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

Studies in the humanities, sciences, mathematics, technology, the arts and languages, as well as vocational studies are available in this world class, internationally recognised education qualification.

In 2021, the VCE curriculum will offer more than 90 subjects and 26 VCE VET programs.

This range of subjects is why most Victorian students choose to study for the VCE to complete their secondary schooling.

And the VCE is a study of choice for many students outside Australia, including in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu.

How is the VCE structured?

The VCE course is made up of studies (or subjects; for example, English or Biology) structured as units.

Each study is made up of four units (Units 1, 2, 3 and 4). A unit is a semester in length.

Most students complete their VCE over two years. These students typically study Units 1 and 2 of a subject in Year 11 and Units 3 and 4 in Year 12.

You can study Units 1 and 2 of a subject as a sequence or separate units, but these units don’t qualify for a study score. Completing Units 3 and 4 as a sequence in the same year qualifies for a study score.

How many units are required?

Students usually study between 20 and 24 units (five or six studies) across Years 11 and 12.

You can take more than two years to complete your VCE. 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.

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

What studies can I choose?

Each school decides which VCE studies and VET programs it will offer from more than 90 VCE subjects and 26 VCE VET programs. If your school doesn’t offer what you want, it might be available from another school or VCE provider.

You may want to consider Virtual School 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?

You must successfully complete 16 units, including:

  • three units from the English group, including a Unit 3 and 4 sequence
  • at least three sequences of Unit 3 and 4 studies, which can include further sequences from the English group.

Your teacher can explain the differences between the English group studies.

You can complete the remaining units required for your VCE (that is, at least three sequences of Unit 3 and 4) in any study. This could even be an additional English group study on top of the units you take to meet the minimum English requirement.

Who decides whether I have satisfactorily completed a unit?

Your teacher determines whether or not you have satisfactorily completed a unit, based on the work you submitted and whether or not you followed VCAA and school rules.

How should I decide which VCE studies to do?

Choose studies that:

  • interest you
  • you are good at
  • will help you pursue a post-school pathway of your choice, such as a university or tertiary and further education (TAFE) course.

Read the list of VCE studies. Individual schools do not offer all of these studies. Check which studies your school offers.

How is my VCE work marked?

Units 1 and 2 are marked by your school; your teachers 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 study, there are three graded assessments for Unit 3 and Unit 4.

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 following the requirements set by the VCAA in the relevant study design. They include:

  • school-assessed coursework (SAC), which is completed at school
  • school-assessed tasks (SATs), which are completed at school and home.

Your teacher marks both SACs and SATs.

School-based assessments at a Unit 3 and 4 level are statistically moderated by the VCAA. You can read about the rules for assessment and the reasons for statistical moderation 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 examination – written, oral, performance or in an electronic format.

Your external assessments are marked by assessors who are experts in the subject. All VCE studies are marked to the same standard and multiple checks ensure that marking is fair and correct.

Examinations are in October and November. Your school will give you plenty of notice about the exact dates of your examinations.

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

Yes. If you repeat a unit you must do the full unit, including all assessments.

There is no penalty for repeating a unit, but you can only count the unit once towards satisfactory completion of the VCE.

What is a study score?

A study score is a number between 0 and 50 that indicates your ranking in relation to all students doing that study in that year.

You will receive 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.

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

Yes. Repeating a study at the Unit 3 and 4 level can improve your study score and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

How do I get into university or TAFE?

To get into university, you generally need to achieve study scores set by the university and have an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). To get into some TAFE courses you may also need a study score.

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 presented as a figure (or ranking) between 0.00 and 99.95.

Before offering places, tertiary institutions look at each student’s ATAR and the combination of VCE studies they have completed.

To qualify for an ATAR, you need to have at least four study scores; one must be from the English group.

Your ATAR is calculated by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). You can find out more about the ATAR, subject combinations and course choices through VTAC.

What is a notional ATAR?

Notional ATARs are used to rank applicants who have:

  • obtained another qualification in Victoria, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB). An ATAR is calculated for IB students who complete the General Achievement Test (GAT), which is explained in the next section
  • previous Victorian Year 12 results (other than VCE results)
  • completed at least one Unit 3 and 4 study outside of a January to December timetable
  • undertaken interstate studies.

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 treated as equivalent.

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) are expected to sit the GAT. This midyear test measures your general knowledge and skills in written communication, mathematics, science, technology, humanities, the arts and social sciences.

Your GAT results do not count directly towards your VCE, but are used as part of 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 a student who is 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.

How will I receive my results?

All students enrolled in VCE studies 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 study, the VCAA will mail your results to your home. Your statement will include the overall grade for your school-based and external assessments.

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

Students who sit the GAT will also receive a Statement of Results for that test.

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

Yes. For more information, read the VET and apprenticeship and traineeship sections of this booklet.