Learn about the VCE


The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is internationally recognised and gives you paths to further study or paid employment. Find out about the different options you have to complete your VCE.

Choosing VCE studies

As part of the VCE, you are able to choose from more than 90 study or subject areas. Your school decides what VCE studies and VCE Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs it will offer. A VCE program generally consists of 20 to 24 studies taken over two years, and you can vary the number of units you complete in a year.

When choosing you study areas you should consider:

  • what interests you
  • what you are good at
  • if the subject leads to a job you are interested in
  • if the subject prepares you for further training or tertiary courses you are considering
  • if the subject leads to a VET qualification within the VCE.

Vocational Education and Training in the VCE

Of the 90 study or subject areas, 30 are Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs that provide a nationally recognised industry qualification. Programs include hospitality, agriculture, information technology and engineering.

You can choose to do a VET program as part of your VCE.

If you choose a VCE VET program you receive a nationally recognised training qualification, as well as your VCE. In addition any VET qualification at Certificate II or above can provide credits for VCE.

You can also choose to do a school based apprenticeship while studying your VCE.

Higher education studies in the VCE

Higher education studies are 1st year university subjects taken within the VCE at year 12. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) approves the studies that are able to be included in the higher education studies program. Students interested in this option are usually high achievers who can demonstrate the capacity to take on an additional workload. Students can count their higher education study towards satisfactory completion of the VCE. A higher education study is deemed as equivalent to a Unit 3 and 4 sequence, but is unscored. This means that VTAC will use the higher education study for the calculation of the ATAR as a 5th or 6th study. Only one higher education study may count towards satisfactory completion of the VCE.

The VCAA website has the list of approved higher education studies that students may choose from. You need to apply directly to the university that offers the study of your choice, and your school has to endorse your application. For more information, see: VCAA

VCE satisfactory completion

You will graduate with the VCE by satisfactorily completing a minimum of 16 units, three of which must be from the English group with at least one unit from Unit 3 and 4 level, with at least three Units 3 and 4 sequences in studies other than English. Of these 16 units, 13 can be from VET. Most students graduate with between 20 and 24 units. in order to be eligible for an ATAR calculation, you must have a Unit 3 and 4 sequence with a study score from the English group, and at least 3 three other Unit 3 and 4 sequences with study scores.

Each unit has outcomes that describe what you are expected to know and be able to do. The decision about satisfactory completion of units is based on a student's ability to demonstrate outcomes specified for each VCE study. There are also two types of graded assessment in the VCE: school based assessment and external examinations.

External examinations – written, oral, performance or electronic – are set and marked by the VCAA. Most exams are held in November, although the General Achievement Test (GAT) is held in June and oral and performance exams are held in October.

What is ATAR?

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is calculated by VTAC solely for the use of tertiary institutions to compare the overall achievement of students who have completed different combinations of VCE studies. VTAC forwards the ATAR along with application information to selection authorities at institutions.

ATAR was previously known as ENTER (Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank). The change to ATAR, the nationally agreed name used by all Australian states and territories (except Queensland), is a change in name only. There is no change to the calculation.

Nearly all university courses make some use of the ATAR to select students. Some courses select up to 80% of their places for students using ATAR alone..

For more information on the ATAR, see: Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre

Victoria's Premier's VCE Award recipients share their exam advice

Some of the best students in the state, our 2017 Top All-Round VCE High Achievers, shared their invaluable tips and tricks on how to prepare for, and pass exams, achieving the best score. They picked one of their favourite subjects and explained the strategies that got them the top results.

Other Premier's VCE Award recipients from previous years have also shared their study tips and exam advice for current VCE students.

More information

For more information on planning a career, see: Career Planning at School