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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 – such as English and Biology – structured as units. Most subjects are made up of four units: Units 1, 2, 3 and 4. A unit is one semester long.

Most students finish their VCE over two years. Most 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 as separate units, but these units alone don’t qualify for a study score. Completing Units 3 and 4 as a sequence in the same year qualifies for a study score.

What subjects can I choose?

There are more than 90 VCE subjects and 26 VCE VET programs. 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 VCE provider.

You may want to consider Virtual School Victoria or the Victorian School of Languages. You can speak to your VCE coordinator about these and other options.

What do I have to do to achieve my VCE?

You must successfully complete at least 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 subjects.

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

Your teacher can explain the differences between the English group subjects. Or you can find out more about the English requirement for VCE.

You can choose the remaining units needed for your VCE – at least three 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 two 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 a teacher or careers counsellor about how to structure your VCE program to best suit you.

Who decides if I have satisfactorily completed a 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.

Read loads more information about the VCE assessment process.

For each VCE subject, 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 subject, these may be school-based assessments, external assessments or a mix of both.

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

  • school-assessed coursework (SAC) is 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) are 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. This helps make sure the marking system is fair to everybody doing the same subject, no matter which school they go to. Read more about statistical moderation and how it’s done or ask your teacher.

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. However, Music Style and Composition and Extended Investigation also have an externally assessed task.

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

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

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

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

There is no penalty 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 same year.

What is a study score?

A study score is a number between 0 and 50 that indicates your ranking in relation to all other students doing that subject in that year. See more information on statistical moderation.

You will receive a study score if you:

  • obtain at least two 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. Repeating a subject at a Unit 3 and 4 level can improve your study score and your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

How do I get into university or TAFE?

To get into university, you generally need to have an ATAR and achieve a study score requirement set by the university. Each university decides the 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.

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 look at each student’s ATAR and the combination of VCE subjects they finished.

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

The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) calculates your ATAR. See the VTAC website for more about the ATAR, subject combinations and course choices.

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), which is explained in the next section
  • previous Victorian Year 12 results (other than VCE results)
  • 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 treated as equal.

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) are expected to sit the General Achievement Test (GAT). The GAT measures your general knowledge and skills in written communication, mathematics, science, technology, humanities, arts and social sciences.

From 2022 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. 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 ‘Derived Examination Scores’ if you are ill or affected by other circumstances during a VCE external assessment, and if your result is unlikely to be a fair or accurate indication of your learning or achievement.

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 this 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.

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.

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

Yes. Read more about VET – the many possible subjects and much more information.

Higher Education Study in the VCE

If you’ve done well in your subjects and want to extend yourself, 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 the VCE Studies webpage 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 one of many awards and forms 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 score of 30 or above for English, Literature or English Language, or a study score of 33 for English as an Additional Language
  • a VCE Languages subject
  • VCE Mathematical Methods or Specialist Mathematics
  • study scores for at least two 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. These include:

You can also find out more about these from your school.