It’s nearing the end of your school year and approaching that time when you have to submit your subject selection for next year. I agree, this time can be extremely daunting, especially if you aren’t 100% sure about what you are going to do after high school. In this article, I’m going to go through the logistics and all of the options available to you to provide you with some clarity. It’s really important that you pick the best subjects for you, so let’s dive into how to do this!
What are credits? How many do I need?
SACE credits are essentially a point system that SACE use to determine your eligibility for receiving an ATAR. Each of your subjects are worth either 10 or 20 credits, and at the end of SACE stage 2, you should have at least 200 credits in total to be eligible for an ATAR.
Keep in mind that at least 60 should be attained in stage 2, and the rest can be completed throughout year 10 to year 12. A semester-long stage 1 subject is normally worth 10 credits, whereas a stage 2 subject is worth 20 credits as you will complete them throughout the full year. Compulsory subjects make up 50 of your 200 total credits, while student-selected subjects make up the remaining 150 credits. As SACE give you large flexibility with what you can study, let’s take a look at this selection process.
Which subjects do I have to take? Which ones should I take?
In SACE, you will have to complete certain subjects in SACE stage 1 to make up the compulsory 50 credits. For example, you will have to complete 20 credits of a literacy subject which is typically English, and 10 credits of a numeracy subject which usually is a math subject, whether that be general or math methods. On top of that, the required subjects also include 10 credits for the personal learning plan and 10 credits for the research project. In summary, you will be required to complete a maths subject for one semester in stage 1, as well as an English subject for a full year in stage 1. The personal learning plan is normally completed in year 10 and the research project will be completed in either year 11 or 12 depending on your school.
When it comes to subject selection for the remaining 150 credits, you will most likely hear from your teachers that you should pick the subjects you enjoy and are good at. However, while learning about how ATARs are calculated, you may hear about subject scaling and how this affects subjects more than others. There was definitely this idea in my peer's minds’ that ‘harder’ subjects scale significantly more than ‘easier’ subjects. Personally, this impacted my thinking in years 10 and 11 when picking subjects for the year ahead. Looking back in hindsight, it’s best to pick your favourite subjects and avoid thinking about scaling. This way, you will have much more motivation when sitting down and completing your homework.
Is it better to go broad or specialise from the get-go?
Whether you choose to pick subjects all in a similar field or go more general is completely up to you. It all depends on your plans after school. For example, does the university course you are interested in have prerequisite or recommended subjects? There are some subjects you need to complete in SACE stage 1 for you to do them in stage 2. It is best to do some research so that you are fully aware before finalising your subject selections. If you have a clear idea about your pathway after year 12, I would look at what your university course focuses on in its first year.
For instance, if your course looks at anatomy and physiology in its first semester, I would strongly recommend studying subjects such as biology and chemistry in years 11 and 12 so that you have a more solid understanding of what to expect at university. However, if you are still exploring your post-school options, I would recommend subjects such as English, maths, a creative subject, and a science subject. Pathway planning days, offered by some schools, are extremely beneficial in helping you find some clarity and guidance when picking subjects.
I hate the subject I’m doing! Can I switch out?
Yes absolutely! I would speak to your school's SACE coordinator ASAP to get you switched out of the topic and into one that you will enjoy much more. The sooner you get it sorted out, the less content you will miss in the subject you will move into!
How does a VET course work with school?
VET courses are extremely useful during school as they give you hands-on experience in your area of interest. There are heaps to choose from and your school’s SACE or VET coordinator can help you when finding one for you. You are still able to work toward SACE credits through these like any school subject. These courses normally run at school time, so you may miss out on your other subjects. For this reason, it is important to inform your school teachers that you are undertaking a VET course as you will need to have a catch-up on course content at the end of each week.
Help! I don’t know what I want to do!
Subject selection can be extremely stressful especially if you aren’t sure what to do out of school and don’t want to limit your options. The main takeaway from this article is that you should pick the subjects you most enjoy and are best at. Doing the ‘easier’ subjects will not stop you from getting a high ATAR, and doing ‘harder’ subjects will not guarantee you a high ATAR.
During this time, I would explore all of your options, whether that be university, TAFE, an apprenticeship or gap year, and reflect on your interests and skills. If you need any help during this time, find your best local SACE tutor at, we are always happy to help!
Written by KIS Academics Tutor for SACE English, Biology and Psychology, Charlotte Kenning. Charlotte is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Speech Pathology at Flinders University and has received stellar reviews from her past KIS Academics students. You can view Charlotte's profile here and request her as a tutor.