VCE explained

Lauriston Girls’ School has a history of outstanding academic results in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) with students who studied at Lauriston consistently placed within the top ten percent of the state’s results. 

Lauriston students have the choice of two Senior Secondary certificates in Year 11 and 12; either the VCE or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Choice of pathway via VCE or the IB in the Senior College is one of the things that sets Lauriston apart from other independent girls’ schools. It enables the students to pursue their own interests and a course of study that suits the way they learn best. 

The VCE is the predominant senior secondary certificate in Victoria and enables students to choose from a wide range of subject disciplines. The program is offered as semester-length units of study in Years 11 and 12. Typically Units 1 and 2 are undertaken in Year 11 and Units 3 and 4 in Year 12, although many students choose to accelerate their course by undertaking a Year 12 subject in Year 11. At Lauriston we offer our VCE students a wide range of subjects in Year 11 (22 subjects) and in Year 12 (28 subjects) to enable them to discover and pursue the areas which inspire and interest them.

At the end of the year, students are assessed and given a VCE study score, which is used to create an ATAR. 

Why do students choose the IB Diploma?

The IBDP is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education, with final examinations, that prepares students aged 16 to 19 for success at university and in life beyond. It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.

IB Diploma students must choose one course from each of five subject groups delivering a breadth of knowledge and understanding in language and literature, individuals and societies, the sciences and mathematics. Furthermore, students must also choose either an arts course from the arts group or a second course from one of the other subject groups. IB courses can be taken at higher level (HL) or standard level (SL). At least three, and not more than four, are taken at HL (240 teaching hours), while the remaining courses are taken at SL (150 teaching hours).

Students who choose the IB are interested in studying a broad range of subjects to provide a strong foundation for tertiary study and in selecting three subjects that they will study to a standard that is widely considered to be at the tertiary level.

They also study three compulsory core components: Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the Extended Essay (EE) and CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service). TOK and the EE emphasise research and writing while the CAS course requires personal reflection and enables students to develop an awareness of the world-wide community of thinkers and learners.

All students who undertake the IB must able to consistently display highly competent standards in both their written and oral expression and an ongoing interest in reading widely by the end of Year 10.

Breadth of VCE subject selection at Lauriston

Subject categories Number of VCE subjects offered*
English and English Literature
Physical Education and Health
Social Sciences

*See VCE handbook for more information.

The IB is an international curriculum that specifically encourages students to think critically and solve complex problems and is assessed over an entire two-year program. Students choose courses from subject groups of Languages, Literature, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and Arts. 

At Lauriston, approximately 60% of students study VCE and 40% the IB. We also encourage all senior students to engage in the range of co-curricular and community activities available at Lauriston to expand their interests and to develop a holistic view of the world. Both the VCE and the IB provide a pathway to tertiary studies in Australia and overseas. 

What is a VCE study score?

To calculate a VCEstudy score, the total for each student who was graded via both internal and external assessment in a VCE Unit 3 and 4 subject in Victoria is ranked, and the rank is converted into a whole number score out of 50. 

Study scores are based on a standard distribution with a mean of 30. Students will receive results which indicate raw scores; these are study scores which have not been scaled. For subjects with large enrolments (1000 or more) the table below shows an estimate of the percentage of students potentially scoring higher than the score stated. 

Scores above 40 represent high achievement by students in specific subjects or studies. 

What is an ATAR?

The ATAR is the acronym for the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank

The ATAR is a percentile/number between 0.00 and 99.95 that indicates a student’s position relative to other students using statistical analysis derived from VCE study scores. The scores in each area of study undertaken by students are compared or ‘scaled’ (see note below) against other areas to create a percentile ranking that reflects the comparative performance of each student across the state despite the different subject combinations students may have. 

The ATAR is used by tertiary institutions to compare student achievement and they currently provide offers on this basis. The ATAR is calculated combining: 

  • The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) scaled study score for a study in one of English, EAL English, English Language or Literature. 
  • The next best 3 VTAC scaled study scores; and 
  • 10% of the fifth and/or sixth scores available 

A note about scaling: The Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA) consider that different students undertake different subjects and therefore ranking students based on subject performance alone may be unfair. Scaling attempts to statistically address this difference. VTAC takes a study score and scales it either up or down a number of points to increase fairness and to take away any advantage or disadvantage in undertaking a particular subject.