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VCE and
VCE Vocational Major

The VCE opens pathways to tertiary education, advanced certificate courses and the workforce.

The VCE is a highly-regarded qualification recognised all over the world. It offers studies in humanities, science, mathematics, technologies, arts, physical education and languages, as well as vocational studies.

In 2022, the VCE curriculum will offer more than 90 subjects and 26 VCE vocational education and training (VET) programs.

Many Victorian students choose to finish secondary school studying the VCE because of its range of subjects and pathways.

Quick explainer

The VCE is the Victorian Certificate of Education. Successfully completing the VCE and achieving study scores in four subjects will give you an ATAR, which will help you get into university.

How is the VCE structured?

The VCE course is made up of subjects – like English and Biology – that are broken up into units. Most subjects are made up of 4 units: Units 1, 2, 3 and 4. A unit is one semester long.

Most students finish their VCE over 2 years. Units 1 and 2 of a subject are usually completed in Year 11, and Units 3 and 4 in Year 12.

You can study Units 1 and 2 of a VCE subject but you don’t get a study score by just finishing Units 1 and 2. If you complete Units 3 and 4 as a sequence in the same year, you can achieve a study score. A Unit 3 and 4 sequence means that you must undertake Unit 3 followed by Unit 4.

What subjects can I choose?

Each school decides what subjects and programs it offers. If your school doesn’t offer what you want, it might be available from another school or provider.

You may want to consider Virtual School Victoria or the Victorian School of Languages or other options like an Registered Training Organisation (RTO). Speak to your teacher about this.

What do I have to do to achieve my VCE?

You must successfully complete at least 16 units, including:

  • 3 units from the English group, including a Unit 3 and 4 sequence
  • at least 3 other sequences of Unit 3 and 4 subjects.

Most students study between 20 and 24 units, that’s 5 or 6 subjects, across Years 11 and 12.

There are 5 subjects in the English group. They are English and English as an Additional Language, English Language, Foundation English, Literature, and VCE VM Literacy (only available for students enrolled in the VCE VM). You can read about the differences between the English group subjects or ask your teacher to explain it to you.

You can choose the remaining units needed for your VCE – at least 3 sequences of Units 3 and 4 in any subject. This could even be an extra English group subject on top of your minimum English units.

You can complete your VCE over more than 2 years. For example, some students start the VCE in Year 10 with Units 1 and 2 of a subject and study Units 3 and 4 in Year 11.

Talk to your teacher or careers practitioner about how to structure your VCE program to best suit you.

Who decides if I have satisfactorily completed a VCE or VCE VM unit?

Your teacher determines if you have satisfactorily met the outcomes of a unit. This decision is based on the work you submitted and if you followed the VCAA and school rules and procedures.

How should I decide which VCE subjects to do?

Choose subjects that:

  • interest you
  • you are good at
  • will help you do what you want after school – apply for university or a TAFE course, or get a job in your chosen field.

How is my VCE work marked?

Units 1 and 2 are marked by your school. Your teacher will set a range of assessments.

For Units 1 and 2 you will receive either S (satisfactory) or N (not satisfactory). Only the S counts towards your VCE.

Grades for Units 3 and 4 are more complicated. For Units 3 and 4 you will have grades calculated from A+ to E, or UG (ungraded) or NA (not assessed) for your assessment tasks, as well as an S or N.

For each VCE subject, there are 3 graded assessments for Unit 3 and Unit 4. Not all VCE VET programs have scored assessments. Those that do have 2 graded assessments.

Depending on the subject, these may be school-based assessments, external assessments or a mix of both.

There are 2 kinds of school-based assessments. They are:

  • school-assessed coursework (SAC) – a set of assessment tasks that test your level of achievement in Units 3 and 4 outcomes of the study design
  • school-assessed tasks (SATs) – set by the VCAA to test your practical skills and knowledge across the Units 3 and 4 outcomes of the study design.

Your teacher marks both SACs and SATs.

The VCAA statistically moderates school-based assessments at a Unit 3 and 4 level of all VCE subjects and VCE VET scored assessment programs. This helps make sure the marking system is fair to everybody doing the same subject, no matter which school they go to or who teaches them. School-based assessments are created by teachers, so it differs from school to school. The benefits of statistical moderation make school-based assessment results fair and equitable for all students.

External assessments are set and marked by the VCAA. They are the same for all students taking the same VCE subject. Usually this will be an examination – written, oral, performance, or in an electronic format. Music Composition, Music Inquiry and Extended Investigation also have an externally assessed task. You may be asked to submit a folio that contains exercises, an original work, audio recordings and documentation described in examination specifications published by the VCAA each year for an externally assessed task.

Subject experts mark your external assessments. All VCE subjects are marked to the same standard and go through many checks to make sure marking is fair and correct.

Exams are held in October and November. Your school will give you plenty of notice of your exact exam dates.

You can read more information about VCE assessment process.

What is unscored VCE?

Typically, students undertake scored assessment as part of their VCE. Scored assessment provides a more detailed record of your achievement and is the best way to maximise your chances and pathways to further education and training. However, you can complete your VCE without being assessed for graded assessments and the calculation of a study score. Remember you don’t get an ATAR if you don’t have study scores.

Can I repeat a unit if I receive an N (not satisfactory)?

Yes, you can repeat a unit in Year 11 or Year 12. If you repeat a unit, you must do the full unit again, including all assessments in a subsequent year.

There are no restrictions for repeating a unit, but you can only count the unit once towards satisfactory VCE completion. If you want to get a study score, you will need an S (satisfactory completion) for the Unit 3 and 4 sequence in the year you repeat the unit.

How do I get a study score?

You will get a study score if you:

  • get at least 2 graded assessments, and
  • achieve an S for both Units 3 and 4 of the subject, in the same year.

Can I repeat a subject to achieve a better study score?

Yes. If you have completed a Unit 3 and 4 subject before Year 12 and you want to get a better study score, you can repeat that subject. However, you may obtain credit only once for each unit. If you repeat a unit, you are required to repeat the full unit, including all assessments for the outcomes specified for the unit, in the current study design for the year of repetition. If you wish to receive a study score when repeating VCE units you will need to satisfactorily complete the Unit 3 and 4 sequence in the year of repetition.

How do I get into university or TAFE?

To get into university, you generally need to have an ATAR and achieve the prerequisite study score/s requirement set by the university for specific studies. Each university decides the prerequisite study scores and ATARs you need for the courses they offer. You may also need an ATAR to get into some higher-level VET qualifications offered at TAFE.

Many universities offer non-ATAR or alternative pathways. This could be through student folios, work experience or completion of pre-requisites set by the university.

Quick explainer

The VCE VM is a 2-year vocational and applied learning program within the VCE with specific subjects designed to prepare students for a vocational pathway

What is the VCE Vocational Major?

The VCE Vocational Major (VM) is a new vocational and applied learning program within the VCE.

The VCE VM will prepare you to move successfully into apprenticeships, traineeships, further education and training, university through alternative entry programs or directly into the workforce.

To recognise your achievements, when you’ve completed your VCE VM you will get your VCE with a Vocational Major.

How is the VCE VM structured?

The VCE VM has specific subjects designed to prepare you for a vocational pathway. They are VCE VM Literacy, VCE VM Numeracy, VCE VM Work Related Skills, and VCE VM Personal Development Skills (and 180 nominal hours of VET at Certificate II level or above).

Each subject has 4 units and each unit has a set of outcomes which are assessed through a range of learning activities and tasks.

You will apply knowledge and skills in practical settings and also undertake community-based activities and projects that involve working in a team.

What do I have to do to get my VCE VM?

You must successfully finish at least 16 units, including:

  • 3 VCE VM Literacy or VCE English units (including a Unit 3–4 sequence)
  • 2 VCE VM Numeracy or VCE Mathematics units
  • 2 VCE VM Work Related Skills units
  • 2 VCE VM Personal Development Skills units, and
  • 2 VET credits at Certificate II level or above (180 nominal hours) – read about VET on page 28.

Most students will undertake between 16–20 units over the 2 years. You must also complete a minimum of 3 other Unit 3–4 sequences. You can include other VCE subjects and VET. You can also receive structured workplace learning recognition.

Can I combine VCE subjects with VCE VM subjects?

Yes. You have to be enrolled in the VCE VM program to do VCE VM subjects. You can also do VCE subjects if you’re enrolled in the VCE VM program.

How are my VCE VM subjects marked?

Each VCE Vocational Major unit of study has specified learning outcomes. Your teacher will supervise and mark your assessments and will let you know that you’ve passed the specified learning outcomes through a range of learning activities and tasks.

Unlike other VCE subjects there are no external assessments, apart from the General Achievement Test. This means you will not get study scores or an ATAR.

Quick explainer

An ATAR is the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. It's a figure (or ranking) between 0.00 and 99.95.

What is an ATAR?

The ATAR is a figure that reflects your relative achievement compared to everyone else in Year 12. It is based on study scores and is a figure (or ranking) between 0.00 and 99.95.

Before offering places, tertiary institutions often look at each student’s ATAR and the combination of VCE subjects they finished.

To receive an ATAR you must complete 4 Unit 3 and 4 sequences, including a VCE English subject and complete the graded assessments for those subjects.

The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) calculates your ATAR. Go to VTAC for more about the ATAR and tertiary course options.

What is a notional ATAR?

Notional ATARs are used to rank applicants who have:

  • obtained the International Baccalaureate (IB). An ATAR is calculated for IB students who complete the General Achievement Test (GAT).
  • completed at least one Unit 3 and 4 subject outside a January to December timetable
  • finished interstate subjects.

A notional ATAR is treated the same way as a normal ATAR. The ‘notional’ label indicates that the ATAR was obtained in a slightly different way. For course selection and all other purposes, they are equivalent.

How will I receive my results?

If you enrolled in at least one Unit 3 and 4 subject, you will be able to see your results online through the VCE Results and ATAR service in December. Enrol and save the link to the online service for checking later.

You will also receive a Statement of Results in December.

If you undertake Units 1 and 2, your statement will be sent to your school. If you are enrolled in at least one Unit 3 and 4 subject, the VCAA will mail your statement to your home.

If you are enrolled in at least one Unit 3 and 4 subject, you may also register to receive your results by email on the morning of results release.

Your statement will include:

  • the S and N unit results
  • the grades for your Units 3 and 4 school-based and external assessments
  • your study score for your Units 3 and 4 subjects.

If you have successfully finished the VCE, you will receive a certificate, which will be sent to your school.

If you sat the GAT, your December results package will also include a Statement of Results for the GAT.

If you complete the VCE VM, you will receive your Victorian Certificate of Education – VCE Vocational Major.

Can I complete a VET qualification or school-based apprenticeship or traineeship as part of my VCE or VCE VM?

Yes. Find out about VET in this guide and the many possible programs and more information about VET.

Higher Education Study in the VCE

If you’ve done well in your subjects and want to do better, you might be able to do a Higher Education Study (HES) in Year 12.

This will give you a defined pathway into tertiary education. It can count towards your VCE and contribute to your ATAR as a fifth or sixth study. It also gives you credit for the first year of a university course in that subject.

Most major universities in Victoria offer HES. See Higher education studies in the VCE for a list of universities that offer HES and the prerequisites or other requirements for each of these studies.

Your school must approve you for the HES program. Only one HES can contribute towards your VCE.

VCE – Baccalaureate

The VCE – Baccalaureate is another form of recognition for high-achieving students and students undertaking specific study or activities.

These awards can provide opportunities and a portfolio to help your career and personal development.

The VCE – Baccalaureate recognises depth, breadth and achievement in subjects. To receive the VCE – Baccalaureate you must complete the VCE with:

  • a study score of 30 or above for English, Literature or English Language, or a study score of 33 for English as an Additional Language
  • a Unit 3–4 sequence in VCE Mathematical Methods or Specialist Mathematics
  • a Unit 3–4 sequence in a VCE Languages subject
  • study scores for at least 2 or more Unit 3 and 4 sequences.

Excellence and awards

Awards and recognition are available for high-achieving students, and students studying arts, design, technology or VCE Extended Investigation, or those involved in community service or public speaking.

Find out more about student events and awards.

What is the GAT and why is it important?

All students studying at least one Unit 3 and 4 VCE subject (or a scored VCE VET subject) as well as students doing VCE VM are expected to sit all or a section of the GAT. The GAT measures your general knowledge and skills in literacy, numeracy, mathematics, science, technology, humanities, arts and social sciences.

GAT results will include information on your performance against literacy and numeracy standards typically expected of those leaving school.

Your GAT results do not count directly towards your VCE or VCE VM, but they are used to help check that school-based and external assessments have been fairly and accurately assessed.

The GAT may also be used to calculate a derived examination score. If you are ill or affected by personal circumstances during a VCE external assessment, and if your result is unlikely to be a fair or accurate indication of your learning or achievement, you will be eligible to apply for a derived examination score.