Which VCE English Subject Should You Choose?

Which VCE English Subject Should You Choose?

This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.


An important choice for every VCE student is which English subject(s) they pick! I studied English Language for one semester but then ultimately opted for mainstream English and Literature in Year 12. I know that making the choice between the three can be confusing, so let's break down the main differences.

All three subjects are essentially different. No single subject is the best fit for everyone: you need to take into account your own preferences and learning style.

Option 1: Mainstream English

Skills you should have or aim to develop: analysis and comparison of texts on a character/idea-based level, as well as what specifically makes a text persuasive.

Mainstream English is generally assumed to be the choice for everyone, but it definitely isn't suited to all! Although it gets labelled the “easiest" option out of the three, if you hate picking apart themes, it might not be the best fit for you. English is based around essay-writing, and you need to be able to adapt to write a few different styles of essay: creative, responding to and comparing texts, as well as analysing persuasive texts. However, if you are just aiming to score over 25, and have reason to be worried about this, mainstream English is most likely the best option.

Option 2: Literature

Skills you should have or aim to develop: very close analysis of more classic texts based on characters/ideas, as well as analysing socio-historical perspectives surrounding the texts.

Literature is a subject for the bookworm. If looking deeply into complex ideas underpinning texts excites you, then you will love Literature. Although a demanding subject, Literature allows a level of freedom in writing and structure which is not possible in the rigidity of mainstream English. Keep in mind that it is a subject which demands a lot of creativity if you're aiming for a high score, and that competition is much higher than in mainstream English. But that said, an authentic interest in the subject is strongly rewarded in Literature.

Option 3: English Language

Skills you should have or aim to develop: analysis of features of language, taking form, structure and context into account, and looking at how they contribute to the nature of communication.

It is often said that science/maths-inclined students should pick English Language, because it tends to be more analytical and focused upon concepts which are perhaps less abstract. This is true for some, however, you should only choose English Language if you have a genuine interest in its subject matter! You shouldn't pick English Language just because you don't like reading… If you hate anything to do with writing, mainstream English is probably a better choice. Like Literature, the competition in English Language is definitely higher, but don't let it discourage you if you have a real passion for the study of language.

Don't forget that you can undertake more than one English study! Often, skills between them are transferrable. But remember, they are definitely essentially different.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: “I went from below 50% in my practice exam to an A+ in the exam”: Interview with a High-Achieving Student, Parent"s Survival Guide – How to Remain Sane & Supportive! and A Brief Analysis Of Formal Language In A Recent Political Interview.


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all HSC, WACE, VCE & SACE subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic HSC, WACE, VCE & SACE tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

Which VCE English Subject Should You Choose?