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Joseph41

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How VCE Works
« on: November 15, 2016, 08:16:51 pm »
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How VCE Works
(A shoutout to pi's How university works).

Howdy. :) Straight up, this thread is going to have mistakes, so please contribute your own ideas and let me know where and how I’ve stuffed up! I’ve started this thread because I had some students asking me questions about VCE, and I realised how little I understood the system before I started it. This thread will serve as a Q&A of sorts, with all answers incorporated into the opening post. So if you’re in VCE currently or will be in the future, feel free to ask questions! And I hope that those who have been through it will aid me in answering. :)
(NatMods, feel free to edit at your will.)

Subjects & structure of VCE

What are “units”?
Spoiler
Basically, VCE subjects are split into four units: Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4. Each unit covers half a year (a semester) worth of content. Generally, Unit 1 & Unit 2 are seen to be the Year 11 equivalent of the subject, whilst Unit 3 & Unit 4 make up the Year 12 equivalent.

So say you’re studying 'Year 11' (you could actually do this earlier if desired) Business Management at the moment. Even if you don’t realise it, you’re studying Business Management Units 1 & 2. Should you continue with the subject in Year 12, you’d move onto Units 3 & 4. But just because Units 3 & 4 are usually completed in Year 12, they absolutely don’t have to be – you can study them earlier should you wish. I’ll speak about this more later in this post.

Importantly, only Units 3 & 4 contribute to your study score and eventual ATAR. “What’s that?!” I hear you ask? Don’t worry – I’ll go through this terminology soon, too. But fundamentally, Units 3 & 4 (for each subject that you do) are the ones that truly ‘count’.
Okay, so how many units do I study?
Spoiler
To quote this very handy document (would recommend reading) here, “[t]o get your VCE you must pass 16 units”, including eight at Unit 3 & 4 level. There are some restrictions on the subjects you can choose (though not many, really) – again, this will be covered soon.
Can I study Units 3 & 4 of a subject without Units 1 & 2?
Spoiler
Yes, in theory you can ‘skip’ the Year 11 portion of the subject (Units 1 & 2) and study Units 3 & 4. However, to my knowledge this is only possible (at least without exceptional circumstances) for some subjects. I’ve heard it done, for example, in Health & Human Development, Psychology, Further Maths, Biology and Legal Studies.

But typically, you will study Units 1 & 2 before moving onto Units 3 & 4. A case study below:

Spoiler
Year 11: Business Management 3/4, Art 1/2, English Language 1/2, Psychology 1/2, Maths Methods 1/2, Visual Communication & Design 1/2.

Here, you can see that in Year 11, I studied one Units 3 & 4 subject: Business Management. Of the above, this is the only subject that counted toward my ATAR, because unlike the rest, it was the Year 12 equivalent.

Year 12: English Language 3/4, Psychology 3/4, Further Maths 3/4, Visual Communication & Design 3/4, Health & Human Development 3/4.

In Year 12, I continued my studies in English Language, Psychology, and Visual Communication & Design. I no longer studied Business Management, as I had completed it the year before. But you’ll note that I also no longer studied Art or Maths Methods. This is because I dropped these subjects – I had changed my mind as to what I wanted to study. So instead, I picked up Further Maths 3/4 and Health & Human Development 3/4. Noteworthy is that I had not completed Units 1 & 2 for either subject. These five subjects, along with Business Management 3/4 (completed in Year 11), all contributed to my ATAR.
So then, how many subjects do I study overall?
Spoiler
Minimally, you will need to study 16 units (essentially 8 subjects, each comprised of two units) over Year 11 and Year 12. At least eight units (essentially 4 subjects) need to be at Year 12 (Units 3 & 4) level.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t study more subjects than that. You will note, for example, that in Year 12 I studied 10 units (5 subjects), and a total of 12 units at Year 12 (Units 3 & 4) level. Some students study even more subjects than that, and many of those students are contributors on ATAR Notes. There are benefits of doing this, but it’s important to note that not all of those subjects will be able to count toward your ATAR.
So… are there restrictions on what subjects I can choose?
Spoiler
Yes, I’m afraid there are. You must complete at least three units from the “English group”. This group of subjects comprises Foundation English, English, Bridging English as an Additional Language, English as an Additional Language, English Language and Literature. Of those three units, at least one unit must be at Units 3 & 4 level.

That aside, you can essentially choose what subjects you like, contingent (of course) on your particular school, which can dictate things a little. If you really want to study a particular subject but it’s not offered at your school, you might like to consider studying it via Distance Education.
Do I really have to study English?
Spoiler
Sort of. To clarify the above, you need to study at least one subject from the “English group” of subjects, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be English (“mainstream” English). For example, I studied English Language (sort of foundation Linguistics) instead.
Okay – so how should I go about choosing my subjects, then?
Spoiler
There are lots of things that you might like to consider when selecting your subjects, including but not limited to your interests, abilities, pre-requisites for further study, and so on. Some users here on ATAR Notes have written fantastic guide on subject selection, because it really can be tricky and daunting. I recommend reading this guide by heidiii and this guide by Glasses.

My own advice: don’t choose subjects based on “scaling” (I'll go through this soon), don’t choose subjects based solely on what your friends are doing. Choose what you like or what you need (for further study).
I’m considering a folio subject
Spoiler
Sick! A very quick of warning: don’t do it if you’re planning on using that subject as a “bludge”. Basically everybody who has done one will tell you that it's a lot of hard work.
Am I going to have free periods? OMG so much freedom! ;D
Spoiler
I don’t pretend to know every school in the state’s operations, but yes, you will probably have free periods during VCE (that is, periods with no scheduled classes). Some schools might make you stay at school, others may let you leave – I’m not really sure. What I am sure about, however, is that you shouldn’t waste this time. I actually found my free periods one of the best times to study; I could tuck myself away in a corner somewhere, and just get stuck into work. Was pretty grouse. If I were just starting VCE, I’d really try to get into a routine of staying at school for free periods, irrespective of whether or not you’re technically required to do so.
Does VCE have attendance requirements?
Spoiler
You better believe it! Quoting this:

Quote
All VCE units require 50 hours of class time. You need to attend sufficient class time to complete work. Your school sets minimum class time and attendance rules.

I’d recommend speaking with your VCE Co-ordinator should you have any issues about this.
What’s up with those people who start Year 12 in Year 11 (or earlier?!)?
Spoiler
This is actually very common, and pretty smart IMO. You can read more about starting Year 12 early here.
And VET?
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My understanding is a little shaky here. VET stands for Vocational Education and Training. VCAA says that:

Quote
Students who complete all or part of a nationally recognised qualification may receive credit towards satisfactory completion of their VCE and/or VCAL. Recognition can be achieved through:
•   enrolment in a VCAA-approved VCE VET program, or a school-based or part-time apprenticeship or traineeship
•   enrolment in any other nationally recognised qualification at certificate II level or above – this arrangement is called block credit recognition.

You may be interested in the selection of VET Programs that can contribute to your VCE. They include things as diverse as Animal Studies, Hair and Beauty, and Sport and Recreation, which is pretty nifty to be honest!
And VCAL?
Spoiler
Another excellent question, if I do say so myself. VCAL (the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) is an alternative route to the VCE. Again relying on VCAA:

Quote
The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) is a hands-on option for students in Years 11 and 12. The VCAL gives you practical work-related experience, as well as literacy and numeracy skills and the opportunity to build personal skills that are important for life and work. Like the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), VCAL is an accredited secondary certificate.

If you’re interested, you may wish to watch this video. It has a bonus (out of place IMO) beaty soundtrack, and you may also benefit from VCAA’s information booklet for VCAL.

Important terminology & resources

I’ve heard of a “study design” – is that sort of a list of what we’re taught?
Spoiler
Yeah, pretty much! Each VCE subject has its own study design. It goes through all of the content that is assessable (so essentially everything you need to know), how you will be assessed on that material, and a bunch of other useful information. You can find the most recent study designs for every single VCE subject here. And yeah, I know what you’re thinking: that’s an absolute shitload of subjects.
What’s a “SAC”?
Spoiler
”SAC” stands for School-Assessed Coursework. Basically, it’s just a fancy name for tests. For example:

“Yo bro, have you studied for the Bio SAC?”
“Nah.”

Your SACs, along with your end-of-year exams, contribute to your study scores.
And what’s a “GA”?
Spoiler
”GA” stands for Graded Assessment. Again, these will comprise your SACs and exams. Each subject (I think? – correct me if I’m wrong, here) has three Graded Assessments. So that might be, for example, your Unit 3 SACs, your Unit 4 SACs and your end-of-year exam; or, it could be your Unit 3 & 4 SACs, your first exam,you’re your second exam; or, it could be your folio, your SACs, and your exam. Something like that.

At the end of the year, you’ll get a mark for each Graded Assessment. It could be something like this:

Japanese: GA1 B+; GA2 C+; GA3 A. Study score: 32
What’s a “derived score”?
Spoiler
If you can’t sit your final exams or have other personal circumstances, you may be eligible for a derived examination score:

Quote
The calculation for the DES uses all other available scores for the student in the affected study and the indicative grade for any external assessments provided by the school and the GAT component scores. For each approved application for a specific external assessment, the VCAA will calculate a range of possible DES scores, which will be calculated statistically from the student’s other assessments, including:
•   moderated School-based Assessments
•   GAT component scores
•   other external assessment scores if applicable
•   indicative grades provided by the school.

As above, this is basically a study score based on other factors.
What is VCAA and what resources does it provide?
Spoiler
The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. That is, the overlords of VCE. You know they’re serious because they have “Authority” in their title.

On the VCAA website, you can find a whole bunch of stuff, including but not limited to frequently asked questions, past exams and study designs. Such fun!
How else can ATAR Notes help me?
Spoiler
Have you considered its free lectures?
I’m a bit worried about my mental health – what can I do?
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Please speak with somebody – anybody. You’re not alone. VCE is undoubtedly stressful, and letting people know how you’re feeling is a good thing. Some resources of interest may include beyondblue and headspace.
I've heard of "bonus points"?
Answer courtesy of HopefulLawStudent (thank you!)
If your ATAR is not high enough (i.e. above the cut-off atar) for automatic selection, selection people may consider other factorssuch as – drumroll please – subject bonuses. Subject bonuses go onto your aggregate score (the number that is used to calculate your ATAR, generally in the 100’s – for example, my aggregate score was 200.something or other)

For example, the clearly in ATAR for Comm/Law at Monash is 98. However, an additional consideration for this course is subject bonuses.

In this instance, for this particular course:

Quote
Subject Bonus : A study score of 45 in any English equals 2 aggregate points per study. A study score of 40 in any English equals 1 aggregate point per study. A study score of 40 in Classical Studies, Economics, Geography, any History, Legal Studies, Philosophy, Australian Politics, Global Politics or Psychology equals 1 aggregate point per study. Overall maximum of 5 points.

So let’s talk about hypothetical student A:

They got a raw 45 in Philosophy and a 50 in English and let’s say none of other subjects count for this student. Let’s say that they got an aggregate score of 156.23. With their scores, they get a 3 bonus points. Bumping their  aggregate to 159.23, in effect bumping their ATAR up from 88.80 to 90.25 which still isn’t enough to get them into their course unfortunately.  :(

Technical scores & confusing things

What’s a “study score”?
Spoiler
For each Units 3 & 4 subject that you complete, you will receive at the end of the year a study score. The study score is a ranking (important) out of 50, which basically tells you how well you did in that subject. Collectively, your study scores determine your ATAR (you can think of them as mini ATARs for each Year 12 subject, I guess).
And how is the study score calculated?
Spoiler
Okay, so I’m not fantastic at explaining the technical side of VCE, but I’m going to give this a crack, again leaning a little on this document. I’m sure others will be able to provide much better descriptions.

As per this page:

Quote
For studies with large enrolments (1,000 or more):

-   2% of students will get a score on or above 45
-   9% of students will get a score on or above 40
-   26% of students will get a score on or above 35
-   53% of students will get a score on or above 30
-   78% of students will get a score on or above 25
-   93% of students will get a score on or above 20

So essentially, your results (from during the year and from end-of-year exams) are compared with those of everybody else studying the subject that year, and you’re subsequently ranked. Based on this ranking, you receive a study score. But not all schools have equally difficult coursework, so your results are likely to be “scaled”. This is a complicated process, but basically, this video explains why it needs to happen. Scaling is discussed further later on, but for now, I’ll just note that before scaling, your study score will be “raw”, and after scaling, your study score will be “scaled”. Ultimately, it’s the scaled study score that counts toward your ATAR.
So study scores lead to an “ATAR”? What’s that?
Spoiler
Firstly, “ATAR” stands for the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. You’ll note that, like the study score, the ATAR is a rank. It was previously called the ENTER (the Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank), which IMO was apposite, because your ENTER/ATAR is partially used to determine which university courses you’re eligible for.

It’s a four digit number somewhere between 0 and 99.95. For example, your ATAR could be 31.65, or 48.30, or 72.60, or 89.55, or 99.95, or anything in between, but only in increments of 0.05. 99.95 is the highest ATAR you can receive (seen to be the “perfect score”). Why not 100? Because it’s a ranking. An ATAR of 70.00, for instance, suggests you scored better than 70% of the state – essentially, you were in the top 29.95%. Equally, an ATAR of 85.45 suggests you scored better than 85.45% of the state, and placed in the top 14.5%. If you were to achieve an ATAR of 100.00 (which you won’t, because it’s not possible), that suggests you scored better than 100% of the state, which is actually impossible.
Cool, I think I understand your shitty explanation – so how is the ATAR calculated?
Spoiler
Hopefully, you will recall that for each Units 3 & 4 subject you complete, you will receive a study score (a ranking out of 50). The ATAR comprises of your top four subjects, plus 10% of your fifth and sixth subject if applicable. Importantly, these are your study scores after scaling (I promise, we’ll look at scaling next). What does that mean? Well, let’s consider some case studies.

Case Study A (four subjects): ATAR of 93.25
Subject 1: Literature (47.24)
Subject 2: Biology (45.02)
Subject 3: German (39.65)
Subject 4: Further Maths (36.05)

Person A has completed these four subjects, and received the four listed study scores (after scaling). The ATAR is calculated by adding these scores together: 47.24 + 45.02 + 39.65 + 36.05 = 167.96. This number – 167.96 – is known as the aggregate. The aggregate is then used to find the ATAR, as you can see in this aggregate to ATAR conversion table (I’ve chosen 2013 for no particular reason).

So in 2013, an aggregate of 168.0 corresponded to an ATAR of 93.25. Nice job, Person A!
Case Study B (five subjects): ATAR of 95.75
Subject 1: Specialist Maths (49.45)
Subject 2: Art (41.69)
Subject 3: Studio Art (40.99)
Subject 4: English (40.32)
Subject 5: Music Performance (34.22)

Person B has completed these five subjects, and received the five listed study scores (after scaling). But as we know, only the top 4 subjects count fully toward the aggregate. So we have 49.45 + 41.69 + 40.99 + 40.32 = 172.45. Then, because Person B has completed a fifth subject, we add 10% of that fifth subject to the aggregate. 10% of 34.22 is 3.42, so the final aggregate is 172.45 + 3.42 = 175.87. The aggregate is then used to find the ATAR, as you can see in this aggregate to ATAR conversion table (I’ve chosen 2013 for no particular reason).

So in 2013, an aggregate of 175.9 corresponded to an ATAR of 95.75. Nice job, Person B!
Case Study C (six subjects): ATAR of 79.65
Subject 1: French (44.35)
Subject 2: English Language (37.22)
Subject 3: Maths Methods (29.65)
Subject 4: Chemistry (24.88)
Subject 5: Biology (23.92)
Subject 6: Physics (22.10)

Person C has completed these six subjects, and received the six listed study scores (after scaling). But as we know, only the top 4 subjects count fully toward the aggregate. So we have 44.35 + 37.22 + 29.65 + 24.88 = 136.10. Then, because Person C has completed a fifth and sixth subject, we add 10% of those subjects to the aggregate. 10% of 23.92 is 2.39, and 10% of 22.10 is 2.21, so the final aggregate is 136.10 + 2.39 + 2.21 = 140.7. The aggregate is then used to find the ATAR, as you can see in this aggregate to ATAR conversion table (I’ve chosen 2013 for no particular reason).

So in 2013, an aggregate of 140.7 corresponded to an ATAR of 79.65. Nice job, Person C!
Case Study D (seven subjects): ATAR of 61.25
Subject 1: Specialist Maths (31.99)
Subject 2: Environmental Science (30.16)
Subject 3: English (25.05)
Subject 4: Literature (24.80)
Subject 5: Visual Communication & Design (20.18)
Subject 6: Psychology (19.92)
Subject 7: Health & Human Development (17.75)

Person D has completed these seven subjects, and received the seven listed study scores (after scaling). But as we know, only the top 4 subjects count fully toward the aggregate. So we have 31.99 + 30.16 + 25.05 + 24.80 = 112.0. Then, because Person D has completed a fifth and sixth subject, we add 10% of those subjects to the aggregate. 10% of 20.18 is 2.02, and 10% of 19.92 is 1.99, so the final aggregate is 112.0 + 2.02 + 1.99 = 116.01. Person D also completed a seventh subject, but it doesn’t count toward the ATAR, which comprises a maximum of six subjects. The aggregate is then used to find the ATAR, as you can see in this aggregate to ATAR conversion table (I’ve chosen 2013 for no particular reason).

So in 2013, an aggregate of 116.0 corresponded to an ATAR of 61.25. Nice job, Person D!

These are all just random scores, so don’t think there’s any sort of correlation there. You might notice, though, that in all of the cases above, a subject from the English group has been in the student’s top 4 – it was already one of the best 4 scores. So even if it was your sixth best subject, it has to count as a ‘full’ subject, and not one that just adds 10% to your aggregate. For example:

Case Study E (English outside top 4): ATAR of 96.20
Subject 1: Maths Methods (49.96)
Subject 2: Food Technology (48.42)
Subject 3: Informatics (45.98)
Subject 4: Physics (45.62)
Subject 5: Specialist Maths (44.12)
Subject 6: English (24.36)

Okay. So English was clearly the sixth best subject, but it has to be moved to the top 4, meaning we have to rearrange things:

Subject 1: Maths Methods (49.96)
Subject 2: Food Technology (48.42)
Subject 3: Informatics (45.98)
Subject 4: English (24.36)
Subject 5: Physics (45.62)
Subject 6: Specialist Maths (44.12)

English is now in the top 4 by default, meaning that Physics (45.62) now only contributes the additional 10%. Which is a shame. Going through the same aggregate process, we find a total of 177.79 (ATAR of 96.20). Without the English in the top 4 rule, the ATAR would have been 99.25, so this can make a big difference!
Okay, so should I strategically try harder in my ‘Top 4’ subjects?
Spoiler
Interesting question. In theory, sure, because you’d improve your ATAR in doing so. That is, it’d be better to do really well in four subjects and okay in two than pretty good in six. But the reality is, it’s really hard to accurately guess which subjects will be your best ones.

Case study: going into Year 12, VCD was my best subject. During Year 12, it was by far and away the one on which I spent the most time. Easily. I probably spent double the time on VCD than my next subject. And yet, it ended up being my sixth subject. Luckily, I didn’t rely on VCD being in my Top 4 (despite the many, many hours) insofar as I didn’t entirely neglect any of my subjects.

There has been a lot of debate on these forums over the years about prioritising your Top 4 subjects. I definitely see the advantages of doing so, but strictly on the assumption that you’re absolutely sure what those subjects will be. So think very carefully before doing so.
How does scaling work?
Spoiler
Great question. I’m going to pass you off to these threads:

Guide to how Study Scores and ATARs are calculated! 
{SAC RANKINGS} -All you need to know about it- 

But basically, scaling standardises scores across the state. Objectively, it is deemed easier to score, say, a study score of 30 in some subjects than others, and VCAA doesn’t want to essentially punish those doing ‘harder’ subjects. As such, VCAA looks at how everybody in the cohort (everybody studying the particular subject in the same year) performs in their other subjects, thereby determining that first subject’s ‘difficulty’.

This is why some subjects scale up a lot (say, Specialist Maths, languages, and so on), and others scale down a lot. Honestly, I wouldn’t concern yourself with this too much if at all – I’d just focus on your performance in whatever subjects you choose!

And I’ll again link this video, because I think it explains it all pretty well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSXIYf4SMK4
My subjects all scale down. Am I a fool?
Spoiler
No. How your subjects scale determines nothing of the sort.
And “rankings” – are they important?
Spoiler
To quote directly from Orb:

Quote from: Orb
Rankings:
Imagine that we have a cohort of 5 students (Yes, most cohorts are much larger, but for the sake of demonstrating the concept of rankings, i'm only going to use 5.)

Student A: Average 95%, Rank 1
Student B: Average 80%, Rank 2
Student C: Average 65%, Rank 3
Student D: Average 40%, Rank 4
Student E: Average 10%, Rank last/5.

Your teachers submit your SAC averages out of whatever score criteria VCAA requires them to submit as, for example, 95/100 or 190/200 or 285/300, you get the gist. They also submit what is known as your 'Rank' (this is highlighted in bold above (see Rank 1). It is essentially the ranking or what place you are within your year, based on your performances in SACs throughout the year. To those of you who believe that this is a competition in your own school, it IS. Note, do not attempt to sabotage your friends because that just makes you pretentious, self-interested and sets you up for failure later in life. There's more to life than just VCE, trust me, there is :)

Seriously, I cannot recommend enough reading his amazingly fantastic thread on rankings and scaling and whatever else here. It’s really great and explains the system very well. As becomes apparent in that thread, your ranking for each subject is, objectively, important, and will impact your study scores and eventual ATAR. But:

a)   It’s absolutely not worth worrying about it too much, because you can’t change your rank through any method other than performance; and
b)   Please, please – for the sake of everybody – don’t try to sabotage other people in your cohort. It won’t end well for anybody involved.

For more on this, please read this thread on the importance or otherwise of rankings: Rankings - the secret behind them all
What is SEAS and how does it work?
Spoiler
According to VTAC, SEAS (the Special Entry Access Scheme) “allows selection officers to grant special consideration for course entry to applicants, but does not exempt you from meeting any of the institutional and course entry requirements”. SEAS has four categories:

Quote
- Category 1: Personal information and location
- Category 2: Difficult circumstances
- Category 3: Disadvantaged financial background
- Category 4: Disability or medical condition

If you’re deemed eligible and your application accepted, the required ATAR to gain access to a certain course may be lowered due to your personal circumstances (somebody please correct me if I’m wrong, here; I don’t have any personal experience).
I’ve heard that the GAT is a bit of a joke?
Spoiler
Yeah, not really. A lot of students don’t take the GAT (the General Achievement Test (these acronyms are starting to remind me of Hogwarts, what with its NEWTs and OWLs)) very seriously, and that absolutely boggles my mind.

I’ll try to be clear, here. If you’re doing at least one Units 3/4 subject, the GAT is compulsory. Under usual circumstances, it will not count toward your ATAR. However:

Quote
Although GAT results do not count directly towards a student’s VCE results, they play an important role in checking that school-based and external assessments have been accurately assessed, and in calculating Derived Examination Scores.

So the GAT is really important for derived scores (as discussed earlier). If you don’t try on the GAT, and then get sick at the end of the year, you’re not going to have a good time. I’m not advocating studying or anything for the GAT – it’d be pretty difficult to do so even if you wanted to – but at least try whilst you’re there!

In terms of the structure of the GAT, it includes three very broad sections – written, maths/science/technology, and humanities/the arts/social sciences – and goes for (IIRC) three hours.
My school’s pretty shit; will that impact me?
Spoiler
Realistically, yeah, it probably will to a degree, but that absolutely does not mean that you can’t score highly. And for many people, I actually think being at a ‘worse’ school would be beneficial (different environments and so on).

Studying & workload

What’s the best way to study?
Spoiler
This is really subjective, and the answer will change from person to person, so there’s simply no way I can say something like “do xyz and you’ll get a 99.95!” If you’re currently in Year 9/10/11, or even Year 12, my best advice is to experiment. You might find that, for you, you might remember a lot more by drawing pictures. Or maybe you like turning content into rhymes. Or maybe it’s best for you to record the information and listen to it whilst you’re walking. I don’t know, but the point is that there’s no definitive method that will guarantee success.

Much more important is hard work and dedication.

Of course, the way you still will also change from subject to subject, and it’s important to keep that in mind. My personal preferences and what worked for me: studying alone, writing notes by hand, and continually writing summaries. You can find out more here.
Will I have to study all the time in Year 12?
Spoiler
No. Year 12 will probably require more effort than previous years, but keep in mind that it’s not your entire life. It’s important, sure, but please, for your own sake, don’t feel like you need to study 24/7. If you do, I guarantee that you will burn out, and that’s not a good thing.
Why does everybody seem to yap on about practice exams?
Spoiler
Because they’re the best way to study, IMO (but this is only my opinion, and other people strongly disagree). In this thread, you can find out how to obtain practice exams for free.

Practice exams won’t really become relevant, however, until near the end of the year, when you’re preparing for exams. I’d recommend not starting them in, like, February – they won’t be very useful. When the time comes, these threads may be of interest:

Practice Exam Tracker And Statistics (Spreadsheet) Version Pi- The FINAL Version (the original)
Qazser's Practice Exam Tracker - Based on B^3's spreadsheet  (the updated)
Should I get a tutor?
Spoiler
Again, debatable. I tutor, but to be honest I think the benefit of tutoring in general is very varied. Put it this way: I wouldn’t be getting a tutor without doing all I could to do well in the subject without one.

Despite rhetoric that commonly permeates discussion regarding VCE, you do not need a tutor to do well.

But this, on the other hand, looks absolutely incredible.
Should I study in the holidays before Year 12 to prepare? Should I work ahead of my class?
Spoiler
Up to you, but it’s not necessary. Your subjects are designed to fit the year, so you don’t need to start working before school starts in order to fit in all of the content. There are certainly benefits, IMO – you can essentially work a little ahead of your class, and subsequently have longer for exam revision – but I don’t think it’s a necessity.

Personally, all I did (apart from travel and relax) in the holidays before Year 12 was catch up on a couple of definitions for Health & Human Development (remember, I didn’t do HHD 1/2, and had no experience with the subject).
How should I write my notes?
Spoiler
My view is that you should write your notes by hand, but that’s the way I’ve always done it (even for uni). I think that you get more out of handwriting; you’re less likely to just absent-mindedly write stuff without really letting it sink in, and you’re also less likely to be distracted by cat videos on Facebook. But, as with most things, different strokes for different folks. If typing your notes works for you, then go with that.

More generally, I’d advocate consistent, clear and concise notes (this wasn’t intended, but let’s call it “CCC Notes”). Have some sort of filing system (either saving it in various folders or using certain books or whatever) for ease of access; have designated ways of writing headings and sub-headings; don’t waffle on too much; consider using different colours for content, your own additions, and questions. That’s just me, though. I even had two notebooks for each subject: one for the notes I took in class, and another for summaries, which I used for SAC and exam revision.
And should I go to revision lectures at the end of the year? What are they like?
Spoiler
Revision lectures will change a little from organisation to organisation, but they’re essentially the same. They tend to cover the year’s material (or semester’s if it’s a mid-year lecture), and are presented by somebody super qualified – like, a teacher, or VCAA examiner, or really highly-achieved past student. They’re not for everybody: some people swear by them, but others don’t find them overly useful. I’m personally somewhere in between.

You don’t need to go to revision lectures to score highly, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you do. But when they’re free, you’d be pretty silly not to.
Should I get rid of Facebook?
Spoiler
A lot of people do; I don’t personally think it’s necessary, to be honest, should you have the discipline to avoid it. If you’re concerned, you can always manually set website blockers to essentially ban yourself for a certain period of time. But even better than that, I’d study as much as possible away from any sort of device.*

*I realise this may be a little divisive, as many students would prefer to study on laptops or whatever.

Perceptions & other stuff

Is it really important to have teachers that I like?
Spoiler
Debatable. I mean, having teachers that you like in Year 12 is a great thing, but if you have one that you don’t get along with, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t use it as an excuse. Don’t ignore the subject. See it as a challenge – something you can rise above. It’ll do wonders for your independence and maturity.
Okay, so let’s cut the crap – is VCE really hard?
Spoiler
There’s simply no objective answer to this but, anecdotally, yes – most students seem to find VCE difficult, at least at times. But importantly, it is by no means insurmountable. Countless users of ATAR Notes, for example, will tell you that you will be able to get through it and come out the other side a better person.
Should I work part time?
Spoiler
This is entirely up to you, and not a decision that other people can make for you. I know that’s not really helpful, but it’s true. It depends on your time management, priorities, ambitions, and whatever else. Some people in my year worked absolutely crazy hours further to completing their VCE, and that worked out well for them (particularly in the financial stakes). I didn’t work as much, but studied more, and that worked out for what I wanted.
This sucks – none of my friends are in my classes :(
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I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this is good, necessarily, but I don’t think it’s a huge deal. You’ll have heaps of time to chill out with your friends during Year 12, so maybe this is actually a great opportunity to a) meet some new people, and b) get some work done! I honestly don’t understand why people don’t pay attention in class, and then spend time afterward trying to catch up. It’s so much more efficient to pay attention at the time, take good notes, and then relax by doing whatever you want later on.
I’ve cruised through Year 7 – Year 10. Will I ace VCE?
Spoiler
Maybe! But not necessarily. Consistently getting A+s before VCE does not mean that you will do so during VCE.
Should I apply for a leadership position in Year 12?
Spoiler
I asked myself the very same question. Leadership positions are great for a few reasons: the experience, the personal development, and CV purposes (or in my case, my best friend LinkedIn). I actually really, really recommend at least heavily considering applying for some sort of leadership position. Doing so truly enriched my Year 12 experience, and I don’t think I’ve spoken with anybody who particularly regrets doing it.

It might take you out of your comfort zone but, at the end of the day, that could be a good thing.
Will my relationship with my teachers be different?
Spoiler
Probably! Anecdotally, students in VCE seem to be a lot closer to their teachers than students in earlier years. The relationship tends to be founded more on mutual respect. It’s not surprising for students and teachers to become quite chummy during VCE; I went back after I graduated, for example, and just chilled out with some hahaha.
I’m scared about asking questions in class because I really should know this shit by now
Spoiler
Honestly, getting over this was probably my biggest accomplishment in Year 12, and really set me up for future success in life. Ask questions. Constantly. I have a couple of magnets on my whiteboard at the moment from National Geographic. One reads “Ignorance is boring.”, and the other reads “Question everything.”

Nobody knows everything. Everybody is going to have something seemingly ‘basic’ that they completely missed one time. Ask that question – it’ll be worth it.
Is it okay to travel in the holidays before Year 12?
Spoiler
If you’re in a position to do so, I’d actually encourage it! As per earlier in this post, you don’t need to be studying 24/7 during your holidays. Take a break; Year 12 is a long year (in some ways – it’ll actually go pretty quickly), so try to make sure you’re nice and fresh when you go back to school.
Is muck-up day an absolute riot?  8) 8) 8)
Spoiler
The general trend seems to be moving away from muck-up day in it traditional form, and toward something more like “celebration day”. I don’t blame schools, to be honest; some of the stuff that used to go on was just ridiculous. But maybe that’s just because I’m a pretty conservative sort of guy haha.

If you’re going to do stupid shit, please at least be safe (for you and everybody else) and respectful. You don’t have a right or obligation to go around ruining things for others.
How about graduation and valedictory?
Spoiler
Changes from school to school, of course (some may have neither or just one or something different instead). I enjoyed them, though, and I hope you do, too! They’re a celebration of your schooling life to date, and you should absolutely be proud of your achievements.

I plan to continually add to this as time goes on. If you have any questions, please post! If you spot any errors (there will be errors), please post! If you feel you can offer some great advice, please post! VCE can be tough, but it can also be equally rewarding. I wish you all the very best in your own schooling journey (and beyond); please stick around at ATAR Notes! :)

P.S. I've just moved some things around, so there are likely continuity errors throughout (but there are also continuity errors in Harry Potter, so I don't feel too drastically bad).
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 06:05:42 pm by Joseph41 »
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Buddster

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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2016, 09:54:11 pm »
+1
with your atar discussion, let's say you get a 70 atar. If you're better than 70% of the state, you're in the top 30% yeah? not 29.95. Btw I might throw out a few suggested paragraphs

I’m a bit worried about my mental health – what can I do?

VCE will take a toll on you, and if you're unlucky, other crappy stuff may happen to during the year. Don't hesitate to talk to your school's counsellors or call the helpline. Also don't drop all your fun stuff to study, balance is required to keep your mental health going strong! Keep your hobbies!
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Joseph41

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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2016, 09:57:43 pm »
0
with your atar discussion, let's say you get a 70 atar. If you're better than 70% of the state, you're in the top 30% yeah? not 29.95.

Yeah, probably. TBH I'm not 100% sure on this, so would appreciate clarification. :) As I say, I'm by no means an expert on all of this, so any help in clarifying stuff or whatever would be grouse!

Thanks for the feedback and suggested paragraph, also. :)

P.S. Only 17 sections to go hahaha. ::)
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MightyBeh

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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 10:08:35 pm »
+1
Sweet stuff here, but a couple of mistakes I spotted while reading:  :-*

Can I study Units 3 & 4 of a subject with Units 1 & 2?
I think you mean 'without' here.

Okay – so how should I go about choosing my subjects, then?
Spoiler
There are lots of things that you might like to consider when selecting your subjects, including but not limited to your interests, abilities, pre-requisites for further study, and so on. Some users here on ATAR Notes have written fantastic guide on subject selection, because it really can be tricky and daunting. I recommend reading [http://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=161379.0 ]this guide[/url] by heidiii and this guide by Glasses.
Got an extra space in Heidi's link so it doesn't work.
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Joseph41

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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2016, 10:14:10 pm »
+1
Sweet stuff here, but a couple of mistakes I spotted while reading:  :-*
I think you mean 'without' here.
Got an extra space in Heidi's link so it doesn't work.

You da real MVP!

Cheers - fixed, hopefully. I'm sure they won't be the last haha.
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2016, 05:03:15 pm »
+5
Seriously an amazing post. Any student who doesn't share this post with a younger friend is a mug!
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2016, 09:08:59 pm »
0
Seriously an amazing post. Any student who doesn't share this post with a younger friend is a mug!

Hahaha. Thanks, Brenden! ;D
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2016, 10:07:41 pm »
+1
Unfortunately looks like I'm a mug, then. :-[

(true tho, and I totally will send a link to my school VCE coordinator LOL)
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2016, 07:58:17 pm »
0
(true tho, and I totally will send a link to my school VCE coordinator LOL)

The pressure! The pressure! ;D
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2016, 10:36:15 pm »
0
Ok, so I understand that you're 5th and 6th subjects add on 10% each to your ATAR, does that mean if you only do 4 you cannot reach an ATAR above a certain amount? Or is your ATAR calculated on how well you did on your current subjects out of 100?

Is it possible to do 6 subjects in year 12 or do you only have enough time for 5?

Also, do generally weaker cohorts make it easier to get a higher SS than stronger ones because it's easier to attain a higher rank?

Thanks  :)
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2016, 11:21:34 pm »
+1
Ok, so I understand that you're 5th and 6th subjects add on 10% each to your ATAR, does that mean if you only do 4 you cannot reach an ATAR above a certain amount? Or is your ATAR calculated on how well you did on your current subjects out of 100?

Is it possible to do 6 subjects in year 12 or do you only have enough time for 5?

Also, do generally weaker cohorts make it easier to get a higher SS than stronger ones because it's easier to attain a higher rank?

Thanks  :)

An ATAR is your rank which compares your aggregate against others. Your aggregate is out of 210 (4×50+2×5). However, some subjects scale above 50- languages and specialist mathematics. To get a 99.95 nowadays you need above 210 aggregate.

Most schools won't let you do 6 subjects. I did 5 plus university extension this year and only got away with it because they didn't notice until term 2 LOL. 6 proper subjects is very difficult and you'll probably get a better aggregate if you focus on 5 rather than do 6.

Cohort strength shouldn't effect the difficulty to get study scores. A weaker cohort means your SAC marks are worth less and vice versa
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2016, 01:02:12 pm »
0
^Thanks for this, Buddster! I'll just add my thoughts:

Ok, so I understand that you're 5th and 6th subjects add on 10% each to your ATAR, does that mean if you only do 4 you cannot reach an ATAR above a certain amount?

I believe it is possible to achieve a 99.95 ATAR with four subjects but, as Buddster alluded to, it's all about the aggregate. :)

Quote
Is it possible to do 6 subjects in year 12 or do you only have enough time for 5?

It's possible, but uncommon. My personal view is that you'd be better off studying five subjects (generally, that is - not accounting for specific circumstances), but your best bet is probably speaking with your VCE Coordinator or somebody similar. :)
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2016, 10:58:52 am »
0
Could somebody do me a favour and explain how bonus points work in the VCE system? There have been a few questions floating around but I feel too ignorant on that particular topic to answer them. I hadn't even heard of bonus points until like last year; when did they first become a thing?

If nobody can help out (I'll +1 you and add it to the opening post under your name haha), I'll do some research. ;D
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2016, 11:53:00 am »
+5
My understanding of it is:

If your ATAR is not high enough (i.e. above the cut-off atar) for automatic selection, selection people may consider other factorssuch as – drumroll please – subject bonuses. Subject bonuses go onto your aggregate score (the number that is used to calculate your ATAR, generally in the 100’s – for example, my aggregate score was 200.something or other)

For example, the clearly in ATAR for Comm/Law at Monash is 98. However, an additional consideration for this course is subject bonuses.

In this instance, for this particular course:

Quote
Subject Bonus : A study score of 45 in any English equals 2 aggregate points per study. A study score of 40 in any English equals 1 aggregate point per study. A study score of 40 in Classical Studies, Economics, Geography, any History, Legal Studies, Philosophy, Australian Politics, Global Politics or Psychology equals 1 aggregate point per study. Overall maximum of 5 points.

So let’s talk about hypothetical student A:

They got a raw 45 in Philosophy and a 50 in English and let’s say none of other subjects count for this student. Let’s say that they got an aggregate score of 156.23. With their scores, they get a 3 bonus points. Bumping their  aggregate to 159.23, in effect bumping their ATAR up from 88.80 to 90.25 which still isn’t enough to get them into their course unfortunately.  :(

Shoulda chosen a higher aggregate score in retrospect but too lazy to change.

Is this what you meant re: bonus points Joseph41?
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Re: How VCE Works
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2016, 12:02:57 pm »
0
^Yes, exactly! Thank you so much, HLS; I'll add it to the opening post right now. :)

+1 +1 +1! ;D
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