Top Tips for Better Subject Selection

Term Two for the 2019 Academic Year has now begun. Soon many schools will start the subject selection process, heralding the beginning of the construction of the 2020 school timetable.

Whether you use an automated subject selection tool like Edval Choice; which can make the process more streamlined and easier to manage, or are still using paper forms to collect student preferences, a little planning and preparation for this process can greatly reduce stress later. Reducing not only the amount of student counseling required at later stages but also the accuracy and validity of the preferences given.

With this in mind, here are our top 10 tips for better subject selection.

Test the process.

Get the form ready early and test, test, test. Test the rules and co-requisite requirements you are enforcing and ask other teachers to test the form too. You can always amend the form at a later stage if you need to or if things change. Just make sure you test again before sending.

Emphasise the importance of the reserve preferences to the students.

Make sure the students know that if they miss out on a main preference that their reserves may come into play, and as a result, they should think seriously about their reserve preferences and the order in which they give them. The reserve preferences can reduce the amount of student counseling you have to do if a student misses out on main preferences, so this can make your job easier as well as ensuring that the students get into the courses they want.

Involve parents in the process.

Many schools hold subject selection evenings where they talk through the process with both the parents and the students. If you are using an online subject selection module like Edval Choice, take the time to demonstrate the form and the process from start to finish.

Ensure students select an adequate number of reserve preferences.

Depending on the number of overall preferences you are requiring, ensure you collect an adequate number of reserve preferences as well. If you are getting the students to select 6-7 main preferences, then you should also collect at least 3 reserve preferences. If they are only selecting 2 or 3 main preferences, then 2 reserve preferences should be sufficient.

Collect student preferences.

Students should be given the opportunity to select subjects based on their relative importance to the student. For a student that wants to be an Engineer, ensuring they get their Maths and Physics preferences will be more important than getting their Modern History preference for example, so these should be listed higher in their priority order. This valuable information is lost if students are forced to select from pre-set lines.

Make pattern of study rules clear.

Are there any education department study rules that are required to be enforced or do you want to include any school-imposed rules? For example, some schools may wish to restrict the number of subjects students can select that have a major work component, so the students are not under too much pressure to complete major works between studying and classes.

Make co-requisite courses clear.

Are there any courses where a student needs to select subject A to be able to also select subject B? If so, set these up as corequisite course requests in your form.

Outline forbidden courses.

Are there any subjects you don’t want a student to study? Upload a list of forbidden courses, to prevent students from selecting these subjects.

Communicate alternate pathways.

Not all students wish to go to University. Some may wish to study subjects that can be combined with other studies outside of school, which may have a different set of rules and constraints that need to be applied to the selection process. In this case, consider implementing form Streams, so that students choose the correct form based on their desired path of study.

Check your course list.

Are all of the courses you are offering listed? Do any of them need to change, or do you need to add new ones in?


Looking for a simpler system for subject selection? Edval Choice could be your answer.

Edval Choice is Edval’s online subject selection module. There are many advantages to using this module, including:

–        ensure students submit preferences that meet school rules and requirements
–        no data entry errors
–        fewer student follow-ups required by capturing reserve preferences
–        reports are available to help the decision-making processes

Learn more about Choice.

Already using Choice? Read helpful resources and watch videos to get the most out of it now. Please refer to these resources before contacting support!

For schools not yet using Edval Choice, please contact for more information on accessing this module.