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Educational and Career Guidance



On this page you will find some general information in response to a range of commonly asked questions.

For information and advice specific to your individual situation, make time to have a chat with the GO.
Subject Selection TAFE          ​ University​ QTAC - Year 12​
OPs and FPs​ QCE    ​ Career Planning​ Career Info Links
Subject Selection FAQs
What are the guidelines for subject selection?
It is important to choose senior subjects carefully as your decisions may affect the types of occupations you choose in the future, your success at school and your feelings about school.
As a general plan, it is suggested that you choose subjects:
- that you enjoy
- in which you have achieved good results
- which reflect your interests and abilities
- that are needed for careers you may want to pursue
- that are the right level of difficulty (not too easy and not too difficult)
How do I know what careers I may be interested in?
Having some idea about what you MIGHT be interested in is useful when selecting subjects.  Having an idea of what you DON’T want to do can be just as useful!  For example, if you know you're not interested in becoming an engineer you will know that you do not have to choose particular science subjects.
Two of the best sources of information on careers are the Job Guide and MyFuture websites.  Both of these are available online and are updated regularly.
How do I know what subjects I need to take for a particular career?
All Year 10 students have been given a publication called ‘Tertiary Prerequisites 2015’.
This book tells you what subjects are prerequisites for University and TAFE Diploma courses. 
Check with the Guidance Officer if you are not sure of what subjects to take.
What if I need a subject for a career and my teacher advises me not to do it?
Sometimes, tertiary courses have prerequisite subjects which may be difficult.  For example, you need to take Maths B to do Engineering at university.  Sometimes teachers may suggest that students are unlikely to achieve an SA in Maths B.
If you have been advised not to do a subject but you think you need it for a career in which you are interested, see the Guidance Officer.  There may be an alternative way to get into this career without taking the subject. 
Remember, you not only have to take the subject, you also have to get at least an SA in it.  It's no use taking a subject unless you can do this.
Where can I get more information?
- BSHS Subject Selection Guidelines booklet
- BSHS Year 11 and 12 subject selection booklets
- Subject expo and information evening
- Heads of Departments and teachers of each subject
- Older students who are already studying the subject
Choices made now will impact on the future.  For this reason, your subject selection choices must be INFORMED, REALISTIC and SENSIBLE.
Ideally, you should choose subjects in which you will be successful and that will keep your options open.
What type of courses can I do at TAFE?
Courses at TAFE are Vocational, which aim to teach you skills that prepare you to enter the workforce.  TAFE courses are made up of modules.  Assessment is competency based, with students being assessed as competent or not yet competent at the end of each module.
There are two types of courses that you can do at TAFE:
-  Diploma Courses:  these take from 1 ½ to 2  years to complete; they can be used to upgrade into University courses
-  Certificate Courses:  these usually take from six months to a year to complete; they can sometimes be used to gain entrance to TAFE Diploma courses
Which TAFE should I go to?
There is very little difference between a particular course that is offered at different TAFEs. 
This means that you can choose which TAFE to attend based on other factors (such as how easy it is to get to).
Sometimes, however, there may be differences in the elective modules you can choose from so it is worth going to different TAFE open days and/or checking out websites to make sure the modules you want to do are available.
How do I apply for TAFE courses?
Full-time Diploma courses are applied for through QTAC (you do not need an OP to apply). 
To apply for part time Diploma courses and Certificate courses you must get an application form from each TAFE at which you intend to apply. You should do this in September/October.  You can apply for the same course at as many TAFEs as you want to.  Many courses also have mid-year entry so if you miss out on getting into a course, you can apply halfway through the year (May/June).
How can I use a TAFE course to upgrade into university?
Diploma courses can be used to upgrade into university courses if your OP was not good enough to get into a particular course straight from school.
At the end of one-year full time of a Diploma at TAFE, a student will get a rank that is approximately equivalent to an OP 9.  In addition, at the end of the Diploma year, students are considered to have the equivalent of a SA in English (a common university prerequisite).
You must be careful in selecting the Diploma course you study if you want to upgrade after a year.  Some Diploma courses start with Certificate level subjects in the first year.  If this happens, you will not get as high a Rank at the end of the year.  Check with the TAFE College or look in the current QTAC Guide to make sure that you will not be studying Certificate level subjects if you want to upgrade at the end of a year.
It is also possible to complete a TAFE Diploma and get up to a year off some university courses of the same type.  For example, if you complete a Diploma in Information Technology at TAFE, you may get exemptions in university IT courses that will allow you to start in the second year of the degree.
Upgrading can be complex and it is strongly recommended that students who are considering doing this should see the Guidance Officer
Where can I find out more?
Remember, it’s your future and your life!  Make the most of opportunities to learn about different tertiary institutions.  Starting points could include: 
 -  ringing a TAFE and asking them to send you out some information
 -  going to TAFE Open Days
 -  talking to the VET Coordinator or Guidance Officer
 -  checking out the TAFE website; this has links to the websites of all Queensland TAFEs 
University FAQs
What courses can I study at university?
Most school students go into a Bachelor Degree at university.  These are normally three or four years in length.  Some courses are offered at only one or two universities in Queensland (e.g. Speech Pathology is only offered at the University of Queensland).  Other courses (e.g. Arts, Science, Engineering and Business) are offered at many universities.
Why should I go to university?
University education is not for everyone – you must be prepared to commit yourself to at least three years of academic study.  A university degree is necessary for some jobs.  For other jobs, university graduates will often progress up the promotion ladder faster than non-graduates.  University graduates also tend to have a higher level of employment than non-graduates.  Despite this, don't just go to university because others say you should.  Studying at university takes a lot of commitment and you really have to want to go there.
Which university should I go to?
Although universities offer many of the same courses, when you look at the structure of these courses and the subjects available you will find that they may be quite different.
Some universities will offer a broader range of subjects.  Some will offer work experience as part of their courses.  Some have a large number of students in courses and it may be easy to feel lost.  Others are smaller and have a more personal approach.
Regional universities have OPs that tend to be lower than those for courses at Brisbane universities, allowing you to get into a course you may not normally be able to get into.
Because of these differences, it is important to check out the courses you are interested in at different universities to find out which suits you best.
How do I apply to get into university?
All applications for Queensland universities and some Northern New South Wales Universities must go through QTAC.  School leavers may do this online via the Twelve-to-Tertiary application.  See the QTAC book (given to all Year 12 students) or website for details.
Applications to interstate universities are through their respective Application Centres (e.g. VTAC for Victorian universities), which are listed below:
- New South Wales and ACT:  UAC
- Victoria:  VTAC
- South Australia and Northern Territory:  SATAC
- Western Australia:  TISC
- Tasmania:  UTAS
What is a double degree?
It is possible to do two degrees at one time.  This has the advantage of getting qualifications in two areas.  Double degrees usually take 1½ to 2 years less than the combined time of both degrees.  This reduction in time can occur because:
    -  some courses are counted as part of the course requirements for each degree
    -  in some semesters, an extra subject must be taken
Because of the extra work in some semesters, double degrees are most suitable for students who are prepared to work extra hard when they go to university.
Where do I get more information?
Remember, it's your future and your life!  Make the most of opportunities to learn about different tertiary institutions.  Starting points could include:
 -  reading the QTAC course guide/book (given to all Year 12 students)
 -  going to University Open Days
 -  talking to the Guidance Officer
 -  checking out the websites below (most of which are Queensland-based universities):
For further information regarding the cost of attending university, loans and scholarships visit Going to Uni.
Year 12 QTAC FAQs
When are QTAC applications due?
The on time due date for QTAC applications is 28 September 2012.  A late fee will apply from 1 October 2012.  The QTAC application is an online application through their website (
What if I change my mind after this date?  Can I change my preferences?
Yes.  Year 12 applicants have until 10 January 2013 to review and change their preferences for most courses (except those with a fixed closing date; see p.4 of the QTAC Guide) before the major offer round on 17 January 2013.
You change your preferences by going back into your application through the Current Applicant login on the Online Services page of the QTAC website.
Will I know my OP before the last date to change preferences?
Yes, for courses offered in the January offer round.
The Queensland Studies Authority will mail Year 12 results on 14 December.  You can wait for these results to arrive in the mail or you can access your OP via your Learning Account on the Student Connect website ( on 15 December.
You will need your LUI and PIN to enter your Learning Account.  You are advised to check out your Learning Account before 15 December!
I am OP ineligible.  When will I get my rank?
You can find out your rank by going into your application on the QTAC website (enter through the Current Applicant login) on 24 December 2012.
You will only receive your rank through QTAC.  The Queensland Studies Authority will not give it to you when you receive your Year 12 results.
How difficult is the QTAC application?
It’s quite straightforward.  Year 12s use the Twelve to Tertiary application located on the Online Services page of the QTAC website.
The application fee is $34.  It can be paid by credit card (MasterCard and Visa only), B-Pay or prepayment voucher.
There are a number of resources available to prepare you for the application:
 - page 10 of the QTAC Guide lists all the steps in the application
 - Twelve to Tertiary instructions on the Online Services page of the QTAC website
 - the ‘how to apply’ movie on the Online Services page of the QTAC website
 - the demonstration application (you can use to practise applying) on the Online Services page
What if I have a problem with my application?
First check the ‘Frequently asked questions’ on the Online Services page on the QTAC website. 
If this does not solve the problem, ring or email QTAC.  All contact information for QTAC is on the inside front cover of the QTAC Guide.
You need to be patient as QTAC is very busy at this time of the year and you will be placed on a queue.  Consequently, it is unwise to wait until the last minute to do your application!
How should I organise my preferences?
There are a number of resources to help you with this:
- page 11 of the QTAC Guide
- the ‘ordering your preferences’ movie on the Online Services page of the QTAC website
- the ‘ordering preferences’ information sheet on the QTAC website at
In general, the following points apply:
- include all six preferences if possible
- list your preferences in order of what you most want – your first preference can be your ideal even if you are not sure you will get the OP/rank required
- make sure you include safety net or foot-in-the-door courses (usually preferences five and six), which will provide you with an upgrade pathway if necessary
- do not include courses you would not do, are geographically impossible for you to get to, or for which you do not meet the prerequisites
- ensure your preferences are in chronological order according to the offer round dates on p.2 of the QTAC Guide (i.e. courses that are offered in the December offer round must be listed before courses offered in the January offer round; courses starting in semester one must be listed before courses starting in semester two or included after the January offer round).
How many courses will I be offered?
You will be offered ONE course at any given offer round through QTAC.
This course will be the highest on your list of preferences where you meet all the requirements (prerequisites and merit).
Will I get a letter in the mail from QTAC with my offer on it?

No.  You can view your offer and download a QTAC offer letter from your application on the QTAC website.  Access your application through the Current Applicant logon on the Online Services page.
What do I have to do when I receive an offer?
You must first respond to QTAC on your application via the Current Applicant logon.
Then, if you are accepting the offer, complete the enrolment requirements of the institution that has given you the offer.  If you do not respond to QTAC you can lose your offer.  Response options include:
- accepting, rejecting or deferring the offer
- conditionally accepting, rejecting or deferring an offer while still being considered for higher preferences (new or existing) in any future offer rounds
See the following resources for information on how to respond once you have received an offer:
- page 14 of the QTAC Guide
- view the ‘responding to your offer’ movie on the Online Services page of the website
- ‘offers and responses’ information sheet on the QTAC website at
What should I do if I don’t get an offer?
If you were not offered a place into one of your preferred courses in the major offer round, contact QTAC for further information about why you were not successful in gaining a place.  Reasons for not receiving an offer may include:
 - quota restrictions (that is, your OP/rank did not meet the cut-off)
 - failure to satisfy minimum entry requirements (e.g. prerequisites)
 - failure to pay QTAC processing charges
 - preferencing your desired courses incorrectly
 - not responding to an earlier offer
If you were ineligible for the courses you applied for, you may change your preferences for consideration in any subsequent offer rounds if further offers are made 
OP and FP FAQs
What is an Overall Position (OP)?
An OP is a measure of overall academic achievement at school.
It allows comparisons to be made between all students in the State, with students receiving an OP from 1 (the highest) to 25 (the lowest).
Students' school results are scaled using group (not individual) results in the Core Skills Test in order to eliminate differences due to different groups of students doing different subjects and different groups of students attending different schools.
Why do I need an OP?
You need an OP to gain access to most university courses at the end of Year 12.
You do NOT need an OP to get into a Diploma or Certificate course at TAFE.
Whether you are eligible for an OP or not, you still need to meet any prerequisites (required subjects) to get into a course.
In some circumstances, academically capable students without an OP may be eligible to get into degree courses at some universities.  If you would like to know more about this, you are advised to see the Guidance Officer.
How do I get an OP?
To be eligible for an OP, a student must:
1    choose to study at least 5 Authority subjects (an Authority subject is one that contributes to an OP, while Authority Registered and School subjects do not);
2    study 3 Authority subjects continually through both Year 11 and 12, as well as a further minimum of eight semester units of Authority subjects; and
3    sit for the Queensland Core Skills Test (QCS) in Year 12.  This is a curriculum-driven, non-subject specific examination lasting approximately seven hours over two days.  The results from these tests will be used to scale schools against each other across the State.  Your results on this test will be published on your QCE using an ‘A’ to ‘E’ scale.
If more than 20 semesters of Authority subjects are taken, only the results in the best subjects (adding up to 20 semester units) are used to calculate the OP.
What happens if I am NOT eligible for an OP?
Should students not meet the requirements to obtain an OP, they can still apply for a university course using the Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) system.  This is an alternative to the OP system for entry to tertiary study and allows students to study both Authority and Authority Registered subjects. 
A rank is determined using the levels of achievement in a student's best subjects (adding up to 20 semester units) and their individual result on the Core Skills Test.  If a student decides not to do the QCS Test their result is calculated as if they achieved the lowest result (an ‘E’).  Students receive a rank score up to 100 and use this rank to apply for courses through the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC).
TER is not an easy way to gain entry into university; it is an alternative way for those who wish to study both Authority and Authority registered subjects.  Students need to appreciate that in the calculation of the TER, Authority subjects are weighed more heavily than Authority Registered subjects.
What do I need to get into a particular tertiary course? 
To get into a particular university course, students must:
-     have an OP or rank high enough to get into the course (the OP or rank needed to get into a course is determined by supply and demand; popular course have high OPs or ranks, less popular ones have lower OPs or Ranks); and
-     have the prerequisite subjects AND levels of achievement for the course (these are listed in the annual QTAC Tertiary Prerequisites publication).
Students should ALWAYS make sure they have the prerequisite subjects for the university course because they will not even be considered (no matter how high their OP) unless they fulfil the prerequisites.
What are Field Positions (FPs)?
Because the OP does not indicate a student’s strengths in particular areas of study, Field Positions (FPs) are also calculated.  FPs rank students on their achievements in up to five areas of study (called ‘fields’):
Field A:  extended written expression involving complex analysis and synthesis of ideas;
Field B: short written communication involving reading, comprehension and expression in English or a foreign language;
Field C: basic numeracy involving simple calculations and graphical and tabular interpretation;
Field D: solving complex problems involving mathematical symbols and abstractions;
Field E:  substantial practical performance involving physical or creative arts or expressive skills.
Only students who are eligible for an OP will be eligible for FPs.  Students will be given a number from 1 to 10 in each Field for which they are eligible (1 being the highest and 10 being the lowest).  FPs are calculated in a similar way to OPs, with variation in calculations made to allow for the weight that different subjects place on different Field components.
What are Field Positions (FPs) used for?
Field Positions are only used when OPs alone cannot decide which students can be allocated to a particular course.  In recent years, FPs have been used in less than 2% of cases so therefore tend to affect only a very small percentage of students.  
Although it is impossible to predict which courses will use FPs for entry, the courses most likely to go FPs are:
 -  health courses such as Medicine, Dentistry and Optometry;
 -  courses with high OP entry (4 or above); and
 -  courses with small quotas (up to 40 or 50).
How important are Field Positions (FPs)?
The Primary and Secondary Fields used for selection within OP bands for each course are shown in the annual QTAC Tertiary Prerequisites publication.  It is important to remember that you do NOT have to be eligible for the Primary and Secondary Fields to apply for or be offered a place in a course.  It is only if you are in the cut-off OP band and FPs are used to decide who gets into a course that you could miss out if you do not have the Primary or Secondary Fields.
If a student has a good idea of what course they might like to do, it is wise to choose subjects that will enable them to be eligible for the Primary and Secondary Fields for that course.  However, if being eligible for one of those Fields means taking subjects that a student is not good at or doesn't like, it is better not to worry about the FPs.  The most important thing is to make sure that students pick subjects that will in which they can achieve the best results so that they can obtain a higher OP and have the best choice of courses.
Understanding OPs, Ranks and FPs and their calculations is not easy.
If you have any other questions about these, contact the Guidance Officer


What is the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE)?
The Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) is Queensland’s senior schooling qualification.  It is based on post-Year 10 study and shows that an individual has achieved a specific standard of education at senior level.  It is awarded to eligible students, usually at the end of Year 12.
The QCE should not be confused with the OP.  It is not used for entry to tertiary studies.
The QCE is assumed to be for consideration of the general community, particularly employers.
The QCE has no different levels or grades.  You either meet the requirements to receive a QCE or you do not.
How do I get a QCE?
To be eligible to receive a QCE, an individual must:
  - have completed a set amount of study,
  - at a set standard, and
  - have achieved set literacy and numeracy levels.
The ‘amount’ of learning required is 20 points.  More than 20 points does not give any advantage.  At least 12 points must come from what are called ‘core’ areas (at least 3 subjects must be completed for 4 consecutive semesters).  In the majority of instances, students will gain their points from Authority subjects, Authority registered subjects and, sometimes, VET certificates.
To satisfy the ‘standard’ of learning criterion, individuals must have achieved a minimum exit level of SA (sound achievement) for Authority and Authority registered subjects, and competency for VET certificates.
The literacy and numeracy requirement is most commonly met by achieving a minimum of an SA for at least one semester in an English subject and a minimum of an SA for at least one semester in a mathematics subject.  Achieving a C on the Queensland Core Skills (QCS) test also meets the literacy and numeracy requirement.
It is hoped that students will meet the requirements to receive a QCE by the time they leave school at the end of Year 12.  If individuals have not met these requirements when they leave school, they have a further 7 years after leaving Year 12 in which to do so.
Where can I find out more?
If you have questions about the QCE, it may be helpful to talk to your teachers, year level coordinator, head of senior schooling or guidance officer.
You could also visit the following websites:
-     Student Connect:  track your progress towards a QCE in your learning account
-     Queensland Studies Authority (QSA):  a link to the QCE pages is located on the QSA homepage
Career Info and Links
Students will be at different stages of career planning.   Some may know the exact career and even course that they are working towards.  Others may not even be sure what industry they would like to explore.  The following websites provide some information for students, no matter what stage of planning they are at.
Please note that the websites provided below are only a starting point, and as with any website the content should be cross referenced with other resources for accuracy.  If you would like to discuss career pathways please book an appointment with the Guidance Officer.
Career Planning
The State and Federal Governments have a range of useful websites that can assist students in their career planning.  These sites offer career quizzes, information on specific jobs (including how much you can expect to be paid), tips in preparing resumes and how to handle those tough job interviews. 
World of Work
Below are just some of the websites available to you to find out more about careers in specific industry areas:
Auto Careers
Aviation Industry
Construction Industry
Defence Jobs
Electrical & Electronics
Film & TV Industry
Federal:   Government Skills
Federal:   ASIC
Federal:  ABS
State:  Jobs
Local:  Jobs directory
Health & Community Services
Information Technology
Marine Science
Media & Journalism
Music Industry
Queensland Police
Real Estate
Recreation Industry
Teaching Careers
Transport & Logistics
Tourism & Hospitality
If you are thinking of undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship after school, the following websites may be useful:
Some websites for understanding working conditions: