Fast-tracking doesn’t suit every student and can actually disadvantage some. There are quite a few issues to consider rather than automatically assuming that your teenager should queue up to jump on that express train. Above all, always listen carefully to the advice from your teenager’s school.
Advice from schools about whether teens should fast-track or not is given to protect students not hinder them. Good advice helps students maximise their final academic scores while being happy rather than stressed and overanxious. Think very carefully before going against advice from schools. It is always well-intentioned and based on years of experience seeing students who have thrived while accelerating as well as seeing others who have suffered because accelerating was taking on too much.
Apart from formal SEAL Programs (Special Entry Accelerated Learning), students can elect to fast-track in the final years at school by completing a Year 10 subject in Year 9, a Year 11 subject in Year 10 and even a Year 12 subject in Year 11. Once again, this can be a fantastic option for some students but a mistake for others. Some students really love taking a subject a year ahead while other are simply not ready emotionally or academically. Listen to the advice your school gives and don’t worry if the school doesn’t recommend that your teen fast-tracks.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider…
Advantages of fast-tracking
- Taking a Year 10 subject in Year 9, a Year 11 subject in Year 10 and even a Year 12 subject in Year 11 gives students a TASTE of what is ahead and can motivate them to settle into good study habits.
- By taking a subject they love at the higher level, students’ self-esteem can be increased. Some students see it as a challenge and a thrill to be undertaking a subject at a higher level.
- Being in a class for one subject with students who are a year older can help teenagers mature and take school even more seriously as they see the good study habits of older peers.
- Students who take a Year 12 subject in Year 11 then have an additional subject which contributes to their overall ATAR score. Some students do very well in the Year 12 subject they complete in Year 11. This score can even be one of their top 4 studies and used in the calculation of their ATAR.
Disadvantages of fast-tracking
- If a student is not strong academically, taking one subject at a higher level can tip them over the edge. This can actually disadvantage a student who is struggling to do well in current subjects as well as the higher subject they have chosen. Schools generally advise students not to include a subject from a higher year level if this would place too much stress on them. It’s very important to take the advice offered.
- Sometimes students believe that unless they take a Year 12 subject in Year 11, their ATAR will not be as high as the ATAR of students who have an extra Year 12 subject. This is not true. Quality is more important than quantity. Five Year 12 subjects completed well in the final year at school will result in a higher ATAR than one completed well in Year 11 but the stress that this has created lowers the results in crucial Year 11 subjects such as English. A student in this position would be entering Year 12 with a rocky foundation because the Year 12 subject completed a year early has drained an unfair amount of time away from important Year 11 subjects. Year 11 is the foundation for Year 12 and it is important that students have time to consolidate skills and knowledge that will help them do well in Year 12. Fast-tracking isn’t always a good idea.