examined in other States for many years and importantly for revision purposes, has regularly caused problems for students.
  • A notable problem area requires conceptual understanding of “reverse” flows (i.e. flows from sink to source across a minimum cut line) and is well covered in multiple database questions.
  • In addition to more difficult problems, we ensure our database also covers many lower band questions, in a similar style to the examples provided in official Networks Topic Guidance and exemplar question releases from NESA.

Other Major Developments ..

  • Standard 1 Teacher Edition – demand has pushed this development to priority #1 with availability expected next week.

Get the most out of your subscription => update your HSC RAP and NAPLAN results data! (our analysis and integration is free for Silver subscribers)

Thanks and regards,

Matt Burgess
SmarterMaths Founder
[email protected]
ph (02) 8007 3358

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