Have You Ever Been Wondering What The VCE is? Here’s Your Answer!

Image of a girl studying

In Victoria, Australia, the 11th and 12th years of secondary education are called the Victorian Certificate of Education or VCE. However, some schools allow students to appear for this examination in their 10th year of secondary school. VCE acts as the foundation for all future learning pursuits and thus makes up the crucial segment in the academic journey of children. This is also the stage where children prepare themselves to take on an intensely competitive world and examine a range of options for career building. Over hundred streams of learning including humanities, science, technology, language, mathematics, arts and vocational studies are offered under VCE.

The two years of VCE education lays the foundation for all future academic achievements of the child

Image of academic cap

The majority of VCE programs consist of 4 units which can be completed across 2 years (one unit is equal to half year work or one semester). Typically, units 1 and 2 are completed in the 11th year while the units 3 and 4 are taken in the 12th year. Many schools, however, provide students with the opportunity to study the 1st and 2nd units of certain VCE studies in the 10th year and the 3rd and 4th units in the 11th year. Units 3 and 4 are required to be taken in sequence in one year while units 1 and 2 need not be taken in a sequence and need not continue into the 3rd and 4th units. Students are often advised to complete the 1st and 2nd units representing foundational courses to acquire knowledge ahead of progressing to the 3rd and 4th units. Similarly, students are also encouraged to start with VET studies at the 1st and 2nd unit level in the 11th year before progressing to the 3rd and 4th units in the 12th year.

While 20 to 24 units constitute the general norm for graduation with VCE, at the minimum students are required to complete 16 units satisfactorily. Regardless of the number of units completed, students must complete at least 3 units from English group to qualify for graduation. These 3 are:-

  • Foundation English (Unit 1 and 2)
  • English (Units 1-4)
  • English as additional language (Unit 3 n 4)
  • English Language (Units 1 to 4)
  • Literature (Unit 1 to 4)

Of this, at least one English unit must be unit 3 or 4

Satisfactory completion of unit 3 as well as unit 4 sequences is also essential. While the students are at liberty to draw any sequence from VET, only some of them will qualify for study score under VCE VET unit will qualify for the ATAR needed for university entrance and other sequences will be counted for ATAR via an increment. Some more restrictions on combining certain VET and VCE studies also apply affecting the ATAR calculation for students. To qualify under ATAR, students should complete 4 sequences of Unit 3 and 4 which should include one such sequence from English group.

VCE assessment


Based on the course work students are assessed under Unit 1 and 2 of VCE studies and awarded ‘satisfactory completion’ when all requirements under each unit are met. Formal graded assessments are employed for the Unit 3 and 4 studies and will include school-based coursework as well as one examination by VCAA. Assessments are internal as well as external. For unit 1 and 2, the assessment is internal while it would be a combination of internal and external for units 3 and 4. Students who are taking up units 3 and 4 should also take up the GAT test that is integral to the external assessment under VCE. It is often a great idea to get professional help to prepare for this assessment such as from tutoring schools or private tutors. For example, VCE tutors at Edu-Kingdom College have years of experience and skills behind them and are capable of preparing you in the best possible way for this hurdle, with minimal stress on your part.

VCE Study Designs and resources

VCE offers over 100 study designs, and a detailed list of options can be accessed here.

VCE Awards

Image of an award

The VCE awards cover excellence in different streams of learning with the exception of ‘season of excellence’ which is an annual festival involving work that is created by the VCE students in design, technology, cinematic and multimedia, visual as well as performing arts. Details of the other awards offered can be found here.

The core of VCE studies is to prepare children to explore various study streams and choose those that align with their personal preferences and career objectives. The amount of focus and effort that students put in at this stage will significantly impact how their career objectives shape up when they are out in the cold to face a highly competitive world.