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How to choose your subjects in high school

Updated: Sep 29, 2022




High school sounds really exciting; it is all about making choices. What sport to play? What extracurricular activities should you be involved in? How many friends should I make? What should I prioritize? One of the most important choice out of all these is which subject to choose?

Being a high school student myself, I know how overwhelming this can be. The thought of choosing a group of subjects that would determine your career can be frightening.

To be very honest, I was so scared when I had to choose my subjects that I practically avoided the question for as long as I could, but trust me, I have learnt that the more you avoid something, the more it runs behind you.

This stage in your life as a teenager helps you understand your interests, academic strengths, and weaknesses and helps you prepare for college overall. It helps you grow as a person, and it teaches you to be decisive.

Choosing subjects is a big task because there are so many available options to choose from. Yes, I know science, commerce, and humanities are basically the only options in CBSE schools, but if you look deeper, a lot of schools give you options like psychology, computer science, information practices, legal studies, journalism, and so on.

For my IB board mates, you have to choose courses from a list of subject groups: studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, science, mathematics, and the arts, under which you could opt for additional subjects too.

For more information about your subject options, click the link below.

Keeping all the boards in mind, choosing a subject is tough, but like always, I got your back!

Here is the secret to subject selection.

Ask yourself what it is that you really want.

You have to know what you want in order to get it. What I really mean is, that you need to sit down and think about what it is that you really want in your life in terms of a career. Will you be able to deal with the challenges it brings along?

I have seen so many of my friends choose the wrong subjects only because they feel pressured. But, to be honest, they all now regret their decisions.

This is going to give you a clear and deeper understanding and help you make good decisions that are your own and not anyone else’s. At the end of the day, it is your life, and I do not think any of you would like to live with the pit of regret in your stomach.

Let me be a little more clear: deciding what you want will narrow down to what you expect from life in terms of your career. If you know you want to be a lawyer, financial analyst, or anything else, then you know what you want in life and can choose the necessary subjects for that field.


Choose a reasonable challenge.

What I did when I had to choose subjects was, I sat down and made 3 groups of subjects I could opt for. I carefully researched each and every subject, its curriculum, and the challenging topics it offered. I know this may sound harsh, but there is a huge wall that stands between something you think you can do and what you can actually do. For example, wishing to be a pilot and opting for science even when you know you will not be able to study due to the complexity of the subjects can lead to you performing poorly and even having to re-sit for the exams. What if you are a student that is great with civics and history? Remember, you can always study the careers every stream offers.

"You need to know when to push through high levels of the complex nature of subjects and when to be mindful of your own limitations."

You need to find the right balance between your ambition and reality. Let's face it, no one else knows more than you how much of a challenge you can take upon yourself. If you think you can study science, you need to understand the curriculum and the challenges it offers. Always go for subjects that you know you can manage.

List down compulsions

Now that you have decided upon a particular stream or career path, narrow down the compulsory subjects needed. For example, if you decide you want to pursue your career in the commerce field, your compulsory subjects would be Accountancy, Economics, and English. Compulsory subjects vary from school to school. It depends on what stream you want to pursue.

Embrace your uncertainty.

If you, at this point, do not want to make the decision of what career path you want to follow, you need to know that this is also okay. You can sit down and keep these aspects in mind: your interests, your ability to face challenges, and something you would enjoy.

These aspects will help you list down a few subjects that you would like to opt for, while they provide you with good career options.


Now, I know that sometimes you might feel that the content of some subjects might not have much use unless you're pursuing a specialized career path like medicine, but you have to agree, we've all wondered, "are we even going to use this in real life?"

Something I've observed is that school is not only about learning the subject matter, but also about learning how to learn. Sometimes it's also important to develop study habits. One thing that I have learnt throughout my high school life till now is the ability to self-study and manage my study habits. This might even help you structure everything and make your management skills quite efficient.

Choosing subjects not only teaches you what content the subject contains, but it also builds your

  • confidence.

  • Self-study and time management techniques

  • Note-taking and revision techniques

  • Critical thinking

And many more

Lastly, if you're still unsure, it is never too late to consult a career counselor. They have a lot of experience in this field, and they can surely help you out.

For your reference, here is a list of the top 5 career counseling websites that could help you make decisions





I hope this article was helpful,


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Sumati Grover


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