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5 things you need to know about choosing electives

Choosing electives

Wondering what electives you should choose for Year 11 and 12 but don’t know where to start?

Totally understandable! With so many subjects to pick from, this process can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’ve got you! From working with your strengths to considering the future, here are five things you need to know about choosing electives.

1. Do what you love

This is the best place to start when you choosing electives. What are you passionate about? And what are you good at? You’ll be spending hundreds of hours studying these subjects (plus, think about all the homework and assignments that you’ll have to work on at home!) so enjoying what you’re learning about is a bit of a no-brainer, right? Extra bonus – you’re more likely to do well in subjects you like, rather than ones you struggle with or find a bit snoozy. And FYI, choosing electives you don’t like, but you’ve heard scale well, isn’t an awesome idea. You’ll waste a lot of time getting motivated to study and a lot of energy trying to get across the curriculum. This might lead to a burnout. Sticking with what you love is the right way to go, and will give you a higher chance of success.

Following and studying what you love may also help you discover your STEM + X, where ‘X’ is your passion. Maybe your future STEM career involves combining tech with fashion? Textiles and Design would be an amazing elective for this. Or if maths and sport are your faves, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (and its equivalents) could give you an edge.

2. Gaze into the future

If your future path involves university, TAFE or vocational education and training (VET), you should know that degrees, diplomas, certificates, and traineeships usually come with prerequisites or assumed knowledge. Before you choose your electives, look up all the deets on your dream course to see if they have any recommended knowledge. Studying these subjects in Year 11 and 12 will help you out big time – think of it like a head start.

Assumed knowledge examples for STEM degrees:

3. Consider major works

A bunch of Year 11 and 12 electives (like Visual Arts, Society & Culture, Extension English 2, Drama and Industrial Technology) have major works attached to them. These include performances, artworks, research projects and long essays. They take up a lot of your time (especially at home), so think about how many you’re prepared to take on. One? Two? If you’re keen on multiple major works, suss out what each will involve before you sign up for those electives. On the plus side, major works prepare you for university life (if that’s where you’d like to continue your studies) with all the research you have to do, and they help sharpen your time management skills.

4. Understand how your ATAR is calculated

UAC has an awesome article on how your ATAR is calculated, including scaling that should be a must-read for everyone choosing their Year 11 and 12 electives.

It looks at typical scaling for the HSC, for example, and explains that courses that are done by a high number of achieving students are scaled upwards, while courses done by a higher number of students with average marks might be scaled down more.

Delve into the nitty-gritty of scaling on the UAC site.

5. It will all be okay

While electives are important, don’t stress out about them. There are so many alternative pathways into tertiary education, plus programs run by universities to help you catch up any assumed knowledge that you might have missed. This also means there are various paths into your dream career! As Dr Alan Finkel (Australia’s previous Chief Scientist) says, the days of your degree choice dictating your career path are over. “You might do science but pivot into business. You might do engineering but pivot into politics. You might do accounting but pivot into a job that hasn’t been invented yet.” You’re on a long journey with things changing all the time. Enjoy the ride and see where your passions and interests take you!


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2 Responses

    1. Thanks Darrell for pointing this out – we’ve updated the post with more recent information from UAC.

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