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Tips for choosing course preferences

Tips for choosing course preferences

Choosing course preferences can be tough. You want to choose a course that you’ll enjoy and that will bring you one step closer to your career goals. To get to that point, you need to have researched your choices and assessed what you like about each course (and what you don’t).

To get you started, there are a few practical tips to keep in mind before you begin selecting courses:

  • Take note of important dates, such as when the preference submission period begins and ends. You should also look into when you will have an opportunity to change your preferences and when offers will be made.
  • Submit as many preferences as you can. There’s no harm in having a few back-ups just in case you miss out on your first few preferences. The number of preferences you can submit varies from state to state, so refer to your local Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC), listed below, for more information.
  • Don’t rush through the process or leave it to the last minute. You want to be confident that you’ll be happy with your first preference should you receive an offer; it shouldn’t be a course you read about once, or worse, one you haven’t researched at all.
  • Make sure that the information you submit is accurate. This means double checking (or even triple checking) the courses you have selected (including the study loads you have applied for) and the personal information you have entered, as well as ensuring that you have submitted all necessary documentation.

For more in-depth advice, consider the following tips:

Think carefully about how you order your preferences
Before you submit your preferences, make sure that you have ordered them according to the offers you would most like to receive (keeping in mind that you usually need to have met all subject prerequisites to be considered). Your most preferred course, regardless of its ATAR or OP requirements, should be listed first — even if the required cut-off is lower than your second or third preference. If you can’t decide on your first preference, do some last minute research to see which course jumps out at you — perhaps one of the two you can’t choose between has specialisations of greater interest to you.

Pay careful attention to entry requirements
You may find that two courses that are otherwise very similar can vary greatly when it comes to prerequisites. One may require a very specific set of prerequisite subjects and have a high cut-off score, while another may be more flexible, requiring just one subject prerequisite and a comparatively lower ATAR/OP. You should also note that prerequisites can vary between institution campuses, so investigate other campuses if your preferred course is competitive. You should also pay careful attention to additional requirements, such as attending an interview, test or audition, as these will require some preparation.

Consider your pathway options
If you’re worried that you may not meet the requirements of a course you’re considering as your first preference, fill some of your lower preferences with courses that have more flexible entry options or can act as pathways to your first choice. This may include a lower-qualification (such as a diploma course that can lead into a bachelor degree) or a similar course at a lower-demand institution. This means that you will have another option, or several, if you don’t meet the requirements of your first preference. If you haven’t completed the required subject prerequisites or don’t quite meet the entry requirements for your preferred course, you should also investigate whether bridging or foundation courses are available.

Avoid picking a course just because it has a high cut-off score
If you’re expecting to receive a high ATAR or OP score, don’t simply choose courses because they fit into your predicted range. This also applies to changing preferences once you have received your score — if you have your heart set on creative arts, don’t make a drastic turn for medicine if you do better than you expected. Select a course because you are interested in the subject matter and can see yourself working in that field.