Subject Selection Secrets

Choosing subjects for your next year at high school can be a daunting prospect, so here’s a few tips to keep in mind as you make your decision:

  • If you’ve got some ideas about what you want to study at university, make sure the subjects you take fulfill their prerequisites!
  • If you’re considering applying with an overseas university in mind, you might want to consider taking the subjects that they prefer. The Harvard Admissions FAQ page gives this advice: An ideal four-year preparatory program includes four years of English, with extensive practice in writing; four years of math; four years of science: biology, chemistry, physics, and an advanced course in one of these subjects; three years of history, including American and European history; and four years of one foreign language. Simply put, study a wide range of subjects for America.

If you’re not too sure what you want to do, or want to keep your options open, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Some subjects are really powerful together and can help your understanding of both courses improve e.g. Biology and Chemistry
  • Perhaps its beneficial to think of subjects as ways of training how you think, for example critical analysis in English Literature
  • In my personal opinion, always choose what interests you, but perhaps also what may be useful in the long run e.g. accounting/economics for understanding the economy and giving you basic book keeping skills. Keeping a balance of practicality in the subject you take may be important
  • Keep in mind who the possible teachers are! These may be useful to just keep class so much more interesting (cos sometimes, even with an interesting subject a boring teacher may put you off) and also boost your possible leadership opportunities
  • Think about your overall balance of subjects and the rough amount of time they’ll take to study. Perhaps, one of them can be a chill subject just to help you relax and have fun while focusing on your main subjects for grades and UCAS points
  • Remember that your subject choices should be your personal decisions –having friends in your classes sure can be fun, but don’t be pressured into taking something you don’t want. Not everyone is the same, and your subject selection should reflect your personal interests, character and dreams
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to ask friends and people who have taken the subjects you’re interested in. They’ll be sure to guide you on what to take/not to take and how to handle your combination of courses best.

Remember that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decisions, though some may be wiser than others. There is always the chance for changing your options at the beginning of the year if you’re undecided now, or an idea comes to you in the holidays. Be optimistic and make the most of the opportunities in front of you!

Written by Keniel Yao.

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