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Choosing Subjects 

A woman looks very happy after choosing the right subject for her

Prepare yourself for choosing school subjects by finding out about the information that you need to make informed decisions:

  • Senior secondary school
  • How to choose subjects that suit you
  • Who to talk to
  • Look back at your achievements
  • Build a picture of yourself
  • Connections between school subjects and career choices
  • Do you enjoy or are you good at..." bullseye posters
  • Achieving your goal
  • Additional information.

Senior Secondary School

Whether you live in the city, the country or a more remote place in Australia the school subjects you choose in year 11 and year 12 are a part of the ongoing career choices you will make.

The Senior Secondary Certificate of Education(SSCE) that can be attained in each of the states and territories in Australia prepares you to enter university, TAFE institutions and other formal training programs, the workplace and other life roles. The SSCE is titled differently in each of the states and territories.

Opportunities with Australian Apprenticeships is something you could be interested in investigating while you are still at school.

How to Choose Subjects That Suit You

When you move into the final two years of formal schooling it is important to choose subjects that:

  • enable you to work from your strengths
  • challenge you to make the most of your capabilities
  • provide you with the qualification that you need to pursue you career and ambitions after you leave school
  • you enjoy studying
  • offer a range of study that is manageable (ie think about choosing a balance between theoretical and practical subjects)
  • provide life skills
  • are your choice and not the choices of others.

Who to Talk to

The course counsellor at your school will be able to give you career advice and advice about the subjects that you select in years 11 and 12. When you choose your subjects you will need to make sure that your choices match the ongoing career choices that you want to make. The course counsellor will be able to help you with information related to:

  • subjects required for entry to university
  • subjects related to careers/occupations
  • relevant subjects for post secondary courses at Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), International Accreditation & Recognition Council (IARC)for example along with TAFE and private providers.

There are other people apart from the course counsellor who you can use as resources to assist you to make informed decisions. They could include:

  • subject teachers
  • Indigenous education workers
  • parents
  • friends
  • lecturers/instructors at TAFE and universities
  • community agencies (eg job placement organisations, training providers)
  • students who are currently studying the subjects you are interested in
  • employers or people within an industry or organisation that interests you
  • role models or successful people in the career of your choice.

Look Back at Your Achievements

It will be important for you to think about your achievements and the choices you would like to make.

Look back at your achievements and analyse:

  • the subjects you have done well in, or not so well in
  • what your achievements tell you about your abilities (ie mechanical aptitude, verbal ability, numerical ability, commitment, enthusiasm).

Build a Picture of Yourself

Build a picture of yourself to help in your decision-making process by:

  • developing a profile of important strengths, abilities, skills, knowledge and interests that you have
  • looking at how your family and other people in your life are influencing your decisions
  • knowing the career field you are suited to and interested in.

My Guide will help you identify career fields by guiding you through activities to assist you explore your career direction.

When you visit My Guide it will be important to work through the Identifying, Exploring and Deciding sections in that order so that you can:

  • generate career ideas
  • explore the ideas that suit you
  • select and decide on the ideas that suit you.

If you already have a clear idea about the career direction you want to take then visiting The Facts section will provide you with information to explore the subjects associated with the occupations and career fields of interest to you.

You can locate occupations by searching for a specific occupation or by browsing through the list. Then click on: Courses

When you have completed your exploration look again at the subject choices you have made.

Connections between School Subjects and Career Choices

Look at the connections between choices in school subjects and career choices:

  • Identify and investigate areas of interest for possible work experience.
  • Investigate vocational options that can lead to choosing vocational pathways in upper/secondary school. Talk to the career counsellor or the vocational education and training (VET) coordinator in your school about undertaking VET certificates and enquire as to whether they are credited towards the Certificate of Education in your state or territory.

Don't forget that as you mature and find out more information it is likely that you will change your understanding about the choices you want to make. Your subject choices should be able to deliver you the broadest range of choices for further education and training and for meeting employer expectations.

You might also want to browse through the "Do you enjoy or are you good at..." bullseye posters from the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST).

Achieving Your Goal

Once you have made your decision look at actions that will support you to succeed in the subjects you have decided to study:

  • identify good study habits, environments and skills
  • investigate subjects available for the following school year
  • analyse your school reports so that you can monitor your progress.

Remember to talk to as many people as possible so that the decision you make about the subjects that you choose is one that you feel most comfortable about.

Additional Information

1. The SSCE title in each of the states and territories is:

  • New South Wales - Higher Education Certificate (HSC)
  • Victoria - Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)
  • Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)
  • Queensland - Senior Certificate
  • South Australia - South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)
  • Western Australia - WA Certificate of Education
  • Tasmania - Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE)
  • Northern Territory - Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE)
  • Australian Capital Territory - ACT Year 12 Certificate.

2. In some states and territories Australian Apprenticeships are known only as apprenticeships and traineeships.

3. The title course counsellor might be different depending on the state or territory that you live in; for example, careers counsellor, guidance officer and guidance counsellor.


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