VCE - The Victorian Certificate of Education

Share

The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is one of the qualifications you can get if you finish Year 11 and 12 at high school in Victoria. After completing the VCE students get an ATAR score to use to apply for university or TAFE.

We can't answer questions about subjects or subject choices. If your question isn't answered here: 

Topics on this page include:

> Choosing your VCE subjects 
> What is the ATAR?
> High VCE scores
> VCE Assessment
> Getting Your VCE Results
What Happens if You Don’t Pass?
> Switching between VCE and VCAL
> VET in the VCE
> Links

Choosing your VCE subjects 

There are more than 90 VCE subjects (also called “studies”). VCE students usually do 20 to 24 subjects over two years from Year 11 to Year 12. Year 11 is often called Unit 1/2 of the VCE, while Year 12 is called Unit 3/4.

When picking subjects for VCE, think about:

  • What interests you
  • What you're good at
  • If the subject leads to a job you are interested in
  • If the subject prepares you for training or tertiary courses you want to do

The best way to pick subjects is to work backwards.

Think about a job you'd like to do, then find out what skills or qualifications you need. Start your research with our Career profiles.

For more about VCE subjects, visit the List of studies on the VCAA website (new window).

What if my school doesn’t offer the subject I want?

Each school picks which VCE subjects to teach. If you want to do a subject your school doesn’t offer, you could do it through:

Talk to your teachers or year level co-ordinator about this option.

You could also transfer to a school that offers the subjects you want. This is a big decision. Discuss it with your parents/guardians and teachers before deciding.

For more about changing schools, contact the VCAA on 1800 134 197 or vcaa@edumail.vic.gov.au.

back to top of page

What is the ATAR?

The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) is calculated by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). Universities and TAFEs use it when accepting students into their courses.

The ATAR isn't a score out of 100 - it's a ranking. It shows your achievement in relation to other students. For example:

  • A 65 ATAR means you did better than 65% of all other students that year 
  • A 50 ATAR means you did better than 50% of all other students that year
  • A 74 ATAR means you did better than 74% or all other students that year

VTAC calculates your ATAR and sends it to all the institutions whose courses you've put down as preferences.

To find out more about applying for tertiary study, visit our VTAC page. For more about how the ATAR is used for selection, visit VTAC's Year 12 and ATAR pages (new window).

How is the ATAR calculated?

VTAC uses the VCE results issued by the VCAA to calculate the ATAR.

Your results in each of your year 12 subjects get scaled against the results of every other Year 12 student in that subject that year. This gives an ATAR subject score for each subject. 

Your final ATAR is calculated by adding:

  • Your ATAR score for one of English, English Language, Literature or ESL
  • Your next best three ATAR subject scores
  • 10% of your fifth ATAR subject score (if you did five subjects)
  • 10% of your sixth ATAR subject score (if you did six subjects)

For more about how the ATAR is calculated, visit VTAC's Year 12 and ATAR pages (new window)

back to top of page

High VCE scores

Because the ATAR is a ranking out of 100 and not a score, it doesn't mean much to talk about "high" ATARs. The idea of an "average" or "top" VCE result also doesn't mean much.

If you want something to compare your ATAR to, you could look at:

  • The "clearly-in" score - this score is included with most course descriptions in VTAC's list of courses, showing the ATAR last year's applicants needed to be offered a place in that course
  • The "% below" score - this score is sometimes included with course descriptions, showing what percentage of applicants were offered a place in that course even though their ATAR was under the "clearly-in" score

Not all course descriptions include "clearly-in" or "% below" scores. Selection for some courses is based on other requirements as well (for example, auditions, interviews, application forms or folios).

You can search for courses and course descriptions to find if a "clearly-in" score has been provided using VTAC's CourseSearch tool (new window).

back to top of page

VCE Assessment - SATs, SACs, exams & the GAT

When you do VCE you're assessed:

  • Internally by your school (using SACs and SATs)
  • Externally through the VCAA (using exams) 

In Year 11 all assessment is internal. In Year 12 assessment is internal and external.

For some tips on study and exam survival, visit our Studying Tips & Resources section.

Internal Assessment - SATs & SACs

Internal assessment for VCE involves SACs (“school assessed coursework”) and SATs (“school assessed tasks”).

  • SACs are tasks set by your school that have to be done (mainly) in class, like essays or case studies. Every VCE subject has at least one SAC.
  • SATs are practical tasks examined at school, like projects for tech subjects or folios for art subjects. Not all VCE subjects involve SATs.

External Assessment - exams

External assessment takes place in Year 12 in the form of exams.‚Äč Most exams are written exams, except for:

  • Oral exams for subjects in LOTE ("languages other than English") subjects
  • Performance exams for music subjects 

For more about VCE exams, including copies of previous exams and exam timetables, visit the VCAA's Examinations and Assessment pages (new window).

General Achievement Test (GAT)

The General Achievement Test (GAT) (new window) is a test of general knowledge and skills in:

  • Written communication
  • Mathematics, science and technology
  • Humanities, the arts and social sciences

Each area represents knowledge and skills you're likely to have built up at school.

The GAT is used to check that school assessments and exams have all been accurately assessed. It's also used to standardise ATAR scores. All students in Year 12 are expected to sit the GAT.

back to top of page

Getting your VCE results

If you're a current VCE student, at the end of the year you will be sent a text containing your:

  • VCE study scores
  • ATAR score
  • ATAR subject scores 

All VCE students get a statement of VCE study scores from the VCAA, but only students who've applied for tertiary courses through VTAC get an ATAR statement.

Visit our VTAC page for more about dealing with VTAC.

back to top of page

What happens if you don’t pass VCE?

Technically you can’t “fail” VCE. The two things people usually mean when they talk about failing VCE are: 

  1. Not completing enough subjects to get an ATAR
  2. ending up with an ATAR lower than you hoped

There are ways to deal with each of these situations.

1. If You didn’t complete enough VCE subjects

To complete VCE you need to complete a minimum of 16 subjects across year 11 and 12. It doesn’t matter what your results are – as long as you complete all of your subjects, you'll get your VCE.

If you don’t complete enough subjects to finish VCE, you’ll be sent a letter saying so. You also won’t get an ATAR.

If this happens to you, you can always finish VCE – and get an ATAR - by going back to school to do more subjects. Whether you do this at your existing school, or enrol in a new school, is up to you.

For more information about completing enough subjects, talk to your school careers advisor or call the VCAA on 1800 134 197.

2. If you didn’t get the ATAR you needed

If you don’t get an ATAR high enough to get into the course you wanted, you can always get advice from your school.

On the day VCE results come out, most schools provide an opportunity to discuss your options. This might include a review of your course preferences.

For more information about changing your preferences, visit our A Guide to Changing Your Preferences page.

Getting advice about VCE results

If you need advice you can call the Post Results and ATAR Service (PRAS) enquiry line. PRAS staff are trained to answer questions about VCE results and tertiary admissions.

PRAS operates for a limited time each November, usually the three days after VCE results come out. 

Making an appeal

If you think there’s something wrong with your results, you can appeal. To make an appeal you can either:

  • Use the appeal form sent to every VCE student with their results
  • Talk to PRAS staff (during their time of operation) about how to appeal
  • Call VTAC on 1300 364 133 or contact them via their contact form (new window)

back to top of page

Switching between VCE and VCAL

The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) is an option for year 11 and 12 students who aren’t planning on doing tertiary study. It gives you practical training and the skills to go on to further training.

If you want to, you can change from doing VCE to doing VCAL, or from doing VCAL to doing VCE.

  • If you've started VCE and you want to change to VCAL, any VCE or VET subjects you've passed will count towards your VCAL.
  • If you've started VCAL and want to switch to VCE, any VCE subjects you've passed as part of your VCAL will count towards your VCE.

For more information about switching between VCE and VCAL, talk to your school career counsellor.

For more about VCAL, visit our VCAL page.

back to top of page

VCE and VET

Some VCE subjects are Vocational Education and Training (VET) subjects that give you a nationally recognised industry qualification.

That means when you get your VCE, you also have extra qualifications that could lead to a job straight away.

VET subjects include things like:

  • Hospitality
  • Agriculture
  • Information technology
  • Engineering

For more about VET, visit our VET page.

You can also choose to do a School-based Apprenticeship while doing VCE. For more information visit our School-based Apprenticeships page.

back to top of page

Links

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority - VCE
The VCAA has a wide range of information about VCE, including subjects, exam timetables and study resources.

Learn About the VCE - Department of Education and Training
The Victorian Government provides information about the VCE including help with homework and what happens after school finishes.

back to top of page