Should I drop that subject?

Lauren Condon

Marketing Specialist at Atomi


min read

Subject selection going into year 12

You’ve hit year 12 and are probably going to be pretty familiar with ‘survival mode’ soon (if you aren’t already). That means your subjects and number of units are going to become a touchy subject because you don’t want to make your HSC harder than it needs to be or to be doing any extra work. The beginning of year 12 is the perfect time to think about your subject selection and make sure you’re sitting in the right position.

So to make it all a bit easier, here are just a few things to keep in mind before you make a subject change…

1. How many units will you have?

Well this is obviously the big question… There doesn’t seem to be any magical number of units that guarantees success but we all know that 14 units will give you a much bigger workload than you need and 10 units is pretty risky if you consider the possibility of totally bombing a subject. So of course every individual is different and you have to take that into consideration but if you are sitting somewhere between 11 and 13 units then you should be pretty sweet 👌 .

2. What subject are you dropping and why?

Next thing to think about is which subject you are dropping and why exactly you’re trying to ditch it. This is another pretty straightforward answer because if you have a subject that you don’t enjoy and that you don’t get very good marks in, this is the one to drop. It can get a little more confusing when you consider the other reasons that you might be tempted to drop a subject such as:

  • You really don’t like your teacher for that subject
  • You were disappointed by your year 11 final exam marks
  • You're worried it might not scale well

While these aren’t reasons to ignore completely, it’s worth checking that you aren’t overreacting. The bottom line is, if you enjoy a subject then you shouldn’t write it off too quickly. If you are seriously willing to work hard at it and explore plenty of ways to improve... then you will be okay.

3. Are you considering dropping down to a different level?

So, the other way to ‘drop’ a subject is to keep your number of units but just changing out to a different level of the same subject like, Advanced English to Standard English.

So this one is pretty interesting because it comes down to those age-old debates about which level is the best option. We’ve even tackled the whole General Maths vs Mathematics showdown before over here but the bottom line is that there is no magic answer that works for everyone. If you’re sitting in Advanced English or Mathematics and that subject is draining way too much of your time, you’re still getting a really low rank in assessments and you basically dread going to that class then yeah, that’s the time to think about dropping down.

If you are sitting comfortably in your subject then don’t drop down just because you think you’re going to hack the ‘scaling game’. It’s pretty much best for people to sit in the subject that matches their ability so stick to your guns here.

Bonus: Should I pick up that subject?

So then there are actually subjects you can pick up in year 12: Extension History, Extension II English and Extension II Mathematics. If you were considering these subjects then it’s pretty likely you’ve already signed up to them and have already started so there’s not much to say in terms of deciding whether to do it or not. The main thing to remember is that these subjects are classic examples of ‘not every subject is equal’.

Don’t get me wrong, I happened to take both Extension History and Extension II English in year 12 and they were my two favourite subjects but I should have been prepared for the heavy workload and remembered that just because they were only worth 1 unit, didn't mean they were half the work of the other subjects. Be super organised if you’re taking on one of those extra subjects and always stay on top of them 👍 .


Now is the time to have a seriously good think about your subject selection and make sure you are taking the right number and range of subjects for you. A lot of people are going to have a lot of advice here and while you should listen to them to a point, it really does come down to creating the best year 12 for yourself.


Published on

October 24, 2017

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