BlogStudyWhat You Should Consider When Selecting Your QCE Subjects

What You Should Consider When Selecting Your QCE Subjects

Different types of books on a shelf - QLD ATAR Subjects Featured Image

Now, there is a lot to consider when selecting your QCE subjects for Years 11 and 12. It is an exciting time, yet it can also be very stressful — which QLD subjects will maximise your ATAR or which ones will help you to develop the right skills?

The time has come when you finally get to decide how you will spend most of your time at school and what you will be learning, but it’s also the time you come to realise that everything counts.

Choosing the right subjects may seem like a daunting task, but there are two things you should keep in mind when making this decision. These are:

  • The path you wish to take beyond high school
  • Your strengths

So let’s dive into the different options you have when it comes to ATAR subjects in QLD or more practical pursuits!

The Path Beyond High School
Your Strengths
QCE Subjects You Can Choose From
Getting Your QCE

The Path Beyond High School 

Depending on what path you wish to take post-school, the subjects you may wish to consider will be vastly different. Some people may be planning to pursue tertiary education, others may want to pursue a trade, some people may wish to do neither, and some may not know what they want to do yet. 

While it is helpful to have an idea of the different pathways you are interested in for after school, you don’t have to have your whole life planned out just yet — you have the rest of your life to figure that out. Having an idea of your interests can help you make your decision regarding subjects!

Pathways Beyond High School - University or Trades


If you wish to attend university after high school, make note of the courses you are interested in and the requirements for those courses. Every course and every university is going to have different entry requirements. These include ATAR requirements and assumed knowledge.

While many universities have said goodbye to the notion of “prerequisites”, these same universities have welcomed the notion of “assumed knowledge”. This means it is no longer a necessity for you to study certain subjects, rather it would simply be advantageous if you did. 

Take a note of which subjects are recommended for your courses of interest and factor these into your decision making process. I would encourage you, however, to ignore the ATAR requirement for your courses as this may prompt you to choose subjects that you think will scale better — which, most times, isn’t the best move. 

Check out our guide to applying for university through QTAC here!


If you wish to pursue a trade, then taking a full study-load of general subjects may not be the best option for you. Take into consideration what is required to learn the trade that you wish to learn.

Ask yourself, “What is the pathway I need to take and how can I help myself get there?”

For trades, you may want to consider completing some certificates while in school or undertaking some of the more hands-on applied subjects — rather than general subjects. 

Your Strengths

Suppose the course you are interested in requires a high ATAR. Rather than choosing subjects that you believe will scale well, take into consideration your strengths and what you find interesting.

If you choose a subject solely on fact that you think it will scale well, you may not perform to the best of your ability — especially if it isn’t actually a subject that you enjoy. If, instead, you choose subjects that are suited to your strengths and what you find interesting, then you are more likely to perform well and this will show in your ATAR.

The chances are, if you aren’t interested in a subject, you are less likely to study it. Whereas, if you are taking subjects that inspire you and engender a sense of excitement and foster your curiosity, then you will better enjoy the process of learning and will be more likely to dedicate those subjects a greater amount of time. 

Thus, if you believe that Humanities is a strength of yours, don’t force yourself to study Physics because you think it will scale well. Similarly, if you are a Mathematics-enthusiast, maybe don’t force yourself to study Literature because you believe it will scale well. 

The truth is, scaling will vary every year (based on your cohort’s performance). Therefore, there is no way for you to truly know how your subjects will scale. 

Still deciding on the best school for you? We’ve done the research for you! Check out the list of top ATAR schools in Brisbane here.

QCE Subjects You Can Choose From

Below are lists of all of the General and Applied subjects you can study during your final years of school. Take a note of what subjects you may be interested in and see if your school offers them.

If there is a subject you wish to take, but your school cannot facilitate your studies, you may wish to consider studying externally, through another school. If that is the case, then you should get in touch with the appropriate teachers to see what your options are. 

To help ease some of the burdens that come along with making this decision, for those who wish to get an ATAR, you must complete one English subject and one Mathematics subject. Thus, once you have decided which English and Maths subjects you want to undertake, you now only have to choose a few more subjects. 

Types of QCE Subjects including QLD ATAR Subjects

General Subjects (ATAR Subjects in QLD)

To receive an ATAR, you must study — at the very minimum — 4 general subjects. Typically, students will select 6 general subjects, meaning the best 5 subjects will be used in the calculation.

Wanting to study only 5 subjects? Find out about what it means to drop an ATAR subject for Year 12!

However, some students may wish to take 4 General subjects and 1 Applied subject, or 4 General subjects and a Certificate. The combination of subjects you take is up to the path you want to follow after school. 

It’s important to note that some subjects in this list only count for 2 units worth of study, rather than 4.

Feeling like you’re drowning at how hard the start of Year 11 is? There’s a very specific reason why…

An example of this is English & Literature Extension which is studied in Year 12. Students who wish to study this may take General English or Literature for Units 1 & 2, and study English & Literature Extension for Units 3 & 4 (potentially in conjunction with the standard version). 

Subject AreasGeneral Subjects
English- English (4 credits)
- English and Literature Extension (2 credits)
- English as an Additional Language (4 credits)
- Literature (4 credits)
Health and Physical Education- Health (4 credits)
- Physical Education (4 credits)
Humanities and Social Sciences- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (4 credits)
- Ancient History (4 credits)
- Business (4 credits)
- Economics (4 credits)
- Geography (4 credits)
- Legal Studies (4 credits)
- Modern History (4 credits)
- Philosophy & Reason (4 credits)
- Study of Religion (4 credits)
Languages- Chinese (4 credits)
- Chinese Extension (4 credits)
- French (4 credits)
- French Extension (4 credits)
- German (4 credits)
- German Extension (4 credits)
- Italian (4 credits)
- Japanese (4 credits)
- Spanish (4 credits)
Mathematics- General Mathematics (4 credits)
- Mathematical Methods (4 credits)
- Specialist Mathematics (4 credits)
Sciences- Agricultural Science (4 credits)
- Biology (4 credits)
- Chemistry (4 credits)
- Earth & Environmental Science (4 credits)
- Marine Science (4 credits)
- Physics (4 credits)
- Psychology (4 credits)
Technologies- Aerospace Systems (4 credits)
- Design (4 credits)
- Digital Solutions (4 credits)
- Engineering (4 credits)
- Food & Nutrition (4 credits)
The Arts- Dance (4 credits)
- Drama (4 credits)
- Film, Television & New Media (4 credits)
- Music (4 credits)
- Music Extension (Composition) (4 credits)
- Music Extension (Musicology) (4 credits)
- Music Extension (Performance) (4 credits)
- Visual Art (4 credits)

Is year 12 harder than year 11? Find out here!

Applied Subjects

The following is a list of all of the applied subjects on offer for Years 11 and 12. Many of these subjects are more “hands on” and will cover content with more explicit real-world connection!

A lot of these subjects are great for those who wish to pursue a trade after school. 

Subject AreasGeneral Subjects
English- Essential English (4 credits)
Health and Physical Education- Early Childhood Studies (4 credits)
- Sport & Recreation (4 credits)
Humanities and Social Sciences- Business Studies (4 credits)
- Religion & Ethics (4 credits)
- Social & Community Studies (4 credits)
- Tourism (4 credits)
Mathematics- Essential Mathematics (4 credits)
Sciences- Agricultural Practices (4 credits)
- Aquatic Practices (4 credits)
- Science in Practice (4 credits)
Technologies- Building & Construction Skills (4 credits)
- Engineering Skills (4 credits)
- Fashion (4 credits)
- Furnishing Skills (4 credits)
- Hospitality Practices (4 credits)
- Industrial Graphics Skills (4 credits)
- Industrial Technology Skills (4 credits)
- Information & Communication Technology (4 credits)
The Arts- Arts in Practice (4 credits)
- Dance in Practice (4 credits)
- Drama in Practice (4 credits)
- Media Arts in Practice (4 credits)
- Music in Practice (4 credits)
- Visual Arts in Practice (4 credits)


It’s also good to keep in mind that certificates are an option! If there is something you want to learn that can help you achieve your future goals, but is not presented in any of the subjects, a certificate may provide you with what you are after.

If you wish to complete a certificate, see what certificates your school endorses. Further, you can also do your own research to find certificates that you may be able to complete outside of school. 

Getting Your QCE

It’s important to keep in mind the requirements for obtaining your QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education).

To be successfully awarded your QCE you need to pass 20 units across Units 1-4. Typically, each subject will grant you a total of 4 credits (one per unit).

So, if you were to successfully take the standard load of 6 regular subjects, you would graduate with 24 credits and would be awarded your QCE. If you successfully passed 5 regular subjects, you would graduate with the minimum number of credits for your QCE (20). 

Some subjects, such as extension subjects for example, only run for 2 units — meaning, they will only grant you 2 credits. Certificates and VET courses on the other hand, can accrue up to 8 credits upon completion. 

Remember: If you are struggling with your workload at the end of Year 11, it’s always an option to drop one QCE subject for Year 12!

There you have it!

You’ve now got all you need to know about selecting subjects to study, regardless of if you’re wanting an ATAR or are looking towards a more practical pathway after high school in QLD. We’ve got plenty of other QCE resources, which you can check out here!

Looking for other QCE resources?

Check out some of our other articles related to the QCE below:

Are you looking for some extra help with navigating QCE subject selection for your ATAR in QLD?

We have an incredible team of QCE tutors and mentors!

We can help you master your QCE subjects and ace your upcoming QCE assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or online!

Wanting some extra guidance for choosing your subjects? Check out our QCE tutors and mentors located in Brisbane. Not local? We tutor on the Gold Coast!!

Looking to see the most affordable schools in the Brisbane region? Check out our ranking here!

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Regional tutoring support options are a priority for us. Get paired with your one-on-one Townsville tutor today!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational QCE tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!

Katelyn Smith was a pioneer in the Queensland ATAR system. After graduating in 2020 with an ATAR of 98.40, she now studies a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) at The University of Queensland — majoring in Physics. Through her studies, she hopes to develop a greater appreciation for how the wonders of the universe work. When she isn’t slaving away behind her unnecessarily large textbooks, she enjoys catching up with friends, scrolling mindlessly through TikTok, and sleeping.

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