Victorian Certificate of Education
The Victorian Certificate of Education or VCE is the credential awarded to secondary school students who successfully complete high school level studies (Year 11 and 12 or equivalent) in the Australian state of Victoria.
Study for the VCE is usually completed over two years, but it can be spread over a longer period in some cases. It is possible to pass and obtain the VCE without completing the end of year exams. The VCE was established in 1987, replacing the earlier Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Structure of the VCE
The Victorian Certificate of Education is generally taught in Year 11 and 12 of secondary college in Victoria, however some students commence their VCE studies in Year 10 or earlier if the school allows it.
All VCE studies are organised into units (VCE subjects typically consist of four units; each unit covers one semester of study). Each unit comprises a set number of outcomes (usually two or three); an outcome describes the knowledge and skills that a student should demonstrate by the time the student has completed the unit. Subject choice depends on each individual school. Unit 3/4 of a subject must be studied in sequential order, whereas Unit 1/2 can be mixed and matched. Students are not required to complete all the units of a subject as part of the VCE course, meaning they are able to change subject choice between Year 11 and Year 12.
On completing a unit, a student receives either a 'satisfactory' (S) or 'non-satisfactory' (N) result. If a student does not intend to proceed to tertiary education, a 'satisfactory' result is all that is required to graduate with the VCE. If a student does wish to study at a tertiary level then they will require an ATAR. In order to gain an ATAR a student must satisfactorily complete three units of any subject in the English field (at least one English field subject is compulsory) and sixteen units in any other subjects.
VCE studies are assessed both internally (in school) and externally (through VCAA). During Unit 1/2 all assessment is internal, whilst in Unit 3/4 assessment is conducted both internally and externally.
Internal assessment is conducted via "school assessed coursework" (SACs) and "school assessed tasks" (SATs).
"School assessed coursework" (SACs) are the primary avenue of internal assessment, with assessment in every VCE study consisting of at least one SAC. SACs are tasks that are written by the school and must be done primarily in class time; they can include essays, reports, tests, and case studies. Some studies in the visual arts and technology areas are also assessed via "school assessed tasks" (SATs). SATs are generally practical tasks that are examined in school. Both SACs and SATs are scaled by VCAA against external assessment; this is to eliminate any cheating or variances in task difficulty.
External assessment is conducted in the form of examinations set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Unit 3/4 studies. As of 2013, only the General Achievement Test (GAT) will be examined in June, with all subjects now only having 1 external assessment with the exceptions of mathematics subjects, and Italian, which consists of both a written and oral external test. All examinations excepting the GAT are held in late October and most of November.
Subjects in the LOTE field (languages other than English) are also assessed in the form of oral examinations. Subjects in the Music field are assessed by a performance for a VCAA panel of examiners as part of their external assessment. All performance based external assessment (Oral Examinations and Music Performances) are typically held in early October.
General Achievement Test (GAT)
The GAT is an essential part of VCE external assessment. It provides the basis of a quality assurance check on the marking of examinations. Any student who is enrolled in a VCE Unit 3/4 study is expected to sit the GAT.
A student who satisfactorily completes Unit 1-4 of a VCE study is eligible for a study score of between 0 and 50. Study scores are calculated by VCAA and indicate a student's performance in that subject relative to others.
Study scores are calculated according to a normal distribution, where the mean is 30 and the standard deviation is 7.
Scaling is the process that adjusts VCE study scores into ATAR subject scores. The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) adjusts all VCE study scores to equalise results between studies with stronger cohorts, and those with weaker ones. Contrary to common perception, scaling is not based on the difficulty of the subject, as each study score is in fact a ranking. The score adjustment ensures that in those subjects where it is easier to overtake the cohort, the score is adjusted downwards, while in those subjects where it is difficult to rank highly, it is moved upwards.
In total there are 129 VCE studies ranging across education fields including humanities, science, mathematics, technology, the arts and language as well as incorporating vocational studies.
- A student must study an English subject; with a choice between English, English (ESL), English Language or English Literature; English Language is regarded as the most difficult English subject. Approximately 75% of students study English, rather than the other three options.
- Mathematics. At Unit 1 and 2 level a student may study Foundation Mathematics, General Mathematics or Mathematical Methods (CAS). At Unit 3 and 4 a student may study Further Mathematics (practical application - data analysis and discrete mathematics), Mathematical Methods (CAS) (mainstream calculus based course) or Specialist Mathematics (advanced calculus based course).
The following is a list of all VCE studies available:
|Subject||Unit 1||Unit 2||Unit 3||Unit 4|
|Agricultural and Horticultural Studies||●||●||●||●|
|Algorithmics (Higher Education Scored Study)||●||●|
|Classical Societies and Cultures||●||●||●||●|
|Computing: Software Development||●||●|
|Design and Technology||●||●||●||●|
|English: Bridging English as an Additional Language||●||●|
|Food and Technology||●||●||●||●|
|Health and Human Development||●||●||●||●|
|History: 20th Century History||●||●|
|History: Ancient History||●||●||●||●|
|History: Australian History||●||●|
|History: Global Empires||●||●|
|History: Rennaisance History||●||●|
|Industry and Enterprise Studies||●||●||●||●|
|Mathematics: General Mathematics||●||●|
|Mathematics: Mathematical Methods (CAS)*||●||●||●||●|
|Mathematics: Further Mathematics*||●||●|
|Mathematics: Specialist Mathematics*||●||●||●||●|
|Music: Music Performance||●||●||●||●|
|Music: Music Style and Composition||●||●||●||●|
|Outdoor and Environmental Studies||●||●||●||●|
|Politics: Australian and Global Politics||●||●|
|Politics: Australian Politics||●||●|
|Politics: Global Politics||●||●|
|Religion and Society||●||●||●||●|
|Systems and Technology||●||●||●||●|
|Texts and Traditions||●||●||●||●|
|Visual Communications and Design||●||●||●||●|
|Vocational Education and Training (VET)*||●||●||●||●|
|* = see table below|
|Albanian||Japanese First Language, Japaneses Second Language|
|Armenian||Korean First Language, Korean Second Language|
|Indigenous Languages of Victoria||Turkish|
|Indonesian First Language, Indonesian Second Language||Ukrainian|
|VCE VET Programs|
|Applied Fashion Design and Technology||Financial Services|
|Automotive||Food Processing (Wine)|
|Building and Construction||Furnishing|
|Conservation and Land Management||Information Technology|
|Community Services||Integrated Technologies|
|Dance||Interactive Digital Media|
|Engineering Studies||Sport and Recreation|
There are also University Extension studies available for high-achieving students. These subjects are carried out through multiple universities, including Monash University, The University of Melbourne, Swinburne University  and Deakin University
- Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
- Department of Education, Victoria
- Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre
- General Achievement Test
- Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank
- Education in Australia
- Senior Secondary Certificate of Education
- University admission