Making your grade 9 subject choices can be a stressful process. Selecting the right subjects to study, is a decision which is important to your future and can ensure that you are able to further your studies after school – if you wanted to.

Let’s help you find peace with these 3 things you might be struggling with:

1. You don’t know what to choose

In grade 9 you will need to choose seven subjects to study from grade 10 to 12.

Four of the subjects are compulsory:

  • 1 home language;
  • 1st additional language;
  • Life orientation; and
  • Mathematics or maths literacy.

The other three subjects are selective and often depend on what your school offers. Here are some examples of what you might be able to choose from:

Accounting, Agricultural Sciences, Business Studies, Dramatic Arts, Economics, Engineering Graphics and Design, Geography, History, Consumer Studies, Information Technology, Languages (refer to institution websites for their language entry requirements), Life Sciences, Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy, Music, Physical Sciences, Religion Studies, and Visual Arts.

Look at what subjects are your favourite, or that you do well in

If you are not sure what to choose in grade 10, have a look at your existing subjects. Which ones do you enjoy? Which ones are you particularly well-suited for and get good grades in?

Chances are you enjoy these subjects and do well in them because they interest you, and hopefully that means you will be able to follow a fulfilling career based on them one day.

Do your research

If you have an idea of what sort of career you want to have one day, or what you want to study, go do your research on what subjects you will need in order to follow these dreams. Most study directions require certain criteria in order for you to get accepted. Find out which subjects you need, as well as the marks that you should obtain in order to get into your desired further education institution after high school.

Stay true to yourself

Mieke Burger, 3rd year Agronomy and Horticulture student. Photo: Dona van Eeden

“Your friend group can affect your academic choices in high school,” says Mieke Burger, 3rd year Agronomy and Horticulture student. “Stay strong in what is true to you.”

Burger knew what she wanted to study after high school and chose her subjects accordingly. She saw that many of her friends chose subjects for grade 10 just because they wanted to do what all their friends were doing, and they didn’t want to have classes where they did not have their friends with them.

If you have a passion that you want to follow, do it. Don’t let your friends influence your choices, you can still be friends even if you are not in the same classes all the time.

2. You don’t know what you want to study

One of the most stressful aspects of choosing your Grade 9 subjects is the fact that you might not know what you want to study or do when you finish school. That’s okay. But it’s still important to make an informed decision rather than playing eeni-meeni-miny-mo with your subjects.

Here’s what you can do…
  • Browse different institutions you could see yourself attending.
  • Make a list of courses you’re interested in. Rank them from the most interesting to the least. List the requirements for these courses.
  • Narrow down the choices that are most versatile and show up the most. Once you have your list, have a look at the subjects that keep showing up.


Elré Potgieter, a third-year BAgri student. Photo: Supplied

Elré Potgieter, a third-year BAgri student. 

Try to job-shadow for a week or two during your school holidays to get a feel for the job.  The more information and experience you collect, the more confident you will be in making your Grade 9 subject choice.

“I wish I had job-shadowed before I chose what I wanted to study,” says 3rd year BAgri student Elré Potgieter. “I went to university even though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, because it was expected of me.”

Two changes in study paths and three years later, Potgieter feels like she has wasted time and money on something that she found out is not what she wanted to pursue.

“I did an internship related to my studies and found out that I definitely do not want to go into that line of work.”

3. You’re not sure what you are good at

Perhaps your stress from choosing subjects stems from the fact that you’re not sure which subjects you’re best at.

In that case, choose subject combinations that will leave you with options and a bit of room to manoeuvre. There are some subject choices that will open many doors in terms of studying further, and some that will limit your choices.

Over time you will find something that makes you come alive, that inspires you to work hard and that is the subject and career that you should pursue.

4. Maths vs Maths Literacy

Many courses after high school require Maths, and not Maths Literacy, so you could be rejected based on the choice you made in Grade 9. This decision should not be taken lightly and should definitely not be based on whether you like or dislike maths. Make an informed decision about whether or not you may need Maths, in order to be accepted into a certain course.

“Just take maths,” Mieke and Elré advise. “You close so many doors if you leave it. Work hard and you can do it.”

Not all careers or degrees require maths, and if you are certain you want to follow those paths then take Maths Literacy. But if you are still unsure about what you want to study after school, it is a good idea to stick to maths. It might be difficult, but it is worth it to spend some extra time and effort on it.

Choosing subjects in grade 9 is stressful, so don’t worry if you feel that you are taking a lot of time to decide. If you follow these steps and do your research then you can feel at ease in the fact that you will make an informed decision.