It’s that time of year again: subject selection. Until this point in life, you may not have had the liberty to pick your course subjects, as is standard for most Australian primary and middle school students.
However, as you commence the transition from middle to high school, you’ll most likely find yourself overwhelmed with a plethora of choices. Maths methods, Specialist maths or both? French or Chinese? Yep, it can get pretty confusing!
Below, you’ll find a step-by-step approach to assess which subjects will give you the best satisfaction and results. Have fun choosing!
Step 1: Determine your strengths
Before opening the list of possible future subjects, ask yourself a couple of questions, such as:
- What am I good at doing?
- What achievements have I accomplished in the past?
- What have people come to me for help for / lauded me for in the past?
For example, you might’ve won a few maths olympiads in primary school or grown up speaking multiple languages.
So if you can form an answer to one (or several) of these questions, you have your answer! VCE and IB are two very strategic marathons relying on a combination of natural aptitude and effort. To make your final years of high school smooth sailing, it’s no surprise that knowing what you’re good at and choosing your subjects accordingly will help.
Step 2: Think about what you enjoy
Chances are you will have to study this subject for the next two or /three years. That’s a lot of lessons, homework, and assignments! To avoid being burned out by the inevitable workload of VCE/IB, you should try to select your subjects based on what you like doing. Choosing subjects you like will also make learning effortless. Studying these subjects in more detail may even help you decide on a career path!
Lots of people have significant overlap between what they enjoy and what they’re good at doing. This is often because they’ve been told they’re good at the subject by a friend or family member. This will then contribute to a positive feedback loop, where students try harder to excel. It’s easy to work hard when you’re good at something.
It’s okay if you don’t fully enjoy the ‘mainstream’ subjects that your peers are doing.. There’s no pressure at all to like these subjects.VCE and IB subjects are incredibly varied and you are bound to find at least one subject you enjoy. STEM, sports, arts, and music are all possible choices!
Step 3: Discuss with friends/family
The buzz of excitement about subject selection will probably have gotten to your friends and family too. So why not have a conversation with them? These people know you best, and others may see your potential to do well in certain subjects that you can’t see.
At the end of the day, it’s crucial to note that it’s always your decision. Friends may try to persuade you to choose a subject so you can study together, and your parents may think that you would be best placed in a subject that you don’t think suits you. In these scenarios, you must hold your ground and not give in to peer pressure. Always remember that it’s your life, your future, and your decisions, but it doesn’t hurt to listen to other people’s opinions.
Step 4: Have a uni course in mind? Search up the prerequisites.
This is a no-brainer. If you’ve already decided that you want to complete a certain course in university, you should align your subjects with the prerequisites required.
For example, if you want to study medicine at Monash University, you’ll need at least a study score of 30 in Chemistry (or equivalent), as well as a study score of 30 for English or 35 for EAL (or equivalent). Though English is compulsory for all VCE students, Chemistry isn’t. This means that if you don’t study chemistry, you won’t be eligible to be considered for admission. Many medical schools also require the UCAT. If you’re in your final years of high school and you’re interested in medicine you’ll need to consider this too.
Step 5: Okay, but what does your school offer?
Certain subjects such as languages, Latin and university maths, are only available at select schools. Without transferring to another school, your options to pursue these subjects are limited. You MAY be able to find an online school offering those subjects if you’re lucky via distance education, primarily directed towards those who live in rural or remote areas but also free for metro students. But don’t count on it.
Many languages, such as Korean or Japanese, are available through weekend lessons at Victorian School of Languages. These classes are available in-person or remotely.
What NOT to do: Choosing your subjects based on scaling
Scaling is not an indication of how well you’ll do in a subject. Scaling reflects a subject’s difficulty. You can read more about how scaling works here, but the crux of it is that high scaling subjects require more effort. If you are not good at the subject, you will end up with a lower score than if you chose a lower-scaling subject that you are good at.
Though selecting your VCE/IB subjects is without a doubt challenging, we recommend not overthinking your choices. You can always change subjects if you have second thoughts, so don’t panic if you find out that you don’t like Chemistry (or Methods, or Biology…) that much after a semester.