How to help your child choose their Year 12 subjects

Year 12 student choosing subjects

Is your teen unsure what subjects they should choose? Find out which Year 12 subjects would be the best for them and what to consider during subject selection.

One of the biggest hurdles your child will face during their high school years happens at HSC, VCE, QCE and SACE subject selection time. Choosing the right ones can determine how motivated they are and how well they’ll perform come final-year exams. From understanding the requirements of university courses to identifying your child’s strengths and interests, here’s everything you need to know to help them choose wisely.

What you should know about Year 12 scaling

First, let’s bust some myths. Chances are you’ve heard theories about scaling. Do the hardest subjects guarantee a better ATAR? Do the most popular subjects lead to a lower ATAR? And why scale anyway?

The concept of scaling for UAC, VTAC, QTAC and SATAC is to standardise the raw marks that students receive in their Year 12 exams. Scaling ensures that students who study more difficult subjects are not unfairly disadvantaged when compared to those that are taking easier subjects.

The takeaway? No matter which subjects your child selects, it’s entirely possible to earn high marks in Year 12. They’re more likely to excel if they choose subjects they’re actually interested in, not because they “scale well”. There’s no use choosing 4 Unit Maths if they dread numbers.

Six questions to guide your teen towards the right Year 12 subjects

What are your passions?

When your teen is interested, they’re more likely to stay motivated – and that’s what will get them through their final two years at school. Knowing what topics they like – and loathe – can guide them towards choosing subjects they will enjoy – and excel at.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

In the same vein, choosing subjects that align with your teen’s strengths can give them a leg up. Identifying their expertise and areas for improvement will help them pick subjects based on confidence and competency. With this approach, you can likely expect better engagement and performance.

What are your career aspirations?

They don’t have to pinpoint an exact job, but knowing what path your teen is likely to take after school will help them identify what skills and knowledge will be relevant to their future – and which Year 12 subjects will build a strong foundation.

Year 12 student getting help with subject selection

Have you considered the prerequisites for your desired university course?

Making informed decisions now can impact your child’s academic pursuits after school. Some university degrees come with subject prerequisites and assumed or recommended knowledge requirements. If your child’s preferred degree does and they don’t study these subjects in Years 11 and 12, being accepted into their desired course can become more challenging.

Have you considered your workload?

Assessing the amount of work required for each subject can determine which ones your child should choose. For instance, students who select Design and Technology, Visual Arts or Society and Culture are required to complete major works or projects which contribute up to 50 per cent of their mark for that course. Typically, these subjects require extra hours of dedication, so they’ll want to factor this into your decisions.

Have you spoken to your teachers or career advisors about subject selection?

Your teen’s teachers will be able to offer valuable insights into their academic strengths as well as identify areas for potential growth. Plus, with their understanding of the Year 12 syllabus, they’re perfectly placed to match your child’s talents, interests and goals to subjects they’ll succeed in.

There are plenty of helpful resources to make the decision-making process easier. Study Work Grow’s Subject Selection Calculator tool will help your child get some great subject ideas to choose for Year 11 and 12.

Speaking of, attending university open days will give your teen a better understanding of the courses available, their prerequisites and the careers they lead to – which can impact their senior subject choices.

So, when it comes time to think about what Year 12 subjects to choose, encourage your teen to consider their strengths, passions and aspirations. Picking subjects they love and excel at will increase their chances of success in Year 12, make for a more fulfilling senior school experience – and shape their future.

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