Changes to senior schooling
Why was the new QCE system introduced?
The Queensland Government introduced the new Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) system in response to national and international research and the advice of education experts to prepare Queensland students for the challenges of tomorrow.
What’s different about the new QCE system?
- QCAA senior syllabuses have been reviewed and redeveloped. Some subjects were renamed, some combined and some new ones introduced. The new ones include Design, Food & Nutrition, Literature, and Psychology.
- Authority and Authority-registered subjects have been replaced by General and Applied subjects.
- Students will complete fewer formal assessments.
- There will be statewide external exams as well as internal (i.e. school-designed) assessments in General subjects.
- From 2020, Year 12 students will no longer sit the Queensland Core Skills (QCS) Test, which has been in place since 1992.
- New processes will strengthen the quality and comparability of internal assessment.
- From 2020, the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) will replace the Overall Position as the way to rank Queensland school leavers for tertiary entrance.
- The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) will calculate students’ ATARs based on their subject results.
Have changes been made to the QCE?
To support the new QCE system and ensure the QCE keeps pace with the changing nature of senior schooling, some minor changes were made to QCE eligibility requirements. The changes will apply to students whose learning accounts were opened from 2018 and who will graduate from Year 12 from 2020 or continue to work towards their QCE after leaving school.
Have changes been made to Vocational Education and Training (VET)?
No. VET remains an important part of senior schooling and will continue in its current form.
I’m hearing a lot about 21st century skills — what are they and why are they important?
21st century skills are the skills students will need for success in work and life, e.g. critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and teamwork, personal and social skills and ICT skills. The new senior syllabuses give students the opportunity to develop 21st century skills.
My child doesn't know what they want to do after Year 12. What subjects should they study?
If your child isn't sure what they want to do after Year 12, they should choose subjects they like or have an interest in, and in which they are likely to do well.
My child wants to do further study after Year 12. Which subjects should they take?
If your child intends to do further study after Year 12, they should check how students are selected for their preferred course/s. They need to ensure that they choose subjects that fulfil the prerequisites for the course/s they are considering. They should then choose subjects that interest them and in which they are likely to do well.
Your child’s school can help your child to plan their senior studies to ensure they meet ATAR eligibility requirements, subject prerequisites, and other course entry requirements.
My child enjoys VET subjects. What happens if they decide to do further study after Year 12?
If your child completes an AQF Certificate III or higher-level VET qualification while at school, they may be able to use this as the basis of admission to a higher education course. They may also be given credit at TAFE for units of competency or qualifications they have completed during Years 11 and 12.
My child wants to start a school-based apprenticeship/traineeship at school. What can they do when they leave Year 12?
Your child’s school guidance officer can help your child understand school-based apprenticeships/traineeships and help explore the best options for them.
What is the QCE?
The QCE is Queensland’s senior schooling qualification.
What does my child need to do to get a QCE?
To get a QCE, students must achieve the set amount of learning, at the set standard, in a set pattern, while meeting literacy and numeracy requirements.
Find out more about the QCE eligibility requirements.
How long does my child have to get a QCE?
Your child has nine years from the registration of their learning account in Year 10 to meet the eligibility requirements for a QCE. Most students are awarded a QCE at the end of Year 12. Students who do not meet the QCE requirements at the end of Year 12 can continue to work towards their certificate for up to seven years.
What is the difference between the QCE and ATAR?
The QCE is Queensland's senior schooling qualification. The ATAR is a rank used for tertiary admission that indicates a student's position overall relative to other students.
Subjects and courses
What can my child study?
Depending on the subjects available at your child’s school and their learning and career goals, they may study QCAA General subjects, Applied subjects, Short Courses, VET and or other courses such as university subjects and/or other recognised studies.
Who sets and marks internal assessment in Years 11 and 12?
Teachers set and mark internal assessment for General subjects and most Applied subjects, In Essential English and Essential Mathematics one of the internal assessments is a common internal assessment, developed by the QCAA and marked by schools.
How much is internal assessment worth?
In most General subjects, internal assessment contributes 75% to a student’s final subject result. In mathematics and science subjects, it contributes 50%. In Applied subjects — where there is no external assessment — internal assessment contributes 100% to a student’s final subject result.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in changes to senior schooling in 2020. The QCAA reduced the number of internal assessments and the procedures for calculating final subject results in General subjects.
How much is external assessment worth?
In most General subjects, external assessment contributes 25% to a student’s final subject result. In mathematics and science subjects, it contributes 50%.
When will external assessment be held?
External assessment will be held annually in Term 4, starting in 2020.
The first external assessment for students in the new QCE system was held from Monday 26 October to Tuesday 17 November 2020.
The 2021 external assessment timetable will be released early in Term 1, 2021.
My child has a medical condition/disability, are there special provisions available?
Access arrangements and reasonable adjustments (AARA) — formerly known as special provisions — enable equal access to assessment for all students with disability or those who experience illness or misadventure. For more information about AARA, talk to your school.
Results and reporting
When will my child receive their results?
If your child is studying General and/or Applied subjects, they will be able to see their internal assessment results in their learning account as they become available.
If your child is studying a VET course or QCE-recognised course of study, they will be able to see the credits from that course in their learning account as soon as the course has been completed and their achievement is 'banked' by their learning provider.
Your child’s final subject results and Senior Education Profile (SEP) will be published in their learning account in December — after they have completed Year 12. The SEP will contain a Senior Statement and a QCE (if the student meets the QCE eligibility requirements)
Students can download electronic versions of these documents from their learning account and print them, or provide them as PDFs to a third party.
The electronic versions contain a digital signature and a unique validation code to confirm they are authentic. Third parties are also able to check their authenticity with the QCAA.
Find out more about how results are reported to students and how students can access their results .
When will my child get a learning account?
Learning accounts for students in the new QCE system can be accessed in the Student Portal via the myQCE website.
Who is eligible for the QCIA?
Students who undertake studies that are part of an individualised learning program and have either an impairment or difficulties in learning are eligible for the QCIA.
If my child has an impairment or difficulties in learning, do they have to receive this certificate?
No. Your child's school will consult with you and your child to decide on the best educational program. There are several ways in which your child's achievements can be reported.
What can my child use this certificate for?
The QCIA is a valuable record of a student's achievements. It:
- is an official record of completing at least 12 years of education
- can be shown to employers as a summary of a student's knowledge and skills
- can be used by training providers to help them decide the best training options for your child.
When my child leaves school at the end of Year 12, can they receive a QCIA and a QCE?
No. If a student meets the QCE requirements, a QCIA will not be issued. However, if your child receives the QCIA, they can continue to work toward the QCE — their learning account remains open for 9 years after it was opened in Year 10.
ATARs and tertiary entrance
What is an ATAR?
The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is a rank used for tertiary admission that indicates a student’s position overall relative to other students.
Does everyone get an ATAR?
No, only students who are eligible for an ATAR receive one.
Who will calculate my child’s ATAR?
In the new QCE system, the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) is responsible for calculating and issuing student’s ATARs. Visit the QTAC website for more information.
Which subjects will be used to calculate my child’s ATAR?
In the new QCE system, QTAC will calculate students' ATARs based on either:
- their best results in 5 General subjects, or
- their best results in 4 General subjects + 1 Applied subject or completed VET qualification at Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate III level or above.
If your child is eligible for an ATAR in both categories, QTAC will use their highest ATAR.
To be eligible for an ATAR, students also need to pass an English subject, but their result will only contribute to their ATAR if it’s one of their best five subject results.
How should my child choose their subjects to get a good ATAR?
The QCAA recommends that students choose the subjects they enjoy and are good at. Remaining focused and performing to the best of their ability will ensure students achieve to their full potential and receive the best possible ATAR.