During the school holidays I conducted a workshop with a group of 25 Grade 9 learners from the Leisure Education Trust. Before the workshop commenced, learners were asked why they think choosing their grade 10-12 subjects is such an important task to undertake. They mentioned that their subjects can lead them to certain career fields, that it would prepare them with skills for certain careers and will also expose them to specific fields, which will ultimately help them to make informed career decisions. These learners also indicated that you should choose subjects you do well in and/or that you enjoy. Learners then listed the subjects they are considering for next year, as well as the reasons why they want to take these subjects. Reasons included interest and skill in the selected subjects, as well as links between these subjects and the career fields they are considering for their future.


Although good reasons were listed, one learner’s response stood out. She mentioned that she has decided to take Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and History – her reasons being that 1) she needs the first three subjects to gain access to the tertiary courses that would lead to her preferred career fields (within the Health Sciences) and 2) that she enjoys History and does well in it and therefore taking this subject will improve her aggregate, which is also important in increasing her chances for entry into further education.

The subjects you choose determine your access to further education

The mentioned learner is hitting the nail right on the head! The most important factor to consider when choosing your subjects, is that the subjects that you take in your grade 10-12 years will determine to which tertiary courses and career fields you’ll have access to after school. It is therefore necessary to think about the career fields you might want to enter and keeping the admission requirements of relevant courses in mind when choosing your subjects.

So what is expected of you?

First of all, there are still a few subjects that are compulsory to take:

  • at least two languages (of which at least one has to be taken as a Home Language and one has to be English)
  • Life Orientation
  • You also have to take either Mathematics (some teachers speak about ‘Pure Maths’) or Mathematical Literacy. In some schools you might also have the option to take an additional Mathematics subject, called AdMaths or AP (Advanced Programme) Maths (for more information visit admaths.co.za)

In addition to these compulsory subjects, you will be required to choose at least 3 elective subjects from a list offered by your school.These subjects might include the following:

Accounting, Agricultural Sciences, Business Studies, Computer Applied Technology (CAT), Dramatic Arts, Design, Economics, Engineering Graphics and Design (EGD), Geography, History, Consumer Studies, Information Technology (IT), Life Sciences, Music, Physical Sciences, Religion Studies, Tourism, Visual Arts

Start thinking about possible career fields

Nobody is expecting you to already know exactly what career you want to follow, but when you start thinking of the possibilities, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Preparing yourself for making a career-related decision requires you to continuously expand your self-knowledge and even more, evaluate a stack of career-related information, all while taking your broader context into account. Take a look at the following tips and equip yourself to make an informed decision regarding your subjects for the next three years (also go read about these tips at www.careerprep.co.za/subjects)!

#1 – Explore who you are

Think about your interests and passions, values, personality preferences, skills, scholastic aptitude and other talents, as well as external influences that might impact your career decision making process. When you have done this exploration, it is important to think about which of these personal factors are most important to take into account when discovering career fields. Look at some of the examples the grade 9 workshoppers noted down:

#2 – Discover career fields

Once you have a better understanding of yourself, you are ready to discover more about the career fields you are considering. Make sure you have a realistic idea of the careers you are considering by doing proper research, speaking to workers in these careers and spending some time work shadowing. You can start off by using a website like www.gostudy.net (click on Find a Career) to find out more about the tasks associated with a certain career, the fields of specialisations you can enter, where you can find employment, what would be required from you (in terms of personal attributes as well as education) and which other careers are related to the one you are considering.


Although the internet is an awesome resource for doing research in different careers, it will also be important to gain some exposure by work shadowing a professional in his/her career. It gives you the opportunity to experience the real day-to-day activities of the occupation you are considering. Make sure that you gain as much as you can from this experience by preparing well and visiting as many different companies in the line(s) of work you are considering. Remember, your decision will become easier with every bit of information you gain.

#3 – Consider further education

When you start applying to further education in your grade 12 year, you will have to meet the following requirements:

  • General admission requirements for your qualification of choice (bachelors degree, national diploma or national certificate)
  • Specific subjects as required by the course you want to apply to
  • Specific minimum performance in these subjects (remember, meeting this minimum requirement still does not guarantee a place in the course – the higher you score, the better your chances are!)
  • Specific average (without Life Orientation) or Admission Point Score (APS), as calculated by the institution and faculty you are applying to

You can start by considering which type of qualification and institution will be best for you and then make sure that you know what will be required from you to enter your preferred type of further education. In South Africa you can further your studies by completing a national certificate, national diploma or bachelors degree at either a TVET college, university of technology or university, as well as at a list of private institutions. Visit Tip 3 at www.careerprep.co.za/subjects for more information.

#4 – Identify subject requirements

As mentioned before, certain tertiary courses will require that you have specific subjects, as well as a specific performance in these subjects. For example, to be considered for a BCom degree, most institutions require that you have at least 50% or 60% in Mathematics. Take a look at this list of career fields with their required and recommended subjects (see Tip 4 at www.careerprep.co.za/subjects for a list of examples in each of these fields). Recommended subjects (between brackets) are ones that can give you some exposure to a field or that can prepare you for training in the field, although it will not necessarily be required for admission. Please remember that institutions have the right to change these requirements and that exceptions may occur. Start browsing institution’s websites and prospectuses to gain more knowledge on specific course requirements by following the links below:


University prospectuses:


Universities of Technology prospectuses:



Agricultural Sciences – Mathematics, Physical Sciences (Life Sciences, Geography, Agricultural Sciences)

Art and Visual Communication – Mathematics OR Maths Literacy (Design, EGD, Visual Art)

Performing Arts – Mathematics OR Maths Literacy (Dramatic Arts)

Engineering, Design and the Built Environment – Mathematics, Physical Sciences (EGD, Design, Visual Arts)

Sport Careers – Mathematics OR Maths Literacy, for Sport Sciences: Physical Sciences and/or Life Sciences (Life Sciences, Business Management – for Sport Management)

Commerce, Management, Banking and Financial Services – Mathematics (Economics, Business Studies, Accounting some of which may be required by certain institutions)

Sciences – Mathematics, Physical Sciences (Life Sciences, Geography)

Hospitality and Tourism – For Consumer Science: Mathematics and Physical Sciences, For some management courses: Mathematics (Tourism, Hospitality Studies, Consumer Studies, Business Studies)

Health Sciences – Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences

IT and Computer Science – Mathematics, Physical Sciences (in Science or Engineering courses in IT) (IT, CAT)

Education – Mathematics OR Maths Literacy plus subjects that you might want to teach

Law – Good performance in languages; Mathematics for Business or Accounting courses with Law (e.g. BCom Law or BAcc Law) (History)

Social Sciences and Theology – Good performance in languages, Mathematics OR Maths Literacy (depending on your elective modules) (History)

Linguistic careers – Good performance in languages, Mathematics OR Maths Literacy (depending on your elective modules) (History)

#5 – Understand the subjects you can choose from

It is also important to be sure about the content of the subjects you are considering to take. Make sure that you speak to your teachers if you are unsure about what a certain subject entails. Also see Tip 5 at www.careerprep.co.za/subjects for more information.

If you are still unsure about which subjects to take, contact CareerPrep for a booking.

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