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Author Topic: Glasses' Guide to VCE Subject Selection  (Read 4016 times)  Share 

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Glasses' Guide to VCE Subject Selection
« on: July 20, 2016, 11:07:21 pm »
As is common around this time of year, a number of posts have surfaced regarding subject selection - so I thought I'd try to lend present and future students a hand by offering whatever guidance I can, with regards to subject selection (although this guide definitely isn't infallible!)

Please NOTE: Everything below is based on my opinion alone, so obviously other individuals and groups will have differing beliefs.

Firstly, I’ve written this with the assumption that the reader understands how VCE works (i.e. – how many subjects must be completed, how English is compulsory, etc.) and again, this is just a general guide and each individual’s circumstances should and will vary; so please do not substitute this guide for professional careers/VCE advice.

I have formatted this guide in a way that shows what I believe one’s priorities and considerations should be, when selecting VCE subjects.

Priority/Consideration 1 – Prerequisite Subjects
So as I’d assume most people understand, different universities and different courses have a number of prerequisite subjects (and accompanied study scores) that need to be completed and obtained in order to gain access into said course. Accordingly, it is critical that you check out the prerequisite subjects for courses that you may be interested in, before selecting your VCE subjects – because otherwise, you will not gain entry into a course with a prerequisite subject and/or score, unless you compete the subject at the necessary level (i.e. – a particular study score, or simply the satisfactory completion of the subject).

Here are some examples to aid understanding:
Example 1: The University of Melbourne’s Bachelor of Biomedicine requires that students obtain a study score of at least 25 in English/English Language/Literature, or at least a 30 in EAL (as is common – as English is a compulsory subject anyway), in addition to a study score of 25 in Chemistry, and in Maths Methods or Specialist Maths.
Example 2: Monash University’s Bachelor of Education requires that students obtain a study score of at least 30 in EAL, or 25 in any other English. Additionally, the course also requires that students satisfactorily complete units ½ and/or ¾ of any VCE Maths.

But basically, this means that it is vital that students complete (and obtain the necessary scores in) prerequisite subjects, because otherwise, they simply will not gain admission into the course which requires said subject(s). – So look this up beforehand!

Priority/Consideration 2 – Enjoyable Subjects vs. Subject Scaling
As almost all past and present VCE students would say, VCE requires a fairly significant degree of effort and time, especially for those students aiming for top-end results. With this mind, it can then be assumed that a lot of study needs to be completed outside of school, for each of one’s subjects. Therefore, it is critical that you select subjects that are enjoyable and interesting to you – as by completing subjects that you genuinely like, you will come to find that all of the studying that you do is not so much a chore, but something you don’t mind or perhaps even enjoy doing. Accordingly, you will feel more motivated to study, will maintain a higher degree of focus while studying, and will not so much mind the extensive amounts of time spent studying, than if you were to complete subjects that you absolutely loathe and cannot stand.

Despite this, many students still tend to select subjects based on subject scaling, rather than those, which they legitimately believe, they’ll enjoy. (However, I should note that there is nothing wrong with completing subjects that are scaled up if you believe you’ll enjoy said subject, will be good at it, or if it is a prerequisite for a particular course that you’re interested in [see first point]). Nevertheless, completing a certain subject primarily or only because it scales up can be significantly detrimental – for example:

-   Bob decides to study Health and Human Development, despite the fact that it scales down a bit, because he has looked through the HHD study design and feels like he’ll really enjoy the subject. Consequently, Bob consistently studies for this subject throughout year 12, and comes to find that he enjoys studying for Health and Human Development because he finds the content extremely interesting. Due to this, Bob finds that he is able to adequately understand and apply the HHD content that he has learned, and this is reflected in his end-of-year exam and SAC results. Ultimately, Bob achieves a raw study score of 48, which scales down to a study score of 47.2 In contrast…

-   Sally decides to study Biology in year 12, despite the fact that she doesn’t really find science subjects interesting, but mainly because she has been told that biology scales up. Throughout the year, Sally finds it difficult to pay attention in class, and finds that she is constantly procrastinating when she needs to study, because she dreads studying for Biology – a subject that she doesn’t at all find interesting. Due to this, Sally finds that she performs rather poorly on SACs and doesn’t feel confident with her performance in her end-of-year Biology exam, because she failed to sufficiently and constantly study for this subject throughout the year. Ultimately, Sally achieves a raw study score of 33, which scales up to a 34. Sally is now sad.
Now lets compare Bob and Sally – Bob, who completed a subject he enjoyed and liked studying for, obtained an adjusted study score of 47.2; whilst Sally, who completed a subject that she didn’t enjoy, but took because the subject scaled up, obtained an adjusted study score of 34. Basically, the point here is that selecting your subjects, based on subject scaling, can be extremely costly and silly – so I highly recommend you do not do it! On the contrary, picking subjects that you will enjoy is very smart and beneficial in the long-run, so I highlight recommend you do this!!

It is also worth mentioning that with subjects that statistically scale down, when a student obtains a high raw study score, scaling tends to become irrelevant to them and there raw study score remains as they final study score, or is lowered by something like 0.5.

Priority/Consideration 3 – Strengths vs. Weaknesses
As you are likely to have worked out by this point in your life, there are subjects, which you are just naturally good at, and some, which you aren’t so good at. Therefore, although it shouldn’t carry a major weighting in your subject selection, it is still relatively important to consider what subjects you tend to excel at, and those you are more average or below average at. For example, a student who has always excelled at maths and science subjects should consider which subjects would reflect their strengths, such as chemistry and methods, when selecting their VCE subjects. Now, this is not to say that they should do all science/maths subjects, or shouldn’t do humanities subjects (for instance), but if they’ve tended to be pretty bad at humanities subjects (by their standards) in the past, it’s probably going to be a bad idea to select a heap of subjects like history, geography, philosophy, sociology, etc., as these are unlikely to reflect their strengths.

However, that being said, I want to stress the fact that there is nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit, and challenging yourself subject-wise, (in fact I’d recommend this, as it can help you stay motivated and interested in school), but it probably isn’t the best idea to completely neglect your strengths and weaknesses, and deem them irrelevant, when selecting your VCE subjects (especially when your main priority is achieving a high ATAR).

DOs and DON'Ts for Subject Selection
•   Look up subject study designs, textbooks and past exams.
•   Consider your strengths and weaknesses.
•   Select subject you think you’ll enjoy.
•   Consider studying via correspondence (e.g. – the Distance Education Centre of Victoria or the Victorian School of Languages) if your school doesn’t offer a subject you’d like to complete.
•   Talk to careers counsellors.
•   Look up the prerequisite subjects for courses you are interested in.
•   Talk to pass students about their experiences.
•   Check out the ATARNotes subject boards to see what people say about subjects.

•   Pick subjects based on subject scaling.
•   Ignore your strengths and weaknesses.
•   Pick subjects based on what your friends are doing.
•   Pick subjects based on what other people (such as parents) want you to do, particularly if you really don’t want to do a particular subject or follow a particular career path.
•   Pick subjects that you think you’ll hate.

To be continued...

If you have anything that you'd like to contribute, or if there are any mistakes I've made, please feel free to post them here and/or PM me!!

« Last Edit: November 15, 2016, 08:36:58 pm by Glasses »
2015 - 2016 (VCE): Psychology, Religion & Society, Legal Studies, Business Management, Literature and English
2017 - Present: Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Arts (Criminology & Psychology) @ Monash University

Aug 2016 - Sep 2018: VIC State Moderator