Choosing my subjects

Thinking about what subjects to take at school? We can help you with the decision.

Why subject choices are important

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Your subject choices can have an impact on what you study at college or university, and what job you go on to in the future. So, you probably have a lot of questions.

How will English help you? Will maths and chemistry be important in your career? Should you take music forward? There are a lot of things to think through before making your decision.

Five big questions when you're choosing your subjects

Answering these questions will help when you’re making your decision. You can use them to put together a shortlist of subjects.

Where could they take you?

Know what you want to do when you leave school? Picking the right subjects could help you get there, or keep your options open if you haven’t decided yet.

What subjects do you enjoy?

You're more likely to get better marks in subjects that you find interesting. Does time fly by in some subjects and go at a snail’s pace in others?

What subjects are you good at?

What do you get your best marks in? There may be some you've never studied before but would do well in. Try the Strengths quiz for ideas.

What do others think you’re good at?

Talk to your parents, friends, family, teachers and careers adviser. What do they think would suit you and why? Ask for their opinions, and see how they weigh up with your own thoughts.

How do you like to learn?

Do you like English and drama because you get to talk and listen? Or woodwork because you are good with your hands? Working out how you like to learn can help you choose your subjects.

Foundation Apprenticeships

A group of Foundation Apprentices at a financial firm in Glasgow

Does your school offer Foundation Apprenticeships? If so, make sure you think about it as one of your options during subject choices.

It could open up some exciting opportunities.

What to avoid

A pile of post-it notes with the male and female symbols printed on them

It’s easy to choose subjects for the wrong reasons, too. Avoid picking subjects just because:

  1. You like the teacher – the teacher may change
  2. There isn’t much homework – that will change
  3. Your friends are taking the subject – it might be right for them, but not for you


Think something is a boys or girls subject? There’s no such thing. Careers expert Beth Urquhart explains why you shouldn’t let stereotypes get in the way of picking the subjects you want.

Keeping your options open

You might be unsure what direction you want your career to take yet – that's fine. It just means you need to keep your options open when you're picking your subjects and keep them quite broad. 

You could choose some subjects which are known as ‘facilitating subjects’. This means they’re asked for more often than others for courses and jobs*. These include things like Maths, English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, History, Geography and Languages.

Jobs of the future

Image of a 3D printer, printing a green plastic bowl

The world of work is always changing – the World Future Society’s Thomas Frey predicts that by 2030, two billion jobs which are pretty common just now will disappear**. The good side to this? You could end up working on something we don’t even know about yet.

A few years ago, social media, online banking, and 3D printing didn’t exist. Neither did the jobs they created. 

What's next?

As technology continues to advance, so will the jobs which are available***. A few years from now, you might find yourself working in organ manufacturing, robotic communication, nanotechnology or even space travel. 

Our society will change too, with people living longer and cities growing bigger. In response, we’ll need people to work in health and social care. Jobs will be created to deal with waste management, and increased demand for power, food, and housing.

And we’ll also need people who can predict the next big trends – analysing the huge amount of data we’re now collecting about our lives to make decisions about where money is spent. 

So how do you prepare?

The job profiles in the My career options section give you an idea of what opportunities there will be in the future.

You can also use the search to find out about the industries which are growing in Scotland. 

There are some skills which will be useful no matter how things change – being adaptable, resilient, resourceful, and good at solving problems, for example. What subjects could help you with these?

*Source: Russell Group Informed Choices paper

**Source: Thomas Frey – 162 Future Jobs: Preparing for jobs that don’t yet exist

*** Source: UKCES The Future of Work: Jobs and skills in 2030