Year 10 subject selection

Teen girl in lab

At a glance:

  • Year 10 students are asked to select subjects for the following two years.
  • Students should choose subjects they are interested and engaged in.
  • Some universities hold open days/nights to discuss Year 10 subject selection.
  • Even if your child is unlikely to go to university, it is wise to include subjects which will keep their options open.
  • Speak with the school's careers adviser about your child's strengths, plans and options.
  • Find out if there are Year 10 subject selection  events being held at a university near you.

In Year 10 students are asked to select subjects for Years 11 and 12. Here are some tips to help your teen choose well.

Your first consideration, according to Board of Studies Liaison Officer Cheryl Russell, is to encourage your child to choose subjects that emphasise their strengths and interests.

"If you support your child to choose subjects they are good at, interested in and can see themselves using in the future, your child is not only more likely to do better in the HSC, but to achieve a higher university admissions ranking," Cheryl says.

Even if at this stage you don't think a university career is on the cards for your child, it's important for kids to give themselves as many future options as possible. Today's Year 10 students will quite possibly have several careers over their working lives, including job descriptions that may not even exist yet.

Who can help?

Sue MacLean, senior coordinator career and transition support with the Department of Education and Communities, says the key people at school who can help your child make the right choice for their skills and interests are careers advisers, your child's Year Advisor and their current subject teachers.

"Careers advisers in each school help students to see the wider picture of career planning, and understand that this next stage is really a launching pad, not a ‘live or die' moment," says Sue. "With this approach, parents' support, and having frank conversations with their teachers and year adviser/careers adviser, students are unlikely to throw in the towel, or just ‘do what their mates are doing'."

Career advisers can also discuss different career pathways for your child – whether they hope to pursue an apprenticeship or traineeship, or want to go on to study at university, TAFE or other registered training providers.

Subject selection at a glance

In terms of the actual subject selection process, your child will be asked to choose from a combination of required subjects and levels which meet unit requirements for both the HSC and the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

  1. Your child will be able to select a mix of subjects from the two types of courses – board developed and board endorsed. Both can count toward the HSC, but only board developed courses are considered by the UAC when calculating your child's ATAR.
  2. An eligible subject selection for both the HSC and ATAR must include the required number of units of mandatory board developed courses (most are worth two units each) and the following combination in both Year 11 and 12:
  • Two units of English
  • Six units of board developed courses (with three courses of a minimum of two units each)
  • Courses chosen from across four subjects.

3.  To achieve an HSC your child will need to complete at least 12
      units in Year 11 and at least 10 units in Year 12.

4.   The HSC is made up of two kinds of marks:

  • school-based assessment – based on assessment of tasks and tests, and
  • the examination mark – based on the HSC examination.

What's an ATAR?

  • ATAR – a number between 0 and 99.95 with increments of 0.05 – is calculated by the UAC and helps universities rank applicants for selection.
  • Your child is ranked by overall academic achievement in the HSC in relation to that of other students.
  • Your child's ranking is calculated on scaled marks from the courses mentioned in point 2, which includes their best two units of English and their best eight units from the remaining courses.
  • Students receive their ATAR notice at the same time as they receive their HSC results from the Board of Studies (typically in December).

Advice on subject selection

Many universities hold information days or nights for Year 10 students and their parents, and discuss which HSC subjects your child may need to study in order to apply for certain university courses (or, course prerequisites):


This site uses Google Translate, a free language translation service, as an aid. Please note translation accuracy will vary across languages.