How to choose subjects for Year 11 and 12 ATAR?

It’s the middle of the year (or you are getting a head start) and you have been given your subject selection form for Year 11. It can be difficult to choose – or help your child with the choice – which subjects to use for Year 11.

If your child is preparing to enter their final years of school, it is important that you have answers for some the most common questions about Year 11 and 12 subject selection.

Q: Which subjects are compulsory in Year 11 and 12 for students in Western Australia?

To achieve the minimum requirements for students to receive a Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) in 2021 and beyond, you must do the following.

Breadth and depth requirement

  • Completion of a minimum of 20 units, which may include unit equivalents attained through VET and/or endorsed programs. This requirement must include at least: (Explanatory notes 1, 2 , 3, 4, 5)
    • a minimum of ten Year 12 units, or the equivalent
    • four units from an English learning area course, post-Year 10, including at least one pair of Year 12 units from an English learning area course
    • one pair of Year 12 units from each of List A (arts/languages/social sciences) and List B (mathematics/science/technology).

Achievement standard requirement

  • Achievement of at least 14 C grades or higher (or the equivalent) in Year 11 and 12 units, including at least six C grades (or equivalents) in Year 12 units. 
  • Completion of:
    • at least four Year 12 ATAR courses (Explanatory note 5), or
    • at least five Year 12 General courses(Explanatory note 7) (or a combination of General and up to three Year 12 ATAR courses(Explanatory note 5)) or equivalent(Explanatory note 8), or
    • a Certificate II (or higher) VET qualification(Explanatory notes 9 and 10) in combination with ATAR, General or Foundation courses).

Literacy and numeracy standard

  • Demonstration of the minimum standard of literacy and numeracy. (Explanatory notes 11 and 12)

To view explanatory notes, check here.

Some independent and Catholic schools list religious education as a compulsory subject, but you may be able to choose whether you do these as ATAR or general. Students can choose the remainder of their study load as they wish, although schools may also place pre-requisites on certain studies. For example, you might need to achieve a minimum of 60% in a certain subject in Year 10 to be able to do the subject in Year 11.   

Q: Are there any prerequisites for university courses?

A: University courses usually list English as a prerequisite. There are also a number of specialists courses that might have prerequisites or desirables. If your child plans to apply for university, they will need to make sure they are eligible to receive an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and complete the required prerequisites. The best place to find this is on the Course Guides for the course that your child want to complete.

Q: How will scaling and moderation affect my child?

A lot of schools will quote “scaling” as a reason to do or not to do a subject. This is an important consideration to make. More details about TISC mark grading, you can click here. However, if your child is above average or thoroughly enjoys a certain subject, it is advisable to do that subject as your child will enjoy Year 11 and Year 12, rather than seeing the two years of study as a chore.

Q: What if my child doesn’t know what they want to do with their lives?

A: In this case, I would advise that your child does a broad range of subjects in Year 11 and Year 12, with as many ATAR subjects as they can manage. Depending on what they like, they will be able to determine which field of study they are better suited for. For example, if you enjoy Economics or Politics and Law, you might consider a Business or International Relations course. If you enjoy Human Biology, perhaps something in the health field?

Q: What if my child changes their mind between Year 11 and Year 12?

A: There are so many different factors that will affect a student in Year 11 and Year 12. Don’t panic if your child wants to drop a subject – this is totally normal. Delve to the bottom of why they want to swap and what their options are. They may be able to pick up another subject, or they may be able to complete a Certificate in lieu of another ATAR subject. Discuss these options with your school guidance counsellor.

What is an alternative reading?

What is an alternative reading?

In your study, you may have come across different reading practices or the phrase “alternative reading”.

This is a topic that is rarely covered in detail in class, but can be the difference between an average essay and an amazing essay.

SCSA WA defines reading and readings as the below:


The process of making meaning of text. This process draws on a repertoire of social, cultural and cognitive resources. Reading occurs in different ways, for different purposes, in a variety of public and domestic settings. Reading is therefore a cultural, economic, ideological, political and psychological act. The term applies to the act of reading print texts or the act of viewing a film or static image.


Readings are particular interpretations of a text. The classification of readings into alternative, resistant or dominant is quite arbitrary, depending on the ideology held by the reader. Alternative readings: readings that focus on the gaps and silences in texts to create meanings that vary from those meanings that seem to be foregrounded by the text. Dominant reading: is the reading that seems to be, for the majority of people in society, the natural or normal way to interpret a text. In a society where there are strongly competing discourses (i.e. most societies), the definition of what is a dominant reading depends on the ideology of the person making the decision. Resistant reading: a way of reading or making meaning from a text which challenges or questions the assumptions underlying the text. Resistant readings employ a discourse different from the discourse that produces the dominant reading

Source: SCSA WA

In simple terms, a reading is the way or the lens through which we interpret a certain text, be that novel, film, short story and everything in between.

Every text that you read can have multiple interpretations, depending on the reading you take. Many exams have used the term “readings” or “reading” in the responding section. Therefore, it’s wise for you to know how to conduct readings and write essays on readings.HD wallpaper: harry potter, warts, castle, magic, british, wand ...

Let’s take Harry Potter, for example.

A dominant reading of Harry Potter allows readers to understand that Harry is the traditional fantasy hero that saves the day. However, a resistant reading could be that minor characters are more fundamental to the plot line that J K Rowling intended, namely Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom. A gendered reading of Harry Potter could reveal that women should be values for their intelligence rather than for their beauty, as an indictment of society’s values. This has been demonstrated through the characters of Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood and Cho Cheng. All three female characters are appreciated for their book and street smarts, as well as their abilities to do spells. This is a very simplistic demonstration of alternative readings designed to show you the basics.

Depending on the text you have studied, type into Google <text name> + alternative reading and see what comes up! This will help you plan an essay on a dominant, resistant or alternative reading of your text for the purpose of an essay.

For more information on how to do “readings”, book your first session with Perth English Tutor.


How I Passed WACE English Confidently – A Student’s Perspective

WACE English can be a daunting subject for anyone who has never had confidence in the subject. For Stacey, who recently completed Year 12 – it turned out to be a piece of cake. Hear from her below.

1) How did you feel about English as a subject throughout high school?

English used to be a subject I struggled with during middle school. However, since having Bianca as my English ATAR tutor, I felt more comfortable and stronger completing tests, assignments and exams, especially when completing my WACE. I knew that all my preparation leading up to exams with Bianca helped me feel calm and relaxed about completing this course.

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2) What were you most worried about for Year 12 English?

There was not a lot that I was worried about for Year 12 English, as I felt comfortable when seeing my grades constantly improve after each test. So I knew that I was improving every time and was never falling backwards. However the one thing I was most worried about was not finishing in time, but I knew the only way to fix this was to use my time wisely by making sure that the 10 minutes of reading time purely went to reading the texts over and over again and annotating these in my head.

3) How did you study for Year 12 English and what tips would you give other students?

When studying for English it is best to continuously re-write essays, create new essays and read over essays. This will not only help you think on the spot, but helps you write faster and think about the structure of an essay as well. If I had to give one tip to other students I would say, ensure that when you are reading the novel given to you by the teachers, make sure you leave sticky notes on pages you believe would benefit you when writing an essay about the novel. So you then won’t have to go back and find quotes later on.

4) What was the biggest lesson you learned from the WACE exam that you could pass on to other students?

Calm down. You are stressing yourself out over something you have done a million times now. You know how to write an essay, you know how to annotate an extract and you know how to use your time wisely. When you open that piece of paper take a deep breath and just focus on what is in front of you.

5) What was the benefit of working with Bianca throughout Year 12?

Bianca is a bright and bubbly woman, who made me feel relaxed and confident, she never doubted me once and made me feel like I was capable of achieving anything. Bianca’s corrections would never make me feel like I have failed, she would explain the reasoning as to why something would not be necessary in that specific place. Bianca not only helped me get my grades up and achieve a higher score then I ever expected to get in English, but she managed to expand on my vocabulary which then made me feel like a confident out-going person. Bianca is someone who is striving to help everyone achieve the best they can and always puts her students first. Bianca is someone who loves to express good deed in anyway possible. I was successfully able to graduate from school, and complete ATAR English on a B, which I never expected to achieve, I also passed my WACE exam higher then I expected to get as-well. So Thank you Bianca for all your hard work and squeezing as many lessons possible for me.

English ATAR Exam Practice

WACE English Practice Exam

Not sure how to study for your WACE English exam?

This WACE English Practice Exam will help you practice for your upcoming exam.

The practice is divided into the three sections of the exam; Comprehending, Responding, and Composing.

The guide will help you "flex" those muscles and give yourself a strategic boost.

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