Study Advice

Tips for Choosing ATAR Subjects

By Moya Ellis - 7 minute read

Choosing your VCE or QCE subjects can seem like a big decision. Some people know straight away what subjects they're going to be doing, whilst others have absolutely no idea. Ultimately it's your decision as to what subjects you do but having said this, we have some tips to help you choose your subjects so you have a great year 11 and 12!

English Subjects:

Completing one English subject is compulsory so choosing which English subject you decide to do would be your first step in choosing your subjects. This subject is going to be in your top 4 so it is important that you choose the right one for you. Most people do mainstream English which is a great choice. The one downside is that you are competing against the majority of the state however the benefits are that you have way more resources on the internet available to you than you would receive if you did English Language or Literature. On Studyclix we actually have a lot of questions available for you to use to study! Literature is a good choice if you are very strong in English and confident in your skills. English Language would be suitable if you are interested in grammar and ways how the English language is constructed. 

Click here to watch a great video explaining the pros and cons of each VCE English subject!


It is so important to look at the prerequisites you need for the university courses you're interested in. Even if there's a university course on your list that you aren't sure if you are 100% interested in, still ensure you are doing the all the prerequisite subjects for that course, just in case you decide later on that you want to do that course. Each university will have on their website the prerequisites for each course so check them out to find more details. Make it your priority to do these subjects. 

The subjects you will be required to take in university:

For some university courses, you don't need certain subjects as prerequisites but you do need to do them in university. Most VCE and QCE subjects are at the level of 1st year university subjects so to make your university life easier, you should do the subjects that you will have to complete in university.

For example, I'm studying Psychology at university. In my course I learn Biology so it's beneficial for me to do both Psychology and Biology in VCE so I have a good understanding of the subjects walking into university. To find out what subjects you will most likely have to take in university, you can go onto the university's website and usually under the course it will have a course progression map where it will show what classes you will be required to teach each year. 

Subjects you are interested in:

Everyone says this but it's so true: do subjects which you enjoy! You are going to be doing these subjects for two full years. You need to be doing subjects that will keep you motivated to study to ensure success. Also people tend to do better at subjects which they enjoy because naturally they will put more time into it. Even if the subjects you are interested in scale down, it's still worth doing them because you could end up with a high mark even with the mark down.

I personally did mostly humanities based subjects which scaled down but I really enjoyed doing them which allowed me to do very well and way better than I would've done if I were to have done all maths and sciences. If you aren't interested in a subject you probably won't do well in it because you won't study as hard. Personally, my top subject was the one that I enjoyed the most and my bottom subject was the one which I really did not like. Unless you need a certain subject as a prerequisite, don't do any subject that you don't enjoy. 

Look at what subjects you're school typically does well in:

If you are aiming for a high ATAR, you may find it helpful to do subjects which your school typically does well in. A lot of schools are known to do well in certain subjects and some schools actually post their average study scores for each subject online. I'd check out what subjects your school excels in and if you are interested in the subjects, then do them. Looking at your school's average marks for certain subjects can be particularly helpful if you have too many subjects that you want to do. It's an easy way to decide which subjects to rule out or which ones you will most likely do better in. 

Remember though, if your school does not typically do well in a certain subject, it does not mean that you won't do well and vice versa! Take your school's average study scores with a grain of salt. 

Consider how time-consuming each subject will be:

Obviously all VCE and QCE subjects are going to take up a lot of time and you will need to study really hard for all of them. However there are certain subjects which are renowned for being extremely time-consuming and have a heavier workload than other subjects. You should ensure that if you are doing one of these subjects, that you are deeply invested in it. It is a big decision to make considering that you will detract time away from your other subjects by doing one really heavy content subject. With less work you will probably be able to get the same, if not better study score in a less time-consuming subject. This isn't to say not to do them but I am saying to really consider how much you enjoy the subject. 

Choosing a maths subject:

Most people decide to do some form of maths subjects. If you aren't good at maths, don't enjoy it and don't need it as a prerequisite for your university course, then don't do one. But for people who need it or are good at maths, it is important to choose the right one to suit you. Many courses such as Commerce or Medicine which require Methods as a prerequisite so you should take Methods if you need it to get into your course. However, if you have the option to do any maths subject, I'd consider weighing up whether you think you are capable of doing a higher stream of maths (such as Specialist or Methods) and if you think you would do better in it than in Further or General. In most cases, even though Specialist and Methods are a lot harder, people end up with higher marks because of scaling. So if you are capable of doing Methods or Specialist, I'd recomment picking one of them up. However Further or General is also are very good choices and many people do have a lot of success with it. You just have to be very good at not making silly mistakes in Further and General because it is very easy to loose marks. Also if you don't like maths but need one maths subjects as a prerequisite, then I'd recommend Further or General because you don't need to put as much time into it to get a decent mark. 


I hope these tips were helpful and make your life a little easier. Remember, choosing VCE or QCE subjects are very individualised and personal. Everyone is different and different subjects work for different people. 

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us!

The Studyclix Team