How to Choose the Right Subjects for the HSC

Deciding which subjects to study for the HSC can be challenging. Not only do HSC results determine your ATAR for university admission, but many university courses have prerequisite subjects.

If you don’t plan to go to university, you still need to choose subjects which will give you a foundation for further study and enhance your job prospects. 

To help you decide which subjects to study for the HSC, ask yourself these three questions: 

What do you enjoy?

Learning should be interesting and enriching, not boring and difficult. You will also perform better in subjects you enjoy. Students often make the mistake of selecting advanced subjects because they believe they will get better marks due to scaling. If you perform poorly in a high scaling subject the result will still reflect this.

Other common mistakes students make include choosing subjects because they are considered easy, because friends are doing the course or because they like the teacher. 

The knowledge you gain through a subject will stay with you long after your memory of who you sat next to in class or who taught it has faded. The purpose of education is to help you grow, so it’s important to choose subjects that inspire you. 

What Are You Good At?

There is usually an overlap between the subjects you enjoy and those you are good at. If you’re not sure about your strengths and weaknesses, ask your teachers for advice. 

Most schools run subject information sessions where you can ask questions about the requirements and assessments to help you work out which subjects are most suitable for you.

What Career Would You Like to Pursue?

Career choice should stem from your interests and abilities. It’s a great idea to see a careers counsellor before deciding which subjects to study. You can also attend university information sessions and make use of the services for prospective students to find out more.

At this stage in life, nothing is set in stone and if you change your mind about what you want to do halfway through the HSC, don’t panic, there are plenty of other pathways to the course or career you want.

Things to consider

  • If there’s a subject you really want to study but your school doesn’t offer it, you may be able to study it through a VET courses that counts towards your ATAR.
  • Most schools will allow you to change subjects in the first weeks if you feel you’ve made a mistake.
  • As only 10 units are required for the HSC, there is leeway to drop a subject you don’t enjoy or are not performing well in. 
  • Maths is not compulsory for the HSC, but the skills gained are very beneficial. The University of Sydney has made maths compulsory from 2019 for some non-related degrees.
  • You don’t have to choose between STEM and arts subjects. Taking a mixture will give you a well-rounded education and this keeps your options open.
  • Prerequisite subjects for degrees are compulsory, but Assumed Knowledge is beneficial but not essential. 

These guidelines will help you choose the right HSC subjects for you.

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