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#### heids

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« on: August 08, 2015, 07:02:21 pm »
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Choosing subjects is hard.  Hoping this wordy guide can help you just a bit

Anyone finding errors or with literally any suggestions, please throw them at me - I will dedicate a special PM of thanks to you.

tl;dr of this post:
> don't pick based on scaling, your parents or friends
> before choosing, consider your interests and strengths
> check that you fulfil any possible uni prereqs, and consider choosing subjects related to possible careers/courses of interest
> research each subject thoroughly (look at the VCAA subject pages, ask teachers/friends, and read the subject reviews below if we have one for your subject), and then match with your interests/strengths
> ultimately this isn't the hugest life decision; you can't know everything beforehand about the subjects you choose, so once you've chosen, make the best of what you've got

Basic information about how subjects and scores work
If you already know very basically how ATARs and study scores are calculated, skip this section!

Each subject is intended to take two years (generally, year 11 and 12), and has four units: 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Each unit is one semester of work.  Units 1 and 2 aren’t assessed by VCAA and don’t contribute to your final subject score; you don’t actually need to do them, but they generally provide a good foundation for Units 3 and 4.  You MUST do both Units 3 and 4 together.  You need at least 4 3/4 subjects, one of which must be an English (English, Literature or English Language).

For each Unit 3/4 subject you do, you’ll receive a final number called your study score, between 0 and 50.

This number is based on your scores in:
> SACs (School-Assessed Coursework): assessments your school organises and marks throughout the year (VCAA then modifies them, attempting to equalise between schools)
> the VCAA exam, where everyone sits the same externally marked exam
> (and in arts subjects) the SAT: a school-assessed task; the school assesses a product which you design and create.

Different subjects are calculated differently, and it all gets very confusing.  Just know that VCAA plugs a huge bunch of numbers into a big whirly machine that spits out a final number, and then just do your best.

Study scores are a bell curve, with 30 as the mean.  So, in any one subject:
• ~93% of people get 20 or over
• 25+ - 79%
• 30+ - 53%
• 35+ - 26%
• 40+ - 9%
• 45+ - 2%

This score is the ‘raw’ score; it is then turned into a ‘scaled score’ (a few points added or taken away) based on how competitive the subject and cohort are.  For instance, Specialist Maths scales up to compensate for the fact that it’s harder (and picked by people with a higher average IQ) than, say, Health.

They take these scaled scores to make your aggregate.  Your English-subject's score is added to your top 3 other scores, plus 10% of the next two scores (if you do 5+ subjects).

Then your ATAR is how your aggregate compares to others.  If you get a 77.00, for instance, your aggregate was higher than 77% of people doing VCE.

How to pick subjects
Pick subjects based on:
•   What you’re thinking of doing at Uni
•   Any pre-requisites you might need to for Uni courses
•   Laziness (ie pick easy subjects )

Do NOT pick subjects based on:
•   Scaling
•   The fact that they sound prestigious, or are part of the Asian Five, or your parents want you to do them
•   What your friends are doing

Explanation

Think to the future
Before choosing subjects, do consider what you’re interested in doing long-term.  First check for prerequisites for ALL courses that are on your radar – if you don’t fulfil a prereq, you probably won’t be able to do your dream course even if you get the ATAR.

Then look at your possible careers.  If you’re interested in commerce, pick economics or accounting; or if you’re considering law, do legal studies.   If you have a few ideas, try to broadly taste everything.  VCE is your chance to get a taste for what various fields are like, so you can decide if they’re for you or not.  VCE subjects will also prepare you with the basic skills you need for related first-year Uni courses, making first year easier.

Consider your skills and what you enjoy
Sit down and think what you’re good at, and what stuff you enjoy doing.  Ask teachers, parents and friends for their opinions of your strengths.  If you’re hopeless at essay writing, don’t take humanities subjects or two Englishes; if you and maths don’t go well together, don’t take two maths.  Play by your strengths – look at where you perform well, and go with subjects like that.

Similarly, if you hate a subject, you’ll not only get a poorer score in that subject because you’ll procrastinate, but the stress and frustration will have a flow-on effect to your other subjects and how much you enjoy the year as a whole.  Picking a subject you’ll at least somewhat enjoy will both improve your score and your enjoyment of the year.

Scaling and prestige
The scaling (or Asian-Five-ness) should not be the reason why you choose a subject.

Remember, scaling aims to balance it all out.  If you have ‘equal’ skill levels in the two subjects, and spend the same amount of time on each, you will probably get a much lower raw score in an up-scaling subject than a down-scaling subject, and theoretically scaling will make them equal.  (I do confess that the harsh scaling on Arts subjects is just plain mean and unfair.)

But this ignores the fact that the subject that scales down may better match your strengths and enjoyments.  If that’s the case, you’ll end up doing better in the subject, ever after scaling.  Case study: in HHD, I’m certain I got a far better scaled score than I could have got if I did Specialist or Latin.  I did well because: I enjoyed it; it matched with my strengths; it’s overall an ‘easier’ subject; and there’s little competition.

You can get 99+ ATARs with any combination of subjects (though 99.95 requires subjects that scale over 50).  There's nothing wrong with up-scaling subjects, just the scaling itself should not be (or even influence) the reason.  LOTEs being an exception - the scaling is ultra-worth-it if you already know the language decently enough.

Research
Once you’ve gone through and listed out your strengths and interests, it’s time to match them up with the subjects you have available!  Don't just fly in blind.

For each subject on your shortlist, check out the VCAA subject page.  You can read the Study Design, but first try the simpler Study Summary document, the last document under ‘Curriculum’ in each subject page.  Also skim a few past exams to see what sort of questions they ask, and check the question format (MC, short answer, extended response, essays, solving maths problems, etc) to see if it’ll match your strengths.  Ask teachers/anyone who's done the subject what the subject involves, or feel free to post in these forums asking for a precis of the subjects you’re deciding between.

Hopefully this will provide a feel for what the subject’s about, so you can better compare it to your strengths and likes!

Also check out these subject reviews!

FAQs
Should I do a Unit 3/4 subject in year 11?
If possible, yes.  (Or two, even). See Year 12 subjects in Year 11: A guide to starting VCE early.

How many subjects should I do in total?
Case study: none of my family did year 11 3/4s.  I did 5 3/4 subjects in year 12.  Doing 5 + uni subject in year 12, one brother got exactly the same ATAR as me, and another got 0.05 above me.   Moral: whether you do 5 or 6 subjects total, you can get a similar ATAR; the extra workload balances out the extra 10% aggregate.

However, I’m a fan of doing more subjects, because more breadth gives you more opportunity to find out more about different fields.  So you’ll have more well-rounded knowledge, and may unexpectedly land on a passion which totally changes your career choice.

My recommendation, from best to worst (remembering it all balances out, so honestly don't stress too much!):
1.   2 3/4s in year 11 + 5 3/4s in year 12 (or 1 in year 10)
2.   1 + 5 or 2 + 4
3.   1 + 4, 0 + 5 or 0 + 6
4.   0 + 4.  Just don’t.
5.   0 + 0.  Probably should have put this first.  TAFE RULES THE WORLD!

My school doesn’t offer what I want.  Should I consider Distance Education?
I did one subject through DECV, and found it worked very smoothly.  If you really struggle with time management, organisation and self-motivation, you’ll probably find it very difficult (however, great practise for Uni).  But if you’re self-motivated, and really want to do a particular subject, definitely consider it, as the teachers do keep well in touch.  The fees are something like $400/unit if you go to a private school, or$80/unit for a public school.  Discuss your options with your VCE coordinator, but if you’re passionate about a subject, don’t miss your chance!

Can I swap subjects if I hate them and pick up 3/4s without 1/2s?
Depends on the subject, but in general, yes.   As a broad generalisation, it’s less likely to work with strongly skills-based subjects like Methods, Spesh or English, than content-based subjects.  But for most subjects – like Further, Psych, Biology, Business Management, Legal Studies, History Revs or HHD – you should be absolutely fine to pick up.  Just make sure that before the summer holidays you check with your teacher what knowledge is ‘assumed’ or in both 1/2 and 3/4, so you can learn it before the year starts.

Should I avoid rare subjects with few resources?
Non-mainstream subjects are, in some ways, far more difficult, because it can be hard to know what you’re even doing. If you have an awful teacher, it’s worse, because you often don’t have anywhere to go for help.  You’re much more ‘on your own’, so if you really need support, steer clear of this sort of subject.

However, remember everyone else is flying blind just like you, and ultimately the competition is far less fierce than really mainstream subjects.  Being forced to do your own research is challenging, rewarding, and plain fun.  And you don’t get spoon-fed, a great preparation for Uni.  I did the rare subject Texts and Traditions, and loved it.  I imagine you’re considering such subjects because you have a particular passion for them.  If that’s the case, do it.  DO IT.

I speak another language at home.  Should I do this subject?
If you know a second language fairly fluently, DO IT.  The scaling is brilliant and, if you’re very familiar with the language, you should find it relatively easy.

Which English subject(s) should I do?
The three subjects you can choose between are:
- English (or EAL)
- English Language
- Literature

Spoiler
Credits to Lauren for some of the background to this

English (or EAL if you meet the criteria)
This is most like what you do in high school English - it's the mainstream subject that most people of all abilities do.  It's entirely (except for one persuasive oral SAC) about writing essays, including:
- Text Response (where you answer an essay question about a book/film you've studied, analysing events, characters, quotes, literary devices, themes, structure etc.)
- A short creative piece about that text
- A language analysis, where you look at how people use language to persuade/manipulate others
- Comparative essay between two texts and the ways they present different values and ideas on a theme/topic

Goods about English include heaps of resources and that fact that heaps of people are doing it, including the borderline illiterate.

Lit
Quote from: literally lauren
for English nerds

In other words, it's about deep thinking, analysis, and excellent invention skills.  It's focused on closely analysing passages in particular texts, to look at how language creates meaning.

Pros: great fun if you are, as above, an 'English nerd' who loves inventing and analysing creatively.
Cons: more competitive, as you're competing against other English nerds, rather than the general populous.  If you hate deep analysis/creation of fancy ideas in a text with no basis, you'll hate Lit.

Eng Lang
If you're the science-y type, and hate airy-fairy fluffy-wuffy fancy-sounding vague inventions, this is more for you.  It's more about linguistics, how the language is used or structured.  You'll have to develop an understanding of why we use language the way we do, why we choose the words we do, and so on.

Pros: more clearly defined, more fun (my addition ), more scientific - great if you're a maths/science nerd
Cons: less room to move, so if you're the free thinking creative analytical type or want to get free of science and the syntax language, do Eng or Lit.

Which Maths subject(s) should I do?
There are, essentially, three maths subjects you should be considering for year 12.

If you've heard of this "Foundation Mathematics", and think that that's for you, that's fine - but make sure you're aware, it does not go on to year 12. Do NOT do Foundation for an ATAR boost, do Foundation because you cannot do General Maths, but still want to do some maths. Now, the three 3/4 subjects (with discussion on 1/2):

General Mathematics 1/2 / Further Mathematics 3/4:
Further is the easiest mathematics on this list - this doesn't mean it is easy, or that you will necessarily find it to be easy. For a lot of people, this level is quite difficult, and there are plenty examples of people doing methods, assuming they'll do well in Further and so not studying for it, then getting bad scores as a result.

I won't go into too much detail, but as a course pre-req, Further is sort of useless. Some courses will ask that you've done it, but I have yet to find any course that wants a specific course - and if they do want this, they'll also accept methods. (I've seen some cases where they accept methods 1/2 or further 3/4).

Mathematical Methods Units 1-4:
This is, in general, your safest option. A lot of courses (in particular, medicine, commerce and some science degrees, among others) require that you have done methods. Furthermore, methods has this history of being "super hard" and "only the cream of the crop can do it". Methods is definitely not easy, but that doesn't mean that it's hard. It's very doable if you put effort in and try to approach less like "apply formula blah" and more like "concept means thing".

Furthermore, methods 1/2 (minus area of study 4, prob/stats) is very similar to methods 3/4 - so if you can do decently in methods 1/2, you can very easily do methods 3/4.

Specialist Maths 1-4:
(NOTE: In previous years, units 1 and 2 of specialist didn't exist, and instead schools would suggest going from "advanced general maths" to specialist. From 2016, advanced general maths is not a thing, instead there actually is 1/2 specialist maths. HOWEVER, it's still completely irrelevant to specialist 3/4.)

THIS is the hard maths. In methods, you can get away with brute force and hard effort. For specialist, you do need to have an okay grasp at maths, or you very quickly get lost. The content is harder than methods, but there's also less of it. Furthermore, the exam questions for specialist end up nicer than the ones for methods, because comparatively the ideas in specialist are much more "complex" (bad pun for those doing spec)

However, specialist is *VERY* worth doing, particularly if you want to do a maths or engineering based degree. If you don't do specialist now, you will be playing catch-up later, so you may as well put in the hard yards. Also, nice scaling, who wouldn't want that?

Should I do specialist or further?
In principle, you should not pick something because it has good scaling... But, picture this:

You do Further, work really really hard, and get a 46. Decent score, yeah?
And in another dimension, you do specialist, work really really hard, get a 35. Not as nice, but it's specialist.

Now, here's the kicker - your scaled score is what contributes to your aggregate, not your raw. So, we scale those scores:
Further: 46----->45.2
Specialist: 35--->47

So, even though your raw score was worse in specialist, it very easily becomes a higher addition to your aggregate. And I'm talking similar workloads to get these two scores, btw - it's not as if you'd be putting more effort into specialist for this. Add on the fact that uni-wise, Further is very useless next to specialist, specialist seems like the obvious winning choice to me.
(obviously if specialist is beyond your skill-set, choose Further - but if you're tossing up between the two at all, this tells me you're capable of specialist).

Conclusion*
Don’t stress too much.  No subject will be exactly what you imagined – for better or for worse – and you’re sure to have some regrets no matter what.  Your interests and career goals are also sure to change over time.  But ultimately, it’s up to your attitude.  If you’ve picked a subject, commit yourself to enjoying it and getting the most out of it (even if that’s the decision not to pursue it for a career).  This should be your VCE motto:

No regrets.

*I had to make the headings colourful purely to include this beautiful new colour I discovered.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2015, 07:08:48 pm by bangali_lok »
VCE (2014): HHD, Bio, English, T&T, Methods

Uni (2021-24): Bachelor of Nursing @ Monash Clayton

Work: PCA in residential aged care

#### Orb

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• Posts: 1649
• Respect: +426
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2015, 08:17:56 pm »
0
Choosing subjects is hard.  Hoping this wordy guide can help you just a bit

Anyone finding errors or with literally any suggestions, please throw them at me - I will dedicate a special PM of thanks to you.

tl;dr of this post:
> don't pick based on scaling, your parents or friends
> before choosing, consider your interests and strengths
> check that you fulfil any possible uni prereqs, and consider choosing subjects related to possible careers/courses of interest
> research each subject thoroughly (look at the VCAA subject pages (esp the Study Summary documents and a couple of past exams), and ask teachers/friends), and then match with your interests/strengths
> ultimately this isn't the hugest life decision; you can't know everything beforehand about the subjects you choose, so once you've chosen, make the best of what you've got

Basic information about how subjects and scores work
If you already know very basically how ATARs and study scores are calculated, skip this section!

Each subject is intended to take two years (generally, year 11 and 12), and has four units: 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Each unit is one semester of work.  Units 1 and 2 aren’t assessed by VCAA and don’t contribute to your final subject score; you don’t actually need to do them, but they generally provide a good foundation for Units 3 and 4.  You MUST do both Units 3 and 4 together.  You need at least 4 3/4 subjects, one of which must be an English (English, Literature or English Language).

For each Unit 3/4 subject you do, you’ll receive a final number called your study score, between 0 and 50.

This number is based on your scores in:
> SACs (School-Assessed Coursework): assessments your school organises and marks throughout the year (VCAA then modifies them, attempting to equalise between schools)
> the VCAA exam, where everyone sits the same externally marked exam
> (and in arts subjects) the SAT: a school-assessed task; the school assesses a product which you design and create.

Different subjects are calculated differently, and it all gets very confusing.  Just know that VCAA plugs a huge bunch of numbers into a big whirly machine that spits out a final number, and then just do your best.

Study scores are a bell curve, with 30 as the mean.  So, in any one subject:
• ~93% of people get 20 or over
• 25+ - 79%
• 30+ - 53%
• 35+ - 26%
• 40+ - 9%
• 45+ - 2%

This score is the ‘raw’ score; it is then turned into a ‘scaled score’ (a few points added or taken away) based on how competitive the subject and cohort are.  For instance, Specialist Maths scales up to compensate for the fact that it’s harder (and picked by people with a higher average IQ) than, say, Health.

They take these scaled scores to make your aggregate, and add your English subject score (English, Eng Lang or Literature) to your top 3 other scores, plus 10% of the next two scores.

Then your ATAR is how your aggregate compares to others.  If you get a 77.00, for instance, your aggregate was higher than 77% of people doing VCE.

How to pick subjects
Pick subjects based on:
•   What you’re thinking of doing at Uni
•   Any pre-requisites you might need to for Uni courses
•   Laziness (ie pick easy subjects )

Do NOT pick subjects based on:
•   Scaling
•   The fact that they sound prestigious, or are part of the Asian Five, or your parents want you to do them
•   What your friends are doing

Explanation

Think to the future
Before choosing subjects, do consider what you’re interested in doing long-term.  First check for prerequisites for ALL courses that are on your radar – if you don’t fulfil a prereq, you probably won’t be able to do your dream course even if you get the ATAR.

Then look at your possible careers.  If you’re interested in commerce, pick economics or accounting; or if you’re considering law, do legal studies.   If you have a few ideas, try to broadly taste everything.  VCE is your chance to get a taste for what various fields are like, so you can decide if they’re for you or not.  VCE subjects will also prepare you with the basic skills you need for related first-year Uni courses, making first year easier.

Consider your skills and what you enjoy
Sit down and think what you’re good at, and what stuff you enjoy doing.  Ask teachers, parents and friends for their opinions of your strengths.  If you’re hopeless at essay writing, don’t take humanities subjects or two Englishes; if you and maths don’t go well together, don’t take two maths.  Play by your strengths – look at where you perform well, and go with subjects like that.

Similarly, if you hate a subject, you’ll not only get a poorer score in that subject because you’ll procrastinate, but the stress and frustration will have a flow-on effect to your other subjects and how much you enjoy the year as a whole.  Picking a subject you’ll at least somewhat enjoy will both improve your score and your enjoyment of the year.

Scaling and prestige
The scaling (or Asian-Five-ness) should not be the reason why you choose a subject.

Remember, scaling aims to balance it all out.  If you have ‘equal’ skill levels in the two subjects, and spend the same amount of time on each, you will probably get a much lower raw score in an up-scaling subject than a down-scaling subject, and theoretically scaling will make them equal.  (I do confess that the harsh scaling on Arts subjects is just plain mean and unfair.)

But this ignores the fact that the subject that scales down may better match your strengths and enjoyments.  If that’s the case, you’ll end up doing better in the subject, ever after scaling.  Case study: in HHD, I’m certain I got a far better scaled score than I could have got if I did Specialist or Latin.  I did well because: I enjoyed it; it matched with my strengths; it’s overall an ‘easier’ subject; and there’s little competition.

You can get 99+ ATARs with any combination of subjects (though 99.95 requires subjects that scale over 50).  There's nothing wrong with up-scaling subjects, just the scaling itself should not be (or even influence) the reason.

Research
Once you’ve gone through and listed out your strengths and interests, it’s time to match them up with the subjects you have available!  Don't just fly in blind.

For each subject on your shortlist, check out the VCAA subject page.  You can read the Study Design, but first try the simpler Study Summary document, the last document under ‘Curriculum’ in each subject page.  Also skim a few past exams to see what sort of questions they ask, and check the question format (MC, short answer, extended response, essays, solving maths problems, etc) to see if it’ll match your strengths.  Ask teachers/anyone who's done the subject what the subject involves, or feel free to post in these forums asking for a precis of the subjects you’re deciding between.

Hopefully this will provide a feel for what the subject’s about, so you can better compare it to your strengths and likes!

FAQs
Should I do a Unit 3/4 subject in year 11?
If possible, yes.  (Or two, even). See Year 12 subjects in Year 11: A guide to starting VCE early.

How many subjects should I do in total?
Case study: none of my family did year 11 3/4s.  I did 5 3/4 subjects in year 12.  Doing 5 + uni subject in year 12, one brother got exactly the same ATAR as me, and another got 0.05 above me.   Moral: whether you do 5 or 6 subjects total, you can get a similar ATAR; the extra workload balances out the extra 10% aggregate.

However, I’m a fan of doing more subjects, because more breadth gives you more opportunity to find out more about different fields.  So you’ll have more well-rounded knowledge, and may unexpectedly land on a passion which totally changes your career choice.

My recommendation, from best to worst (remembering it all balances out, so honestly don't stress too much!):
1.   2 3/4s in year 11 + 5 3/4s in year 12 (or 1 in year 10)
2.   1 + 5 or 2 + 4
3.   1 + 4, 0 + 5 or 0 + 6
4.   0 + 4.  Just don’t.
5.   0 + 0.  Probably should have put this first.  TAFE RULES THE WORLD!

My school doesn’t offer what I want.  Should I consider Distance Education?
I did one subject through DECV, and found it worked very smoothly.  If you really struggle with time management, organisation and self-motivation, you’ll probably find it very difficult (however, great practise for Uni).  But if you’re self-motivated, and really want to do a particular subject, definitely consider it, as the teachers do keep well in touch.  The fees are something like $400/unit if you go to a private school, or$80/unit for a public school.  Discuss your options with your VCE coordinator, but if you’re passionate about a subject, don’t miss your chance!

Can I swap subjects if I hate them and pick up 3/4s without 1/2s?
Depends on the subject, but in general, yes.   As a broad generalisation, it’s less likely to work with strongly skills-based subjects like Methods, Spesh or English, than content-based subjects.  But for most subjects – like Further, Psych, Biology, Business Management, Legal Studies, History Revs or HHD – you should be absolutely fine to pick up.  Just make sure that before the summer holidays you check with your teacher what knowledge is ‘assumed’ or in both 1/2 and 3/4, so you can learn it before the year starts.

Should I avoid rare subjects with few resources?
Non-mainstream subjects are, in some ways, far more difficult, because it can be hard to know what you’re even doing. If you have an awful teacher, it’s worse, because you often don’t have anywhere to go for help.  You’re much more ‘on your own’, so if you really need support, steer clear of this sort of subject.

However, remember everyone else is flying blind just like you, and ultimately the competition is far less fierce than really mainstream subjects.  Being forced to do your own research is challenging, rewarding, and plain fun.  And you don’t get spoon-fed, a great preparation for Uni.  I did the rare subject Texts and Traditions, and loved it.  I imagine you’re considering such subjects because you have a particular passion for them.  If that’s the case, do it.  DO IT.

I speak another language at home.  Should I do this subject?
If you know a second language fairly fluently, DO IT.  The scaling is brilliant and, if you’re very familiar with the language, you should find it relatively easy.

Which English subject(s) should I do?
Well, I’ll answer that… another day.

Which Maths subject(s) should I do?
Similarly.

Conclusion*
Don’t stress too much.  No subject will be exactly what you imagined – for better or for worse – and you’re sure to have some regrets no matter what.  Your interests and career goals are also sure to change over time.  But ultimately, it’s up to your attitude.  If you’ve picked a subject, commit yourself to enjoying it and getting the most out of it (even if that’s the decision not to pursue it for a career).  This should be your VCE motto:

No regrets.

*I had to make the headings colourful purely to include this beautiful new colour I discovered.

Great guide! (y)
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#### Zealous

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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2015, 08:04:43 pm »
+1
Nice guide! Lot of good information in it.

My recommendation, from best to worst (remembering it all balances out, so honestly don't stress too much!):
1.   2 3/4s in year 11 + 5 3/4s in year 12 (or 1 in year 10)
2.   1 + 5 or 2 + 4
3.   1 + 4, 0 + 5 or 0 + 6
4.   0 + 4.  Just don’t.
5.   0 + 0.  Probably should have put this first.  TAFE RULES THE WORLD!

I actually think the 1+5 or the 2+4 is better overall if you are certain of what subjects you enjoy and what you can score well in. This is mainly because the 7th subject won't count towards your ATAR in any way - it may just add unnecessary stress or consume time which could be used in more important areas (English). Just my opinion though.

Definitely agree with doing a 3/4 subject in Year 11 - even if it's not to score incredibly high, you will learn a lot about how the SACs work and how to prepare for a real VCAA exam - it's quite different from how schools run them internally. I also think 2 3/4 subjects is certainly doable in Year 11 and helps ease the workload by a huge amount when you hit Year 12. If you can get a score/s which you'll happily have in your top four, then Year 12 is not the huge beast that a lot of people perceive it to be.
vce:
2013: Further [50] (+Premier's) | Methods [48]
2014: Physics [50] | Specialist | Accounting | English Language || ATAR: 99.70 + Australian Student Prize!
uni:
2015: Bachelor of Commerce and Engineering (Honours)

#### anna.xo

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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2015, 08:11:00 pm »
0
Some schools don't let you do 2 3/4 subjects in school, so if that's the case, you might have to do a subject by distance education or a language school.
2014: VCE
2015: Bachelor of Nutrition Science @ Monash University

#### heids

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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2015, 08:29:30 pm »
0
Nice guide! Lot of good information in it.

I actually think the 1+5 or the 2+4 is better overall if you are certain of what subjects you enjoy and what you can score well in. This is mainly because the 7th subject won't count towards your ATAR in any way - it may just add unnecessary stress or consume time which could be used in more important areas (English). Just my opinion though.

Thanks

I can totally see your point; perhaps it's just a reaction from only doing 5 and not being allowed to do a 3/4 in y11 (and my wish that I could do another year, y'know with history and physics and chem and psych and pe and spesh and politics and the list is endless).  Scores-wise, perhaps 1+5/2+4 is better, but in terms of learning more broadly, I'd champion 7 subjects any day.  You probably have to sacrifice depth slightly - but I emphasise slightly - which may rob you of a killer score or two (like you might get 48 instead of 50!), however overall the more you study a subject, the less the returns, and I'd prefer breadth any day.

Especially since not everyone knows exactly what subjects they'll enjoy or score well in, and VCE subjects play a huge role in the process of figuring out a career.  Plus, it can be good to have an available bludge when you discover VCE Physics is just as Pi warned you.
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#### Splash-Tackle-Flail

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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2015, 08:42:48 pm »
0
Plus, it can be good to have an available bludge when you discover VCE Physics is just as Pi warned you.

Great guide (would have really been useful to me back when I was in year 10, with no idea what to do!)

Oh and yeah shoutout to that Physics review it was the reason I chose specialist math over Physics and now I have no regrets. At all.
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#### amyhere

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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2015, 06:33:04 am »
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Then your ATAR is how your aggregate compares to others.  If you get a 77.00, for instance, your aggregate was higher than 77% of people doing VCE.

Great guide!  This is being quite nit-picky but I'm just going to point out that this point here is not exactly correct.  The 77.00 would mean your aggregate was higher than 77% of your entire year level (at either year 7 or 9 or something like that, I can't exactly remember sorry!), including those who aren't completing their VCE.
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#### keltingmeith

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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2015, 08:11:15 am »
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Great guide!  This is being quite nit-picky but I'm just going to point out that this point here is not exactly correct.  The 77.00 would mean your aggregate was higher than 77% of your entire year level (at either year 7 or 9 or something like that, I can't exactly remember sorry!), including those who aren't completing their VCE.
That... Doesn't make sense. If they're not doing VCE, how can VCAA know their level of achievement to give them an ATAR in the first place/some other form of quantifiable achievement so they know that the 77.00 beat 77% of the cohort? (If that made sense... I'm tired. .__. )

EDIT: Forgot to add le comments on this brilliant post, will be back shortlyish with those.

#### heids

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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2015, 08:52:22 am »
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EDIT: Forgot to add le comments on this brilliant post, will be back shortlyish with those.
Thanks, I'm looking forward to any suggested improvements anyone can give

Btw, suddenly occurred to me that I forgot to think about uni subjects in the FAQs, but I don't know anything about them.  Can someone volunteer a Q&A on them, which I'll credit to you in the original post?  Much appreciated!
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#### keltingmeith

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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2015, 12:47:50 pm »
+4
But this ignores the fact that the subject that scales down may better match your strengths and enjoyments.  If that’s the case, you’ll end up doing better in the subject, ever after scaling.  Case study: in HHD, I’m certain I got a far better scaled score than I could have got if I did Specialist or Latin.  I did well because: I enjoyed it; it matched with my strengths; it’s overall an ‘easier’ subject; and there’s little competition.

More case study:
I did Japanese for the pure reason that I did 1/2 and nice scaling. Despite the fact that Japanese has 10+ scaling, it did not appear in my primary 4 because my actual score was that shit that even the scaling couldn't help it.

My school doesn’t offer what I want.  Should I consider Distance Education?
I did one subject through DECV, and found it worked very smoothly.  If you really struggle with time management, organisation and self-motivation, you’ll probably find it very difficult (however, great practise for Uni).  But if you’re self-motivated, and really want to do a particular subject, definitely consider it, as the teachers do keep well in touch.  The fees are something like $400/unit if you go to a private school, or$80/unit for a public school.  Discuss your options with your VCE coordinator, but if you’re passionate about a subject, don’t miss your chance!

I'd just like to stress discuss with your VCE coordinator first. I wanted to do a unit by distance, but later discovered my school wouldn't support my decision and I would've ended up highly disadvantaged had I not discussed it with them first.

Which Maths subject(s) should I do?
Similarly.

Let me help you out (particularly with changing study designs, not that I'm going into terribly much detail):

There are, essentially, three maths subjects you should be considering for year 12 - if you've heard of this "Foundation Mathematics", and think that that's for you, that's fine - but make sure you're aware, it does not go on to year 12. Do NOT do Foundation for an ATAR boost, do Foundation because you cannot do General Maths, but still want to do some maths. Now, the three 3/4 subjects (with discussion on 1/2):

General Mathematics 1/2 / Further Mathematics 3/4:
Further is the easiest mathematics on this list - this doesn't mean it is easy, or that you will necessarily find it to be easy. For a lot of people, this level is quite difficult, and there are plenty examples of people doing methods, assuming they'll do well in Further and so not studying for it, then getting bad scores as a result.

I won't go into too much detail, but as a course pre-req, Further is sort of useless. Some courses will ask that you've done it, but I have yet to find any course that wants a specific course - and if they do want this, they'll also accept methods. (I've seen some cases where they accept methods 1/2 or further 3/4).

Mathematical Methods Units 1-4:
This is, in general, your safest option. A lot of courses (in particular, medicine, commerce and some science degrees, among others) require that you have done methods. Furthermore, methods has this history of being "super hard" and "only the cream of the crop can do it". Methods is definitely not easy, but that doesn't mean that it's hard. It's very doable if you put effort in and try to approach less like "apply formula blah" and more like "concept means thing".

Furthermore, methods 1/2 (minus area of study 4, prob/stats) is very similar to methods 3/4 - so if you can do decently in methods 1/2, you can very easily do methods 3/4.

Specialist Maths 1-4:
(NOTE: In previous years, units 1 and 2 of specialist didn't exist, and instead schools would suggest going from "advanced general maths" to specialist. From 2016, advanced general maths is not a thing, instead there actually is 1/2 specialist maths. HOWEVER, it's still completely irrelevant to specialist 3/4. I will repeat this for anybody who skipped this note)

THIS is the hard maths. In methods, you can get away with brute force and hard effort. For specialist, you do need to have an okay grasp at maths, or you very quickly get lost. The content is harder than methods, but there's also less of it. Furthermore, the exam questions for specialist end up nicer than the ones for methods, because comparatively the ideas in specialist are much more "complex" (bad pun for those doing spec)

However, specialist is *VERY* worth doing, particularly if you want to do a maths or engineering based degree. If you don't do specialist now, you will be playing catch-up later, so you may as well put in the hard yards. Also, nice scaling, who wouldn't want that?

Should I do specialist or further?
Adding a separate section for this because it is the most asked thing ever on these forums.

In principle, you should not pick something because it has good scaling... But, picture this:

You do Further, work really really hard, and get a 46. Decent score, yeah?
And in another dimension, you do specialist, work really really hard, get a 35. Not as nice, but it's specialist.

Now, here's the kicker - your scaled score is what contributes to your aggregate, not your raw. So, we scale those scores:
Further: 46----->45.2
Specialist: 35--->47

So, even though your raw score was worse in specialist, it very easily becomes a higher addition to your aggregate. And I'm talking similar workloads to get these two scores, btw - it's not as if you'd be putting more effort into specialist for this. Add on the fact that uni-wise, Further is very useless next to specialist, specialist seems like the obvious winning choice to me.
(obviously if specialist is beyond your skill-set, choose Further - but if you're tossing up between the two at all, this tells me you're capable of specialist).

#### heids

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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2015, 02:47:05 pm »
+1
Let me help you out (particularly with changing study designs, not that I'm going into terribly much detail):

Thanks, I was actually going to get round to PM'ing you asking you to write that bit, so thanks for pre-empting it!  I put it in a spoiler because the sub-headings were the same as my question sub-headings so it mucked up formatting, hope that's okay.

Wondering if we could compile a section with summaries or reviews of major subjects (looking to new study designs of course, and going through their major content and stuff in a way that's more comprehensible than the study design); I could PM specific people asking for their help (only if they're willing) to write it for one subject.  Hopefully from people fairly balanced, hence I'd ask Zealous or someone for Physics, not pi .  Worth it or not?  Opinions anyone?  Is it expecting too much from busy people when it wouldn't be read anyway?

EDIT: Spesh scales that much?
I take back some of what I said about scaling.  I knew it scaled, but man...
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 02:56:34 pm by bangali_lok »
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#### MightyBeh

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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2015, 05:02:53 pm »
+1
Thanks, I was actually going to get round to PM'ing you asking you to write that bit, so thanks for pre-empting it!  I put it in a spoiler because the sub-headings were the same as my question sub-headings so it mucked up formatting, hope that's okay.

Wondering if we could compile a section with summaries or reviews of major subjects (looking to new study designs of course, and going through their major content and stuff in a way that's more comprehensible than the study design)

Opinions anyone?
I think that'd be really cool. Not sure about other people specifically, but my school did a terrible job of explaining what each subject was about - I'd even go as far as to say we were nearly on our own (Well, aside from this thing*, but as a year 10 with no knowledge of the technical jargon, it wasn't all that helpful.) and I would've loved to have the perspective of someone who'd done or was familiar with the subjects I was considering. I picked classes without really even being aware of what was covered, other than "computer stuff", '"Greek stuff", "Book stuff, you'll be great at this one, Beth" and "this is the hard maths, you'll love it" as quoted by one of my teachers a few days ( ) before we had to finalise our selections (luckily, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but that's not the point).

If it turns out to be a huge time commitment, maybe just the hugely popular ones, like the different maths, englishes and sciences? (Give or take a few, obviously. Business management and HHD seem pretty common)

*I swear if anyone actually reads that thing I'll eat my shoes
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#### amyhere

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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2015, 05:10:17 pm »
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That... Doesn't make sense. If they're not doing VCE, how can VCAA know their level of achievement to give them an ATAR in the first place/some other form of quantifiable achievement so they know that the 77.00 beat 77% of the cohort? (If that made sense... I'm tired. .__. )

EDIT: Forgot to add le comments on this brilliant post, will be back shortlyish with those.

They're not given an ATAR, but they are considered when determining the ATAR of VCE students.  They're automatically given the lowest ranks.  This is why the average ATAR doesn't end up being 50, but is actually closer to 68 (or somewhere in the sixties).
2013: Biology
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#### anna.xo

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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2015, 05:45:01 pm »
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if you can do decently in methods 1/2, you can very easily do methods 3/4

I have to disagree with this. From 1/2 to 3/4 was the biggest jump I have ever seen. The content was not that much different, admittedly, but the difficulty just shot straight through the roof. This subject is NOT as cruisy as everyone makes it out to be. The fact is, it's hard. Really hard. Just saying.
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