BlogStudyWhat are VCE Study Scores and WHY are they so important?

What are VCE Study Scores and WHY are they so important?

What is a VCE Study Score

Confused by the VCE study score system? Unsure of what study scores mean and how they relate to your ATAR?

Don’t you worry, everyone who is new to VCE finds the grading system intimidating at first!

In reality, it’s actually quite simple. If you have a good understanding of how it works, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage to maximise your final ATAR!

Read on to become more familiar with VCE study scores!

What is a VCE Study Score?
How do you get a VCE Study Score?
Is 40 a ‘Good’ Score?
How is the VCE Study Score calculated?
Can I predict what grade I need for a particular Study Score?
How does the this relate to my ATAR?

What is a VCE Study Score?

Essentially, a study score shows how well you have done in a subject at the unit 3/4 level compared to everyone else in Victoria who took that subject.

The score is provided on a scale between 0 to 50. The score represents how well the students went across all graded assessments. These graded assessments may be a SAC (School-assessed-coursework), SAT (School-assessed-task) or External Examination.

The study score is not calculated through some fancy or confusing formula. It is simply a students final score placed in the range of scores available for that subject. Meaning that each study score is indicative of a ranking across the state!

How do you get a VCE Study Score?

To have a study score reported students must have satisfactorily completed Units 3 and 4 for a respective subject in sequence in the same year! This involves completing all the graded assessments.

There is no ‘failing’ in VCE. If you achieve a grade below 50%, your study score does not just become ‘ineligible’. You will still be ranked amongst everyone else who did the subject. In fact, if a 50% grade is the highest in the state, you would still get a 50 study score!

Please note that there are circumstances where you won’t be provided your score. Like if you get below a 20 study score.

Therefore, try to keep an open mind when going through your VCE journey. If you get a low grade, try to see how you went in comparison to the rest of the cohort, it might not be as low as you think!

Read our explanation of VCE SAC Rankings and how they can affect your ATAR!

Is 40 a ‘Good’ Score?

As mentioned before, a study score is representative of your ranking in a subject. Here is what some study scores mean:

The meaning behind VCE Study Scores.

Extracted from the VCAA Website under the ‘current students’ page

Therefore, a 40 VCE study score is absolutely a good study score. However, it is important to acknowledge that a good study score is subjective, try to focus on what study score you need, rather than want!

University degrees have subject ‘prerequisites’. Meaning you have to get a particular study score in a VCE subject to achieve admission into the degree, on top of getting the required ATAR.

For example, to study a Bachelor of Commerce at Monash University, you may need to achieve:

  • Achieve at least 27 in English.
  • Achieve at least 25 in Mathematical Methods or Specialist Mathematics.
  • Attain an ATAR of over 86.05.

Consequently, you don’t necessarily need a raw 50 in English, Mathematical Methods or Specialist Mathematics to get into Commerce at Monash University.

Sure, it would be nice. But you could get into the degree on a far lower score. Ultimately, the best study score and ATAR you can get, is the one that gets you into your preferred course!

Additionally, some subjects will ‘scale’ up or down. Your initial study score is called your ‘raw score’. Depending on the subject, your ‘raw score’ could be decreased by 9 or increased by 15!

How is the VCE Study Score calculated?

The VCE study score is ultimately calculated through a bell curve! That means if you are studying Mathematical Methods, you could probably calculate and predict what grade you need to get a particular study score.

Study Score Bell Curve Example

Here is an example bell curve — it represents all the VCE students that completed a particular subject and their grade. The average study score is always a 30, a little over 2/3 of study scores always lie between 23 and 37.

Using statistics provided by VCAA, the overwhelming majority of students will get a study score between 23 to 37. Anything in the top 9% of the state will get you a study score between 40-50.

Please note that the difference between the top 9% and 0.03% (yes, that is a raw 50) could be just a couple of marks.

Can I predict what grade I need for a particular Study Score?

You can! To some extent, at least.

Each year, VCAA provides a ‘grade distributions’ document for most subjects. The document shows how many people achieved a particular grade in Unit 3, Unit 4 and the external exam.

English Graded Assessment 2022

Extracted from the VCAA website 

You can gather a lot from the above data:

  • An A+ in the exam will put you in position to achieve a study score over 40 (only 8% got an A+)
  • An A will only get you in the top 21% of the cohort, no where near enough for a 40.
  • A C+ is only the top 55.4% of the state, meaning you are not guaranteed over a 30 if you score around 50%.

You should note that you will need to consider many other factors to be absolutely certain of your possible study score (you can never absolutely predict it), but this is a helpful way to get an idea of how you may go!

Additionally, this technique can give you a good reference of what grades you may need in a specific subject! Using the image below, you will realise that a grade of 78% in the external examination for VCE chemistry will place you in the top 8.6% of the cohort! 78% may put you on track for a 40!

VCE Graded Assessment Chemistry

Extracted from the VCAA website 

How does this relate to my ATAR?

The ATAR is a rank based on each students aggregate (total) produced by adding:

  • The VTAC scaled study score in either English, English Language, Literature or English as an Additional Language (EAL).
  • The next best three VTAC scaled study scores.
  • 10% of the fifth and sixth scaled study scores available.

For example, if you achieved the following:

  • 45 in English
  • 43 in Psychology
  • 41 in Mathematical Methods
  • 37 in Geography
  • 32 in Chemistry
  • 30 in Physics

You would have an aggregate score of 172.2. This total aggregate score is ranked – just like your study score – and is given an ATAR.

Aggregate to ATAR Table from VTAC

– Extracted from the ‘Reports and Statistics’ Page on the VTAC website

Above you can see a table of aggregate to ATAR conversions. We can use this to determine that if you have an aggregate of 172.2, you would get an ATAR of 95.60! Overall, this means an aggregate of 172.2 was better than 95.6% of the state!

The aggregate to ATAR conversions change each year and are largely dependent on the performance of the state. Although, changes between each year don’t tend to be too drastic, so the conversion tables of previous years still tend to be a good reference!

That’s all!

Study scores may seem daunting or confusing at first, but in reality they are quite simple!

My biggest piece of advice is to try not think about it too much. There is only so much you can control in VCE, how you rank in comparison to others is definitely not one of them! Instead, try setting goals that you can control, like a specific grade or level of improvement.

If you focus on what is in front of you, and take everything one step at a time, you’ll do fine!

After all, it’s just a number.

Need more VCE resources?

Use our comprehensive list of past VCE exams to start your exam preparation!

Boost your chances of acing VCE and check out our other resources!

Are you looking for some extra help with choosing and studying for your VCE subjects?

We have an incredible team of VCE tutors and mentors (who can provide tutoring in Melbourne)!

We can help you master your VCE subject study designs and ace your upcoming VCE assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or online!

Looking for VCE Maths tutoring? Get booked in today with one of our Melbourne Math expert tutors!

Still concerned about how tutoring will affect your ATAR outcome? Why not check with one of our expert tutors! We offer VCE tutors in Glen Waverley!

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To find out more and get started with an inspirational VCE tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!


Max Huyton is the VIC Growth Marketer for Art of Smart and a Laws and Commerce student at Monash University. In his other life, Max spends his time reading and writing whenever he gets the chance and cooking extremely mediocre dishes for friends and family.

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