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Option overload? Tips for choosing the best Year 12 subjects

Deciding which Year 12 subjects you want to choose may be one of the biggest decisions you’ve had to make in your schooling life.

It’s a year associated with all-nighters, an over-consumption of coffee and giving your highlighters the biggest workout they’ve had so far. Although it may all seem like a bit of a daunting task now, one of the secrets to surviving the treadmill that is Year 12 lies within choosing the best subjects for you.

To help ease your mind surrounding the confusion felt at subject selection time, we’ve spoken to three Deakin students who achieved high ATARS to gain their tips on picking the perfect Year 12 subjects.

The power of prerequisites

If you’re thinking of heading off to university post-Year 12, you’ll know there may be prerequisites required to allow entry into your dream degree. Most commonly Year 12 English is a prerequisite – and if you’re sure that’s all you’ll require, feel free to go forth and pick the other subjects that appeal most to you.

However, if you’re deciding to dive into an area that requires knowledge in another subject, you’ll want to make sure you choose wisely to avoid limiting your tertiary study options. The good news is, if you’re clear on what you want to study in the future, it’s likely your interest has already piqued at the subjects required as prerequisites.

Choose subjects that you love

It’s not surprising that often the things you care about the most garner the majority of your time and attention. When it comes to your Year 12 subjects, this is no different. Deakin student Maxwell Bond who achieved an ATAR of 97.40 in 2017 believes, ‘the most important thing for choosing subjects is definitely to pick what you enjoy and what you are good at, as it is much easier to study the subject if you have a genuine interest in it’.

This solid advice is backed by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). It advises that as long as you choose subjects you enjoy, can do well in, and importantly, reflect what you are keen to study at university or further education, you’re on the right track to crush VCE.

Current Deakin student, Zoe Tilley, who completed Year 12 in 2016 with an ATAR of 99.1, tends to agree with this: ‘my best advice for choosing subjects in Year 12 is to choose the subjects you enjoy and can do well in,’ she explains. ‘I was motivated to study as I wanted my results to reflect my love for the subjects.’

If time is on your side, plan ahead

If you’re currently in Year 10 or 11, you’ve still got time up your sleeve to accelerate into a VCE subject. This brings the benefits of either:

  • lightening your course load in Year 12 to four subjects, or
  • Increasing your overall subject number to six, giving you an

If you think you’re going to most likely be heading into Year 12 with some time-consuming or content heavy subjects, the first option may be the best tactic for you. On the other hand, if you’re feeling pretty comfortable with your workload, the second option could be the way to gain the extra marks you need.

This alternative worked for current Deakin student Maxwell Bond, ‘I undertook English, Economics, Maths Methods, Further Maths, and Geography in Year 12, whilst also doing Business Management in Year 11 as a Year 12 subject,’ Maxwell explains.

If you’re going into Year 11 and haven’t accelerated a subject yet, but want to, all is not lost. Many Year 12 subjects such as Business Management, Health and Human Development and Psychology can be under taken without even having previously completed Units 1 and 2.

Balance your workload

Feeling overwhelmed by all the advice you’re hearing? It’s easy to feel competing priorities between the subjects you’re most interested in, and those you’re being advised to do. If you take everything into account, you might find

In other words, it often occurs that students tend to select lots of subjects that are either incredibly in depth and content-heavy, like History and Literature, or overly time-consuming and hands-on, such as Drama and Visual Communications.

If you have already chosen subjects that require a heavy workload in terms of note-taking and revision, do not fear. Current Deakin student Esdra Sicardi’s explains, ‘all my subjects were focused on essay-style question, I can say that my study revolved around completing practice questions’. Despite this heavy workload, Esdra received an ATAR score of 89.15. Now that’s reassuring.

Although you may be happy with the subject selection you’ve made so far, it’s always worth taking a second look at what they actually entail and make sure you’re able to handle the workload for an entire year.

'I was motivated to study as I wanted my results to reflect my love for the subjects.'

Zoe Tilley,
Bachelor of Arts student, Deakin University

Consider the value of marking up or down

the temptation to choose subjects that are heavily scaled up often feels like an offer too good to refuse… until you find yourself feeling weighed down by this decision.

This is a scenario that most Year 12’s know too well, Zoe explains: ‘Many students believe that choosing subjects that mark-up is the best way to go, regardless of whether the subject interests them.’

However, keep in mind that if you’re struggling through subjects you either hate or find extremely difficult, you run the risk of under-performing – which could cancel out the mark-up value you receive at the end of the year.

Although you maybe be feeling the pressure now to choose the ‘perfect’ subjects, it is so important to remember that the choices you make now are not the last chance you’ll have to shape your future career path. Enjoy the year ahead, and always remember that Year 12 is not the be-all and end-all.

While you’re planning your Year 12 subjects, now’s a great time to start researching where they’ll lead you. If you’re still exploring your options, try Deakin’s Explore tool for inspiration. Or, browse courses now.


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