VCAA – Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority is the body responsible for the implementation of the VCE.

The VCE course is made up of studies and units, some of which must be studied as a sequence.

A study is a subject, for example, English or Biology. It is made up of four units (Units,1,2,3 and 4), each of which is a semester in length.

Student typically study Unit 1&2 sequences in Year 11 and Unit 3&4 sequences in Year 12. However, students can study Unit 1&2 sequences in Year 10 and Unit 3&4 sequences in Year 11.

Most students complete 22 units towards their VCE. Year 11 students usually complete 12 units and Year 12 students usually complete 10 units.

At Trafalgar High School students attempt one Unit 1&2 sequence whilst in Year 10 in order to prepare them for the demands of VCE, unless they are enrolled in a VCAL pathway.

All Year 9, 10 and 11 students are given personal course counselling before making subject choices for the following year.

To graduate with a VCE, students must satisfactorily complete at least 16 units.

These must include:

  • At least three additional Unit 3 and 4 sequences.


Each unit has a list of outcomes specific to that study. Each outcome is described in terms of key knowledge and key skills.

The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on the subject teacher’s decision that the student has demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit.

Demonstration of achievement of outcomes and satisfactory completion of a unit are determined by evidence gained through the assessment of a range of learning activities and tasks.


For Units 1 and 2 students receive either S (Satisfactory) or N (Not Satisfactory) for each unit.

There will also be a range of assessments that are marked with a percentage grade.

Assessments in Units 1 and 2 are set and marked by the teachers at the school level. The assessments have deadlines and work will need to be submitted on time. Deadlines can only be extended in special circumstances.

For Unit 1 and 2, only the S or N result is reported to the VCAA.


For Units 3 and 4 students receive either S (Satisfactory) or N (Not Satisfactory) for each unit.

There are three graded assessments for each VCE study at Unit 3 and 4 level. Depending on the study these may be School-based Assessments and/or external assessments.

For example, the assessment in English will have:     

  • School assessed Coursework in Unit 3,
  • School assessed Coursework in Unit 4, and
  • An externally assessed Examination.

School-based Assessments are set by the teacher and include School-assessed Coursework (SAC) that is completed at school, and School-assessed Tasks (SAT) that are completed at school and at home. School-based Assessments are marked by at the school.

External Assessments are set and marked by the VCAA. Usually this will be an exam – whether written, oral, performance or in an electronic format. Each unit 3&4 sequence has either one or two external assessments. External Assessments are marked by assessors who are experts in there are of study.

Exams are held each year in October and November.

The percentage that each assessment contributes to the student’s overall assessment in that study varies from study to study.

For specific details of the Assessment Structure for VCE Studies refer to the VCAA website.


If students obtain at least two graded assessments and achieve an S for both Units 3 and 4 in a study in the same year, they will receive a study score.

A study score is a number between 0 and 50 that indicates a ranking in terms of all students doing that study in that year.

Each of the three assessments in a study contributes a certain percentage towards the study score. 

Using the English example again:

  • Unit 3 course work contributes 25%
  • Unit 4 course work contributes 25%
  • The written examination contributes 50% towards the overall score for each student.


Students wanting to pursue a pathway in higher education at University will need to obtain an ATAR.

The ATAR is calculated by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) on the basis of study scores and is presented as a ranking between 0.00 and 99.95.

If you want to obtain an ATAR, you need to have at least four study scores, one of which must be from the English group.

You can find out more information about the ATAR, subject combinations and course choices through VTAC

VTAC Website


To avoid the problems associated with a teacher in one school marking course assessment either harder or easier than a teacher in another school, statistical moderation is used.  The teacher’s marks are statistically moderated against the exam results of the students in that study, in that school and the GAT.

If the teacher's marks are higher than the exam results of the group, the student’s marks are pulled down; likewise, if the teacher's marks are lower, the student's marks are pulled up.

 Students are given feedback on each SAC from their subject teacher.

It is important to note that due to the moderation process, the mark awarded to the student by the teacher is likely to change.



The GAT is a 3 hour examination consisting of two English writing pieces and a multiple choice section covering maths, sciences, arts and humanities areas.

All students enrolled in at least one Unit 3 & 4 sequence must sit the GAT in that year. Some students will sit the GAT in Year 11 and Year 12.

Although the results do not count directly toward a student’s VCE result, they play an important role in 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 student who are ill or affected by other personal circumstances at the time of the VCE exams and whose result is unlikely to be a fair or accurate indication of their learning or achievement.

Further information regarding the rules, Procedures and Policies for Senior Students at Trafalgar High School can be found in the ‘Trafalgar High School Senior School Rules and Procedures Handbook’.