ATAR Subject Selection For Medicine

In this video our medical admissions expert Charlie breaks down how to select your child’s Year 11 and 12 ATAR subjects if they want to gain admission into Medicine.

It covers three key areas:

  1. The crucial subjects your child must study if they want to gain admission into Medicine.
  2. The subjects that are recommended for Medicine.
  3. The subjects that have allowed other students to gain admission into Medicine in the past.

If you are looking for a comprehensive guide into everything you need to know about ATAR for Medicine in 2021/22, this is the video guide for you! We have also included brief notes below the video if you do not have time to watch the entire video guide right away.

When selecting which subjects your child will study for Years 11 and 12, there are 3 different types of subjects you will need to consider in your decision-making.

3 types of ATAR subjects for Medicine

Type 1: Mandatory Subjects

There are 2 keys subjects your child must study if they want to gain admission into Medicine.

  1. English – studying an English subject is mandatory for Medicine.
  2. Chemistry – studying for Chemistry is mandatory for Medicine.

These subjects must be studied by your child if they want to get into Medicine. Universities do not accept students that have not studied either English or Chemistry.

There are 2 subjects most universities recommend your child studies if they want to gain admission into Medicine. These subjects make it easier for students in first year Medicine.

  1. Maths – studying a Maths subject is recommended (but not mandatory) for Medicine.
  2. Biology – studying for Biology is recommended (but not mandatory) for Medicine.

These subjects are not mandatory, but looked on favourably by universities. If your child is naturally gifted at these subjects and attaining high marks, it is advantageous to study them in Years 11 and 12. However if your child is not achieving high grades in these subjects, they do not have to select them.

Type 3: Enjoy/Excel Subjects

For your child’s final 2 subject choices, we recommend you choose subjects that your child enjoys and excels in. These are subjects that your child has attained high marks in, and enjoys studying for.

Universities want high scores. For the final 2 subject choices they do not care what subjects your child chooses, only how well they perform in each of these subjects.

This means that universities do not distinguish between students that achieve high scores in Drama and Physical Education, compared to students who excel in Physics and Psychology. They just want to see your child achieving exceptionally high grades in whatever final subjects they choose.

How does scaling impact ATAR subject selection for Medicine?

Many people select subjects based on how much they scale up or down (e.g. advanced Maths subjects often scale up 5-10 marks, whereas Arts/Drama subjects often scale down 5-10 marks).

Subject scales up or down based on the calibre of students studying for a subject, not based on the subjects perceived level of difficulty.

This is because in Year 12, subject scores are rankings (e.g. a 99 ATAR means your child is in the top 1% of the state) not a percentage of how many questions were answered right/wrong.

This means that without scaling it would be easier to attain high marks in subjects where a lower calibre of students have selected it. Scaling was introduced to solve this problem and level the playing field.

There is therefore no advantage in selecting subjects based on whether they scale up, or scale down.

Looking to help your child with their UCAT preparation?

Are you interested in helping your child prepare for their UCAT exam?

Book in for a one-on-one call with one of our medical admissions experts using the link below:

On this call, our experts will directly speak with you about the following topics:

  • How the medical admissions process works
  • How the UCAT exam works
  • When your child should start their UCAT preparation
  • How your child can get started with their UCAT preparation
  • How our ‘Weekly UCAT Tutoring Program’ works & how you can join

These calls are perfect for parents of aspiring Medical students who are currently in year 10 or 11 and you can book in for a call using the link below:


Med Prep School is the school for future doctors, guiding students to excel in their ATAR, UCAT and Interviews to earn a place into Medicine.

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