Creating efficient timetables for subject selection

When it comes to subject selection, it can be hard to cater for every request and create a timetable that works. Ideally, every student gets their preferred subjects, but this isn’t always possible.

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Tips for better subject selection

Here are our top 10 tips for better subject selection:

  1. Test the process

    Get the form ready early and test, test, test. Test the rules and co-requisite requirements you are enforcing and ask other teachers to test the form too. You can always amend the form at a later stage if you need to or if things change. Just make sure you test again before sending.

  2. Emphasise the importance of the reserve preferences to the students

    Make sure the students know that if they miss out on a main preference their reserves may come into play, and as a result, they should think seriously about their reserve preferences and the order in which they give them. The reserve preferences can reduce the amount of student counselling you have to do if a student misses out on main preferences, so this can make your job easier as well as ensuring that the students get into the courses they want.

  3. Involve parents in the process

    Many schools hold subject selection evenings where they talk through the process with both the parents and the students.

  4. Ensure students select an adequate number of reserve preferences

    Depending on the number of overall preferences you are requiring, ensure you collect an adequate number of reserve preferences as well. If you are getting the students to select six-seven main preferences, then you should also collect at least three reserve preferences. If they are only selecting two or three main preferences, then two reserve preferences should be sufficient.
  5. Collect student preferences

    Students should be given the opportunity to select subjects based on their relative importance to the student. For a student that wants to be an engineer, ensuring they get their maths and physics preferences will be more important than getting their modern history preference for example, so these should be listed higher in their priority order. This valuable information is lost if students are forced to select from pre-set lines.
  6. Make pattern of study rules clear

    Are there any education department study rules that are required to be enforced or do you want to include any school-imposed rules? For example, some schools may wish to restrict the number of subjects students can select that have a major work component, so the students are not under too much pressure to complete major works between studying and classes.
  7. Make co-requisite courses clear

    Are there any courses where a student needs to select subject A to be able to also select subject B? If so, set these up as core requisite course requests in your form.
  8. Outline forbidden courses

    Are there any subjects you don’t want a student to study? Upload a list of forbidden courses, to prevent students from selecting these subjects.
  9. Communicate alternate pathways

    Not all students wish to go to University. Some may wish to study subjects that can be combined with other studies outside of school, which may have a different set of rules and constraints that need to be applied to the selection process. In this case, consider implementing form streams, so that students choose the correct form based on their desired path of study.
  10. Check your course list

    Are all of the courses you are offering listed? Do any of them need to change, or do you need to add new ones in?


Edval Timetable

Looking for a simpler system for subject selection? Edval Timetable is a workflow optimisation tool that enables schools to write efficient timetables that satisfy the needs of teachers, students and school leaders in less time.

Some of the many advantages to using Edval Timetable include:

  • Your school can ensure students submit preferences that meet school rules and requirements 

  • No data entry errors

  • Fewer student follow-ups required by capturing reserve preferences

  • Reports are available to help the decision-making processes