How to Choose Subjects for WACE

Choosing subjects for Year 11 and 12 can be a difficult endeavour, especially because at this stage hardly anyone is 100 percent sure of what they want to do with their life. For those of you undertaking the Western Australian Certificate of Education, or the WACE, this guide will make things a little easier.


  1. Image titled Choose Subjects for WACE Step 1
    Decide whether you want to do English or Literature. In the English exam, you have to do two unseen analyses, an essay on a text you have studied and a creative writing piece. In the Literature exam, you have to do one unseen analysis and two extended responses on texts you have studied. Apparently they are about the same difficulty, just that they test different things (creativity and ability to analyse a range of texts versus analysing a few texts in depth).
  2. Image titled Choose Subjects for WACE Step 2
    If you already know what university courses you want to do (or at least have a pretty good idea), take a look at their prerequisites.
  3. Image titled Choose Subjects for WACE Step 3
    Choose at least one List B subject. Maths is generally a good choice as many university courses do require at least 2CD maths. 2CD maths gets scaled down quite a lot though, so try to do at least 2CD in Year 11. Chemistry is also a good choice in covering prerequisites though most courses that require chemistry require maths as well.
  4. Image titled Choose Subjects for WACE Step 4
    Decide whether you want to do a foreign language or not. As well as being great for travel, your career and even just your everyday life, LOTE also gives you a little boost to your ATAR. Don't let LOTE classes in lower school put you off––by Year 11 and 12 you'll only be in class with people who want to be there, and you will learn at a much better pace so things will be kept interesting.
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    Choose your other subjects based on what you enjoy and/or what you are good at. If you like maths, doing Maths Specialist is a decent choice as the two courses complement each other well. Ditto with doing a mix of sciences or social sciences. If you aren't totally passionate about any particular field, it might be better to do a mix of subjects so that you don't get sick of doing an overload of maths/science/social sciences day in, day out. Also bear in mind that many Curriculum Council awards require you to do at least two List A and two List B subjects and that there are certain subject combinations that are "banned" (i.e. they can't both count towards your ATAR), like English/Lit and Bio/Human Bio.


  • Similarly, if you hate humanities you can choose something like economics, which still has essays but they are a bit more factual and down to earth than some of the other Humanities subjects.
  • Remember that you can always change your subjects within the first 4 weeks or so of term, depending on your school.
  • If you absolutely hate science and maths, you can choose less "scientific" subjects like Phys. Ed Studies, Design or Food Science. There's actually still quite a lot of technical stuff to learn in the written components of these subjects, though, so be warned.
  • As I said in the last step, many Curriculum Council awards (like Certificates of Commendation and General Exhibitions) require at least five subjects total, at least two from List A subjects and at least two from list B.


  • Be aware of "unacceptable subject combinations" like Bio/Human Bio, 3AB/3CD maths, 3AB/3CD Maths Specialist (however it is possible to do both 3CD maths and 3CD specialist or their 3AB equivalents while having both subjects counted) and English/Literature. Although you can do these subject combinations, only your best subject of the two will count towards your ATAR.
  • Try to avoid doing multiple Arts (as in art, drama, music etc.) subjects unless you are really passionate about them. While arts are fun and some of the theory overlaps making it a bit easier to study, the practical components often make each Arts subject feel like 2 subjects, leaving you with a lot of work. (On the other hand, you do the practicals a bit earlier, taking some pressure off you for the written exams!)

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