Subject Selection for VCE - Which English Subject Should I Choose


If you have aspirations to complete your VCE, it is essential to choose the English subject(s) that best matches your interests and abilities. Many students opt for mainstream English, but other options include Literature and English Language. It is important that you do well in Units 3 and 4 of VCE English, so you’ll need to understand how scores are calculated and the course structure.

The importance of the subject weighting when calculating your ATAR will include the following:

  • Your scaled study score in one of the major English subjects: English Language, Literature, English as an Additional Language (EAL), mainstream English.
  • Your highest scaled score from three additional studies and 10% of your scores for the fifth and sixth permissible studies.

Another thing to consider is that the three major English subjects are essentially different. Therefore, no single subject will fit any VCE student, so they need to consider their own preferences and learning styles.

Option 1: Literature

In this subject, students are required to analyse classical texts based on ideas and characters. It will also cover socio-historical perspectives that often surround these texts. So, if you think you want to delve into complex ideas and historical facts, then Literature will be a good option for you.

Most people think that Literature is a subject for bookworms since it will require you to read many books. Although it is a subject that will allow you some freedom in structure and writing, which is not commonly possible with mainstream English.

Option 2: Mainstream English

Mainstream English is generally assumed to be the easiest, but it isn’t for everyone. In fact, if you hate essay-writing or picking apart themes, it might not be the subject for you. This subject is based around essay-writing, so you’ll need to adapt to various writing styles. You also need to analyse and compare texts and understand the meaning and context of persuasive texts.

Students must also demonstrate a strong understanding of how features and forms are presented in their essays since this will create impact and meaning for your reader.

Option 3: English Language

If you’re the type of student who loves to focus on concepts and analytical thinking, this is the best option for you. However, you should only choose the English Language if you have a genuine interest in this subject matter since you will be required to learn a range of concepts to analyse the language. This means you will need to have good study skills like note-taking, summaries and mapping out concepts.

Most importantly, you’ll need to remember that this subject has a steep learning curve at the beginning because you’ll encounter several new terminologies, and you must apply these terms when analysing the English language.

Overall, these subjects’ main goal is to extend students’ language skills through listening, reading, speaking, thinking, viewing, and writing and convey their feelings and ideas in written and spoken multimodal forms to a range of readers audiences.

Your teacher and careers counsellor will be the best people to guide you as to which subject is best for you. And, if you find yourself struggling throughout the year, it is always an option to employ the services of an accredited and qualified English tutor