As Year 10 students, university and even Year 12 can feel like a lifetime away. But the choices you make in your subject selection in Year 10 for your HSC course, will set you up a long way in reaching your goals.

The following tips are to help you choose your subjects as you enter the final stages of your schooling journey. These tips are also useful for parents to help guide your children through this uncertain journey.

  1. Choose Subjects that you are good at or enjoy

For the first time in your schooling journey you have a choice as to what subject you want to complete (apart from English – its compulsory), so you can choose subjects that you are good at or enjoy. Even within those subjects you can choose different levels to tailor your learning interests.

2. Choose Subjects you may need as Pre-requisites for your Preferred University Course  

It may feel like university is very far away, but may universities require certain HSC subjects as pre-requisites for certain degrees. So, if you have an idea of what degree or area you want to study at university, check the pre-requisites, if there are any, and make sure that the subjects you pick meet those requirements. You can search courses at UAC: https://uac.edu.au/.

3. Choose Subjects according to your ability

Don’t choose subjects because you think it will give you a better ATAR – be realistic and choose subjects you can do well in.

4. Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) is a rank NOT a mark

Don’t fall into the trap that the ATAR is a mark – it’s a rank. It ranks you against all the other Year 12 students in Australia.   

5. Make sure you are ATAR Eligible

Ensure that subjects you pick will allow you to receive an ATAR after Year 12. Some subjects don’t contribute to your ATAR, and may mean you have less ATAR eligible units than you need. Be sure to speak to your Careers Advisor at school to confirm if the subjects you are picking will give you an ATAR at the end of Year 12.

6. Universities may increase your Selection Rank if you do well at certain Subjects

Universities may increase your selection rank*, used to compare students applying at university, if you perform well in a particular HSC subject. So, try to get those extra marks and push yourself at school! But remember this is dependent on the degree, university and subject(s) you complete. Some universities, degrees or subjects are not eligible for increases in selection rank, particularly if it is a lower level course. Head to UAC or the university’s website to find out if your selection rank will increase if you excel in a particular HSC subject.

7. If you are not sure what level of Mathematics or English to take, choose the level that suits your ability and future plans best

It’s important to choose the level of English and Maths based on your ability, so that you are able to excel, or based on your future plans so that the subject can help you in your university endeavours.

8. Try and push yourself to get Higher Marks

Roughly speaking, if you get marks of around 70 in your HSC subjects, you may end up with an ATAR in the 50s, but if you get marks closer to 80, you can get an ATAR closer to 80. This is because most students’ marks are in the range of 70 to 80, and when these students are ranked it really spreads out. Make sure that you work hard to get your marks as high as possible because every mark counts in getting a better ATAR.

9. To maximise your ATAR you have to Work Hard

Every little mark counts, so establishing good study habits and working to the best of your ability, will ensure that you can get the highest possible ATAR to achieve your university dream.

*Selection Rank: Your selection rank takes into account all the criteria you are required to meet in order to gain entry to a course. As a Year 12 student, your selection rank is usually your ATAR plus any adjustment factors for which you are eligible, such as doing well in an HSC subject, portfolio marks or interviews.