BlogStudyIs Year 11 Different to Year 12 for the QCE?

Is Year 11 Different to Year 12 for the QCE?

High School Classroom - Year 11 Year 12 QCE

Transitioning from Year 11 to Year 12 during your QCE can seem really scary — understandably so. All of your assessment now counts towards one number, with this number meaning quite a big deal to many students.

To give you some peace of mind, I’ll be running you through the similarities and differences across assessments, workload, stress, and more.

Let’s dive in!

Are assessments any different?
Year 11 VS Year 12 Workload for the QCE
Stress Levels
How do your results differ in Year 11 and Year 12 for the QCE?

Are assessments any different?

In terms of assessment, Year 11 is identical to Year 12. For each subject, you will complete the same assessment pieces a second time — only with different content.

And so, Year 11 is a perfect opportunity for you to learn how to best tackle these assessment pieces. It’s easy to sit back and think, “Well, the assessment in Year 11 doesn’t contribute to my ATAR, so I don’t really have to try very hard…”

What I would recommend is to treat every assessment piece you do in year 11 like the real deal. This way, when you put in 110% of your effort, any assessment feedback you get will be incredibly valuable. They may mean that instead of getting a B in year 12, you get an A (rather than going from a C to a B if you don’t put as much effort in). 

While the assessment in Year 11 doesn’t contribute to your ATAR, they are still super important. These assessment pieces, along with the ones you’ll complete in Year 12, contribute to your QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education).

Receiving your QCE is pretty important! It is evidence that you have successfully completed your senior schooling.


For students taking a 6 subject study-load, to achieve a QCE you must pass 20 of your 24 units. Suppose you take the following subjects:

  • Physics
  • English
  • Methods
  • Specialist
  • History
  • Physical Education

If you fail, for example, Unit 1 Physics, Unit 1 Specialist, Unit 2 English, Unit 2 History, and Unit 3 PE, then you will not receive your QCE. As you can see, Units 1 through to 4, contribute to your QCE, but only Units 3 and 4 contribute to your ATAR. 

Year 11 VS Year 12 Workload for the QCE

In my experience, the workload in Year 12 decreased. I found Year 11 ten times more hectic for a number of reasons. 

Try our Year 12 Readiness Quiz here!

#1: Less time and the same amount of content

The first reason was that Year 11 was crammed into 3 terms, rather than taking up the full 4 terms. This meant that we completed 24 pieces of assessment in ~30 weeks, rather than ~40 weeks.

Further, in Year 11, assessments generally takes a little longer to complete because it is all stuff you are doing for the first time. In Year 12, you are already familiar with what to expect, so writing your assignments becomes a little easier. 

Depending on if you drop a QCE Subject or not, the workload could actually be easier!!

#2: Not understanding new cognitive verbs

The second reason I found Year 11 more hectic was because on top of learning all this new content, and learning how to do new assessment pieces, we also had to learn all of these new cognitive verbs that we had never seen before.

Exams were no longer about just writing down information however you wanted — there was an actual technique to writing exams. This made for a little more work because I had to familiarise myself with these verbs and how to respond to them. 

Learn more about the QCAA cognitive verbs here!

#3: Study habits

The last reason that I found Year 11 more hectic was because I had terrible study habits. In Year 11, I was doing all of the wrong things — incredibly late nights on a regular basis (I’m talking about having 3 hours of sleep on average for months), doing ridiculously long study sessions without breaks (when I say ridiculously long, I mean 18 hours), and my approach to studying was very poor.

Studying Maths Exercises - QCE Maths Methods EA Practice Questions

You may be wondering, “What about your approach to studying was poor?” Well, one of my favourite study techniques was to rewrite notes. This is probably one of the worst things you can do!

Sure, it helps you rote learn information — but that isn’t what school is about. Further, I didn’t put enough consideration into what went into my notes. Oftentimes, I wrote too much information on things that weren’t very important.  

In Year 11 & 12, good Humanities and Social Science study notes are critical for achieving solid marks and your ATAR goal!

Ultimately, once you get to Year 12 you will be familiar with the assessment pieces and the cognitive verbs. Further, you would have learnt from Year 11 about what study habits do and don’t work for you. This way, you can reduce your workload by doing only the most important tasks and working more efficiently. 

Looking for help choosing a school for your senior years? Discover the top ATAR public and private schools in Brisbane here!

Stress Levels 


Year 11 and Year 12 are both stressful in their own ways. Personally, I found Year 11 more stressful. This is because it was a massive jump from Year 10. And I mean a massive jump — something that I know none of my peers were prepared for as well.

The content is considerably more difficult than that learnt in Year 10, the assessment pieces completed were completely different, we had to say goodbye to our friend the rubric and welcome the ISMG, we had to learn a million cognitive verbs, and we had to do it all in less time. 

Year 12 was stressful in that every assessment piece now counted towards my ATAR. However, I was now familiar with how to do the different assignments and how to best prepare for exams. So, I was more confident in my abilities.

Possibly the most stressful part of Year 12 were the external exams. But this was only because they were a new experience. Something that really helped me manage the stress surrounding the externals was to just think about how they really aren’t that different from any other exam i’d taken in my 13 years of schooling.

The only difference is that my teachers didn’t write them, and my teachers wouldn’t be marking them. Other than that, they are exams just like any other exam you’ve taken before. 

A bunch of students reduce stress levels in Year 12 by dropping a QCE Subject! Read about what that could look like in this article.

How do your results differ in Year 11 and Year 12 for the QCE?

Many people are under the impression that your results in Year 11 are indicative of how well you’ll do in Year 12. However, this isn’t the case.

For me, there were some subjects I did pretty well in Year 11 and that trend continued into Year 12. But there were some subjects that I didn’t do so well in in Year 11, but ended up doing significantly better come Year 12 (*cough* Physics *cough*). 

Note! Some schools make students do the real IA1 at the end of Year 11 to get more time in Year 12! Sound familiar? Check out these 5 tips…

I suppose my key-takeaway here is that Year 11 is an opportunity to learn and to figure out the ways you study best. It is an opportunity to prepare for Year 12.

You can really consider it a test-run. And so, if you make the most of the experiences you’ll gain, then you will have nothing to worry about when it comes time to confront the real-deal!

Looking for a Year 12 readiness quiz? Get your results and find out how they compare here!

And that’s it!

Wait! Before you click off, be sure to save our extensive list of articles and resources to help you ace Term 1 of Year 12! Click here!

Ultimately, whether Year 11 is different to Year 12 depends on your experiences. Some people may find that the workload increases drastically in Year 12, while other students (who were maybe very studious in Year 11) won’t think there’s any increase in work at all.

The best thing you can do for yourself in Year 11 is to treat it like Year 12. Try your best, work hard, and take care of yourself, so once you get to Year 12, it won’t feel as different and you’ll be better prepared. 

If you’re on the hunt for other QCE resources, check out some of the ones below:

Are you looking for some extra help with transitioning from Year 11 to Year 12 for the QCE?

We have an incredible team of QCE tutors and mentors!

We can help you master your QCE subjects and ace your upcoming QCE assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or online!

Nervous about the step up from Year 11 to Year 12? No need to stress with one of our Brisbane tutors!

We’ve supported over 8,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 20%!

We also offer one-on-one tutoring in the Gold Coast area to help you ACE your QCE and exams! Need a regional tutor to support? We offer expert tutoring in Townsville – get booked with one today!

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

Katelyn Smith was a pioneer in the Queensland ATAR system. After graduating in 2020 with an ATAR of 98.40, she now studies a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) at The University of Queensland — majoring in Physics. Through her studies, she hopes to develop a greater appreciation for how the wonders of the universe work. When she isn’t slaving away behind her unnecessarily large textbooks, she enjoys catching up with friends, scrolling mindlessly through TikTok, and sleeping.

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