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How can a sixth VCE subject boost University options?

NEWS 17 Aug 2023

The start of VCE studies can be a time of mixed emotions – for students and their families. There’s the excitement of starting a journey that marks the final years of school, and there’s also the anticipation of being able to study subjects that students are passionate about and that might be the first steps towards their chosen career.

VCE years also bring the opportunity for more independent learning and for students to feel more in control of what and how they study. It’s a time that can prepare them for the kinds of self-paced and self-driven learning that awaits them at university.

At the same time, VCE years bring increased workloads and expectations. The bar is set higher and students may begin to feel the pressures that come with needing to achieve a certain ATAR to be offered a place in the university course of their dreams.


Five versus Six

Many high schools have a VCE timetable that offers students five VCE subjects in Year 12. As a student, the option to fit a sixth subject into a timetable specifically designed for only five subjects is a challenge. ATAR aggregates include the top four scaled study scores (including an English study), along with 10 per cent of the fifth and sixth highest subject scores, explains Dr Merinda Bermingham, Head of Teaching & Learning (Senior School) at Haileybury.

“For motivated and passionate students, committing to excellence in a sixth subject can give them an edge in their ATAR that not only allows them to pursue more interests, but opens pathways in the tertiary setting”
Dr Merinda Bermingham, Head of Teaching & Learning (Senior School)

The online option

If a school’s timetable doesn’t allow students to pick up a sixth VCE subject, one way around that problem is to study a sixth subject online instead.

Haileybury Pangea is Australia's leading private online school for students in Years 5 to 12 and as well as offering a full online curriculum, the school offers over 20 VCE subjects.

Self-paced and flexible study

Each subject consists of two live online teaching periods each week, complemented by three to six hours of self-paced learning. The flexibility in this style of learning enables any students who want to pick up a sixth VCE subject to easily slot the extra commitment into their existing school week.

“Many students are juggling multiple personal and academic commitments, so being able to study a sixth subject in a way that fits in with their schedule means they can pursue their interests and access the advantage this offers,” says Merinda.

"For many students, being in control of the pace and scheduling of their learning is also important. They are independent and motivated, and now have an opportunity to pursue more subjects they love."

“Complementing all of this, is the students’ access to some of the highest-performing, most passionate teachers of the subjects offered. Haileybury students achieve outstanding outcomes when they are motivated to excel and heed their teacher’s expert guidance. They earn not only a 10% addition to their ATAR, but lifelong skills connected to the subjects they study.”