Study options in year 11 and 12

In years 11 and 12 your child will study towards getting a senior secondary certificate. 

There are different certificates for different styles of learning. Each certificate also has options, like:

  • different subjects and study areas
  • study environments, for example in a classroom or a workplace
  • hands-on learning versus theory.

Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)

Most students in Victoria take VCE studies. This certificate:

  • shows your child has finished their secondary education
  • is often used to move on to study at university or TAFE
  • is recognised internationally.

VCE subjects and structure

The VCE includes more than 90 subjects to choose from. Each school decides which VCE subjects they offer.

Most subjects are made up of four units which your child studies over two years (one unit per semester):

  • Units 1/2 are usually studied in year 11. They can be studied as single units and don't need to be in a certain order.
  • Units 3/4 are usually studied in year 12. They must be studied in a certain order (called a sequence) within the same year.

Students usually choose between 20 to 24 units over two years, but they can take as long as they need to complete VCE. If your child needs longer than two years to complete VCE, talk to your school for options.

Some schools also offer VCE units from year 10.

Read VCE information at Youth Central for advice on how your child should choose their VCE subjects.


To graduate VCE:

  1. Your child must satisfactory complete at least 16 VCE units.
  2. Three of the units must be in the English subject group.
  3. At least one of the English units must also be at unit 3/4 level.
  4. Your child must also satisfactory complete at least three other unit 3/4 sequences.

Each unit has outcomes which describe what students are expected to know and be able to do. Your child needs to demonstrate the outcomes to satisfactorily complete the unit.

VCE units are assessed through classroom activities and exams (in year 12). Exams are marked by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

When graduating VCE, your child will receive a VCE study score and an ATAR score if they've applied to university.

VCE and going to university and TAFE

Some VCE units contribute towards an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). This is a ranking number used for university entry.

Some university and TAFE courses are only available to students who have studied certain VCE subjects. Your child should think about what they want to study in the future when choosing their VCE subjects.

General achievement test

The VCE includes a general achievement test. This is a test of general knowledge and skills in:

  • written communication
  • maths
  • science and technology
  • humanities
  • the arts
  • social sciences.

Any students enrolled in units 3 and 4 of any VCE subject must sit the test. The results are used to check that the school is correctly marking tests and exams.

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)

VCAL is an option with a more hands-on style of learning. It focuses on:

  • work-related experience
  • literacy and numeracy skills for jobs
  • building personal skills that are important for work.

After finishing VCAL, your child can:

  • transfer to VCE studies
  • study at TAFE
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • start a job.

VCAL is also offered at some TAFEs and Learn Local organisations. This is an option if your child wants to leave school early.

VCAL subjects and structure

Students choose units from four compulsory strands:

  1. Literacy and numeracy skills.
  2. Industry-specific skills.
  3. Work related skills (to make students employable).
  4. Personal development skills (like teamwork and self-confidence).

There are three ability levels to study VCAL: foundation, intermediate or senior. Students start at the level that matches their abilities.

VCAL is quite flexible. Students will design a study program based on their interests or the jobs they want to pursue.

Some units in VCAL are also VCE units. If your child transfers to VCE later, they'll receive credit for these units.

Most VCAL students finish the program in one year.


If your child successfully completes their learning program they'll receive a VCAL certificate. The certificate is for the ability level they studied: foundation, intermediate or senior.

They also receive a statement of results, including any VCE and VET units studied.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

This is a study option for high achieving students who want to move on to university study.

The diploma is recognised by top universities around the world. This includes all major universities in Australia.

Not all schools in Victoria offer this diploma. Learn more at the International Baccalaureate website or search for a school.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

VET is hands-on education that directly relates to getting a job. This could be related to:

  • hospitality
  • sport and recreation
  • agriculture
  • music
  • retail
  • and more.

VET is not a senior secondary certificate. Instead, your child can study VET units within VCE or VCAL. Some units give credit towards a nationally recognised VET certificate.

Read more about VET in the VCE and VCAL.

Your child can also study VET subjects through:

  • pre-apprenticeship programs. These are stepping stone to start working in a certain industry.
  • school-based apprenticeships and traineeships. These programs combine work, training and study at school. Your child is a student and employee at the same time.
  • workplace learning programs. This can include work experience (observing people in a workplace) and structured workplace learning (learning the skills needed at the workplace).

Contact your school for more information on these options.