Deciding which VCE subjects to take, but not sure how to choose a maths subject?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re going to cover the major differences between the levels of VCE Maths.

So, let’s dive in!

## Which VCE Maths should I do?

## How Should You Choose Between the Levels?

## Which VCE Maths should I do?

There are** four levels** of VCE Maths. The VCE Maths subject you choose is based on how much you **enjoy** maths, your **skill** level and whether your **uni course** requires a certain **prerequisite** for Maths.

**Foundation Mathematics (Units 1-4)**

**Foundation Maths** is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to solve mathematical problems in a variety of **real-world contexts**. The following areas of study are covered in Foundation Maths:

- Algebra, number and structure (e.g. fractions and algebra problems)
- Data analysis, probability and statistics (e.g. mean, standard deviation, box plots)
- Financial and consumer mathematics (e.g. calculating interest on loans)
- Space and measurement (e.g. calculating areas and volumes)

**General Mathematics (Units 1-4)**

**General Maths** consists of a four unit sequence designed to be **completed in Years 11 & 12**.

It covers some of the same material as Foundation Maths, with **added depth and complexity**. The areas of study are:

- Data analysis, probability and statistics
- Algebra, number and structure
- Functions, relations and graphs (e.g. using linear models)
- Discrete mathematics (Matrices)

Read our article on

why VCE students should pay less attention to subject scaling!

**Mathematical Methods (Units 1-4)**

Mathematical Methods is the **intermediate difficulty** maths, which aims to provide students with a background in **calculus** and **statistics** that is required for any scientific pursuit.

The following areas of study are covered:

- Functions, relations and graphs (including quadratics, cubics, exponential and logarithms)
- Algebra, number and structure
- Calculus (Differentiation and Integration)
- Data analysis, probability and statistics

**Specialist Mathematics (Units 1-4)**

This is the **most difficult level** of VCE maths, covering some content from Mathematical Methods in greater depth as well as some more advanced, pure maths. **Mathematical Methods** must be completed along with Specialist Mathematics.

In Specialist Maths, you’ll complete the following areas of study:

- Logic and proof
- Functions, relations and graphs
- Complex numbers
- Differential calculus and integral calculus
- Differential equations

About to make the leap up to Year 12? Here’s how to ACE it and achieve your ATAR Goal!

## How Should You Choose Between the Levels?

**Each level** of VCE maths has its own **challenges** and **benefits**, and these need to be weighed up when deciding which to choose.

**Do I Need To Study Maths?**

Short answer: no.

Mathematics is **not mandatory** for your VCE studies.

However, **mathematics is key for understanding** so much of the world around us, from how computers work to how diseases spread.

A background in maths is also **vital** for **any scientific pursuit**. Further, many employees see mathematics as a gauge of how smart someone is, so failing to complete a mathematics subject may hold you back.

So even if you’re not passionate about maths, consider completing at least some mathematics in VCE in order to **broaden your horizons** and **avoid limiting your options later in life**.

**Is VCE Maths Methods Hard? **

Mathematical Methods is the **second most difficult level** of mathematics, and will require you to reckon with concepts such as **probability**, **calculus**, and **graphing**.

This is a significant step up from General Mathematics, so **you should be careful w**hen choosing this level.

Consider **how well** you have done in mathematics in the past, and whether you **enjoy** mathematics. If you seriously dread mathematics, then completing two years of Maths Methods could easily drain you and detract from your other studies.

Maths Methods is quite the step up from your previous maths studies, but consider giving it a go anyway, as **you can simply switch to a different level** if its too much.

Not sure whether your Year 11 grades will count towards your ATAR? Find out the answer

here!

**What Courses Require Specialist Maths?**

Specialist maths is not a requirement for any course: **both science and engineering courses only require methods as a prerequisite**.

However, if you do intend to study **engineering**, you will need to complete a maths unit that covers the same content as **Specialist in the space of 12 weeks**.

This might be even **more difficult than VCE Specialist Maths**, so if this is your intention then it would be best to complete VCE Specialist Maths.

Want to study Engineering in the future? Check out what an Engineering degree at RMIT is like

here!

**Is It Worth Doing Specialist Maths If I Don’t Really Like Maths?**

Here, we’re going to go against type and say that **no.** If you really dread Maths, then Specialist is not for you.

However, you should **consider** **where your dread of Mathematics comes from**.

Maths is more than just calculating angles and distances, and it often **produces intriguing and even beautiful results**.

Specialist involves **working on abstract concepts**, and rigorously **proving** **theorems** and results.

This ends up being **very different from all the maths** you’ve done so far in school. If you have some skill at maths and are interested in any maths content you see online (Numberphile, for example), then consider giving Specialist a go.

If it doesn’t work out, you can always drop it and only complete methods at Year 12!

**What About Subject Scaling?**

By this point you may be aware that your results from each subject are scaled in order to account for differences in the difficulty of each subject.

While it is true that Methods and Specialist are significantly scaled up, they are also **significantly more difficult**.

If you perform **poorly** in these subjects, **scaling will not save you**, and the extra time spent working on a subject you are not skilled in may detract from your performance in other subjects.

**So Should I Just Choose the Easiest Maths Subject Then?**

You might think that this is the best strategy, however if you intend to work towards **any qualification that requires maths** (such as commerce), then you may need to complete the same content in an even shorter time frame.

Read up on Rory’s story on what it’s like studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Melbourne Uni

here!

It’s best to get through maths now while you’re in VCE rather than leaving it for when you’re at uni.

If you are thinking about taking a Maths subject and need some support, you can get some help from

our tutoring Melbourne team!

**What If I’m Worried About Failing Maths?**

If you are worried about if you are going to succeed, either in Methods or General Maths, don’t fret yet!

Sometimes all we need as students is a bit of help to succeed, and so getting a tutor or coach can help with this!

Check out our **Melbourne maths tutoring** to get booked in with one of our expert team today!

**What If I Can’t Make Up My Mind?**

If you still need more advice, consider **asking your maths teacher** what is the hardest level of maths they think you could cope with.

In general, it’s best to **try a harder unit in Year 11.** If this turns out to be too much, you can simply go down to an easier unit for Year 12!

Learn how to make the most of your holiday study before the VCE exams

here!

## And, That’s All!

Check out our resources for VCE Maths here:

- The Ultimate Guide to VCE Maths Methods Unit 1 and 2 Practice SACs
- What to Do the Night Before Your VCE Maths Methods Exam
- How to Ace Your End of Year Exams for VCE Maths Methods
- VCE Maths Methods Past Papers Master List

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**Scott McColl** is a content writer with Art of Smart and a Civil Engineering student at Monash University. In between working and studying, Scott enjoys playing music and working on programming projects.