How VCE works and how to prepare for it

Wondering what a "Unit 3&4" is? We'll help you understand the complicated Victorian Year 11 and 12 ATAR system

What is the VCE?

The VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) is a two-year program that consists of four units, typically taken in Years 11 and 12. However, some students may choose to accelerate their studies and complete the units in a shorter time frame, such as taking Units 1 and 2 in Year 10 and Units 3 and 4 in Year 11, or even completing a Unit 3 and 4 subject in Year 10. This is is because many students consider taking on a Year 12 Unit earlier as a way to lighten the load during their actual final year of high school, though this will be highly dependant on the student.

It is also possible to take Units 3 and 4 without having completed Units 1 and 2, although the material from these earlier units is often assumed knowledge for the final exams, which only test learning from Units 3 and 4.

At the end of the VCE, students receive a Study Score out of 50 for each Units 3 and 4 subject, as well as an overall ATAR score (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank). The Study Score is based on performance on exams and other assessments, and the ATAR is a ranking (not a score) of the student's scores compared to those of other students. Both the Study Score and the ATAR are used to evaluate the student's overall performance in the VCE.

How is your ATAR calculated?

The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) is a ranking system used to evaluate the performance of Year 12 students in Australia. Every student in the country receives an ATAR score, which is given in increments of 0.05, ranging from 0.05 to 99.95. It is important to note that the ATAR is not a percentage grade reflecting the student's performance on exams. Instead, it is a ranking system, with a higher ATAR indicating a higher ranking compared to other students.

For example, an ATAR of 85.50 means that the student is in the top 14.5% of the country, while an ATAR of 99.95 means that the student is in the top 0.05%. It is not possible to score a 100 ATAR, as this would require ranking better than everyone else in the country, including oneself. Here's a quick guide, if you want more information or to brush up more on how the ATAR works.

In contrast to the ATAR, the Study Score is an internal mark used only for students of the VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education). Students in other states receive other internal marks based on their own systems, such as the WACE (Western Australian Certificate of Education) or the QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education). The Study Scores of VCE students are used to calculate their ATAR, allowing for comparison on a national scale.

What Subjects do I need to do?

In the VCE program, all students must take at least one English-based subject, such as English, English Language, Literature, or English as an Additional Language. In addition to this required subject, students have the freedom to choose the remaining subjects they wish to take as part of their VCE program. A minimum of four subjects, including the English-based one, must be completed.

The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) is calculated based on the student's performance in a maximum of six subjects. Four of these subjects contribute 100% to the ATAR, while the remaining two subjects contribute 10% each, if applicable. If the student has taken more than six subjects, only the six highest-scoring subjects will be considered for the ATAR calculation, and the rest will be disregarded.

Continue reading...

The VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) system can be confusing and overwhelming for new students and their families. If you need help with VCE studies or have specific subject-related questions, KIS Academics tutors are knowledgeable about their subjects and can assist with understanding curriculum requirements. To get a better understanding of how the VCE works and how each subject affects your final ATAR score, you can refer to the resources listed below.

Understanding the


system 🧠

The first thing we recommend you do is understand how the curriculum works. This will help you choose subjects, understand marking schemes and how it all impacts what university course you can do:

Calculating your



Once you've got an idea of what subjects you want to do and how you'll approach your studies, you can experiment with a predicted ATAR using an ATAR Calculator.

Get your


English Essay

Marked ✅

In-school assessments are a common and important part of your final ATAR score. If you want an expert to look over your work and provide feedback before your teacher does, you've come to the right place!

Getting the right


resources 📚

Knowing how things work is only half the challenge. You'll need to make sure that you find the best resources available for each subject you choose to do. Here are some of the most popular resources for common subjects:

Finding the best


tutors 🎓

The best way to improve your chance of success is by finding a great mentor or tutor. Finding a good one can be difficult, but we recommend looking for a tutor who:
1️⃣ is young and relatable so lessons are engaging
2️⃣ has a good academic record, achieved a high ATAR themselves is an expert at your subject
3️⃣ loves teaching and genuinely cares about their students.
Here are some of our most popular tutors who fulfil all three criteria themselves:

Kavinnath Karunaratna


Hi there, I'm Kavinnath, but you can call me Kavin! For the past 6 years, I've been trying and testing various different study methods in multiple tedious subjects, to allow me to achieve the best results I can. My journey, can be your journey as well, and I intend to help you navigate your schooling life as efficiently as possible using these beneficial study methods!

I graduated from Haileybury College as the School Vice Captain and Coursework Dux, with an ATAR of 99.8, and a UCAT of 3120. Even though that got me into the Doctor of Medicine at Monash University, those scores weren't the highlight of my time at school.

I know the importance of getting out there and enjoying life while we can, especially before another pandemic hits, which is why I stress the importance of studying as effectively as possible. Balancing school, sports, music, leadership and extracurriculars has allowed me to develop the skills to have that same balanced lifestyle in university. Now, on a weekly basis, I gym, swim, Dj, work, cook, go out and hang out with friends, and of course study.

I'm grateful for the effort I put in during school to be where I am today. I want to provide you with those same skills, to achieve the best that you can and set you up for the future, so you can enjoy and appreciate those special moments in life!

Julie Boktor


Hi! My name is Julie Boktor and I graduated from Presbyterian Ladies' College with an ATAR of 99.95. I'm currently studying Medicine at Monash University. In my spare time I enjoy playing netball, watching Netflix and spending quality time with my friends and family.

An avid Science and Maths fan who has experience in answering rigorous exam questions, I am here to help you in developing the most effective strategies to tackle challenging content. Through assisting in strengthening your foundational knowledge in Chemistry, Biology + Maths, and helping you continually build on this, I hope that together we will be able to reach your academic goals! As someone who attempted to balance my subjects with sports and extracurriculars, I have experience in studying effectively and efficiently - skills I also hope to impart to you through tutoring.

Having been through the whirlwind of school exams, learnt to cope and finally come out the other side, I understand how overwhelming it can be at times. I hope to therefore be able to support you not only academically but through the stressful ups and downs of your schooling experience.

Dee Tomic


Hi! I’m Dee and I’m a PhD student with over 6 years’ tutoring experience. I graduated as dux of St Leonard’s College with an ATAR of 99.75 and received a Premier’s Award for being the top Victorian student in Mathematical Methods. In addition to my study score of 50 in Mathematical Methods, I received scores of 47 in Biology and 45 in Chemistry. I bring a wealth of experience tutoring maths, biology, and general science, for students of all skill levels.

My approach to tutoring varies according to each student’s individual needs, but in general, I aim to guide students through the curriculum whilst creating a deeper understanding of the key concepts and instilling a passion for learning. While I ensure to bring my students to their maximum academic potential, I also see myself as a mentor on a broader level, giving students tips and strategies to help them navigate the stressful experience of high school.

I studied medicine at university and worked briefly in management consulting before commencing my PhD in epidemiology that I am currently undertaking at Monash University. I am also an avid writer and reader, and a big fan of AFL and basketball.

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Hello there! I'm Manoj - the founder of Keep It Simple Academics (Or KIS Academics for short).

KIS Academics is an Australia-wide tutoring company that has helped hundreds of students achieve their academic potential. Through these last few years, I've learned a thing or two about how tutoring works. Now it's my goal to grow KIS Academics and help more students across Australia achieve their dreams (and somehow complete my medical degree in one piece 😅)

In the last three years:

✅ We've helped C students get straight As.

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✅ We've helped students who live in rural towns gain opportunities to go to metropolitan universities.

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But rather than listening to me ramble on about how great KIS Academics is, book a study skills consultation with one of our tutors and experience it firsthand!

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