• Home >
  • My VCE Guide > How VCE works > The facts

​​How VCE works – The facts

How is VCE structured?

The VCE course is made up of studies and units, some of which must be studied as a sequence.

A study is a subject, for example, English or Biology. It is made up of four units (Units 1, 2, 3 and 4), each of which is a semester in length.

For most students, VCE is completed over two years.

Students typically study Units 1 and 2 in their first year, and Units 3 and 4 in their second year.

You can study Unit 1 or Unit 2 of a subject as stand-alone units. However, you must enrol in Units 3 and 4 of a study as a sequence. This sequence needs to be completed in the same year if a study score is to be calculated.

Students usually study from 20 to 24 units (five or six studies) in Years 11 and 12.

You can take longer than two years to finish VCE if you need to. Some students start VCE in Year 10, and some study Units 3 and 4 in Year 11.

You should talk to your teachers or careers counsellor about how to structure your VCE program to best meet your needs.

What studies can I choose?

You have a variety of study options in VCE through which you can pursue your interests and build your skills.

There are over 90 VCE studies and over 20 VCE VET (Vocational Education and Training) programs for you to choose from across the humanities, sciences, mathematics, technology, arts and languages, as well as vocational studies.

Each school decides which VCE studies and VET programs it will offer. If your school doesn’t offer your chosen studies, they might be available from another provider.

You may want to consider Distance Education Centre Victoria or the Victorian School of Languages, or you can speak to your VCE coordinator about other options.

What do I have to do to achieve my VCE?

To achieve your VCE you must successfully complete 16 units including:

  • three units from the English group, two of which must be a Unit 3 and 4 sequence.
  • at least three additional Unit 3 and 4 sequences.

Your teacher can explain the differences between the English group studies, or you can find out more about them on the VCAA website.

You can complete the remaining units, including the three sequences at Unit 3 and 4 level, in any study that interests you. This could even be an additional English group study on top of the units you take to meet the minimum English requirement.

Your teacher determines if you have satisfactorily completed a unit based on the work you produce and submit and your adherence to VCAA and school rules.

How do I achieve marks in the VCE?

Units 1 and 2 are marked by your school; your teachers will set a range of assessments to see how you are progressing. The assessments have deadlines and you will need to plan and submit your work on time. Deadlines can only be extended in special circumstances.

For Units 1 and 2 you will receive either S (Satisfactory), or N (Non-Satisfactory). Your school may give you a grade for each unit, but only the S counts towards your VCE.

For Units 3 and 4 you will have grades calculated from A+ to E, UG (Ungraded), or NA (Not Assessed) for your assessment tasks, as well as an S or N.

There are three graded assessments for each VCE study at Unit 3 and 4 level. All VCE VET programs with scored assessment have two graded assessments.

Depending on the study, these may be School-based Assessments and/or external assessments.

School-based assessments are set by your teacher and include School-assessed Coursework (SAC) that is completed at school, and School-assessed Tasks (SAT) that are completed at school and home. These are marked at your school. The VCAA checks the marks to make sure that all schools in Victoria are marking to the same standard. You can read about the rules for marking/assessment on the VCAA website, or you can ask your teachers.

External assessments are set and marked by the VCAA. They are the same for all students taking the same VCE study. Usually this will be an exam – whether written, oral, performance or in an electronic format.

Your external assessments are marked by assessors who are experts in their area of study. All VCE studies are marked to the same standard and there are multiple checks to make sure that marking is fair.

Exams are held each year in October and November. You will receive plenty of notice about the exact dates of your exams from your school.

What is a study score?

If you obtain at least two graded assessments and achieve an S for both Units 3 and 4 in a study in the same year, you will receive a study score. A study score is a number between 0 and 50 that indicates your ranking in terms of all students doing that study in that year.

What is an ATAR?

Tertiary institutions look at the ATAR and the combinations of VCE studies students have completed before offering places.

The ATAR is calculated by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) on the basis of study scores and is presented as a ranking between 0.00 and 99.95.

If you want to obtain an ATAR, you need to have at least four study scores, one of which must be from the English group.

You can find out more information about the ATAR, subject combinations and course choices through VTAC.

What is the GAT and why is it important?

All students studying at least one Unit 3 and 4 VCE study (or scored VCE VET study) must sit the General Achievement Test (GAT). The GAT measures your general knowledge and skills in written communication, mathematics, science, technology, humanities, the arts and social sciences.

Although the results do not count directly towards your VCE results, they play an important role in checking that school-based and external assessments have been fairly and accurately assessed.

The GAT may also be used to determine Derived Examination Scores for students who are ill or affected by other personal circumstances at the time of a VCE external assessment and whose result is unlikely to be a fair or accurate indication of their learning or achievement.