Should I do six year 12 subjects?

Extra subjects and your ATAR

How does completing 6 subjects in year 12 affect my ATAR?

Most students entering VCE often ask whether they should choose to do an additional subject in Year 12. Students usually complete five subjects in Year 12, which counts towards their ATAR. However, they can also complete an extra one or two subjects if they complete a Unit 3 and 4 subject in Year 11. There are many benefits to doing an additional subject; however, it won’t have much effect on your ATAR.

What does an extra year 12 subject do for my ATAR?

To understand the effect of an extra subject on your ATAR, you need to understand how ATAR is calculated. ATAR is based upon an aggregate score of the student’s scaled study scores in all their subjects. However, all the subjects that you do are not weighted the same. After your study scores are scaled, the aggregate score which forms your ATAR is based on the sum of your English scaled study score, and the highest three scaled study scores and 10% of the fifth and sixth study scores.

This aggregate is then used to rank students into percentage ranks which is converted to an ATAR score. From the calculation of an ATAR you may notice that whether you take on the additional load of an extra subject, only 10% of that scaled study score will form part of your aggregate score. For example, if you do six subjects instead of five subjects and your sixth score is 30, only 3 of the 30 marks will be used when calculating the aggregate. So, in reality, that sixth subject does not create an enormous impact on your ATAR.

Benefits of completing an extra subject.

Such experience will be invaluable in Year 12. Another reason is that doing an extra subject provides a backup plan. When your ATAR is calculated, English and your three best subjects make up the bulk of your score. If you do poorly on two subjects in any unfortunate circumstance, there is a chance it will not be counted entirely in your study score. As you have done six subjects as it will be counted as your fifth and sixth subjects instead. If you only did five subjects, one of the subjects you did poorly will have been entirely counted into the aggregate for ATAR.

Things to consider

Before you decide, you should ensure you can take on the responsibility of completing a Year 12 subject in Year 11. Many students fall into the habit of prioritising the Year 12 subject and overlook all other Year 11 subjects. This can have detrimental effects on your ATAR as Unit 1, and 2 for most subjects are building blocks for Unit 3 and 4. If you believe you can effectively manage your subjects, it would be great to complete an extra subject.

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