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Senior secondary

Queensland Certificate of Education

The Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) is Queensland's senior school qualification, which is awarded to eligible students, usually at the end of Year 12. Every young Queenslander must be registered with the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) during the year before the young person's compulsory participation phase begins. Generally, schools will register young people in Year 10.

Learning options and requirements

The QCE offers flexibility in what is learnt, as well as where and when learning occurs. Students have a wide range of learning options; these can include senior school subjects, vocational education and training, workplace and community learning, as well as university subjects undertaken while at school.

To be awarded a QCE, students must have at least 20 credits in the required pattern, and fulfil literacy and numeracy requirements.

Planning for a QCE - SET Plan

A Senior Education and Training Plan (SET) Plan helps students structure their learning around their abilities, interests and ambitions. As part of the planning process, students think about their future, consider their abilities and investigate their options for careers and further education.

The student, their parents or carers, and the school meet to develop the SET Plan, which details what, where and how a student will study during their senior phase of learning (usually Years 11 and 12). The plan is finalised by the end of Year 10. The SET Plan is reviewed periodically to monitor the student's progress. It can be updated at any time.

Monitoring progress - learning accounts

When a student is registered, the QSA opens a learning account for them. The learning account records details of learning and results of any completed studies. Students are able to access their learning account through the Student Connect website.

Awarding 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 - their learning account remains open, regardless of their age (however, credits expire after 9 years). The QCAA will award a QCE in the following July or December, once a person becomes eligible.

All students who finish Year 12 receive a transcript of their learning account in the form of a Senior Statement, which is issued in December.

After finishing Year 12, students who become eligible for the award of a QCE will receive a Statement of Results. A Statement of Results is a cumulative transcript of their learning account. These will be issued every July and December.

Tertiary entrance and the QCE

The requirements for a QCE are different to those for tertiary entrance.

Qld Core Skills Test

Each year, the QCAA conducts a common statewide test designed for Year 12 students.

Purpose of the test

The QCS Test contributes information for the calculation of Overall Positions (OPs) and Field Positions (FPs), which are used to rank students for tertiary entrance.

A student's individual QCS Test result is not used on its own in the calculation of their OP - instead, group results are used as part of the statistical scaling processes. A student's individual result on the QCS Test (from A to E) is reported on the student's Senior Statement or Statement of Results.

What is tested - Common Curriculum Elements (CCEs)

The QCS Test does not test particular knowledge of specific Year 12 subjects. It tests the CCEs, a set of generic skills identified in the Queensland senior curriculum.

The test assumes that candidates have basic levels of general knowledge and vocabulary and a Year 10 knowledge of mathematical operations.

Format of the test

The QCS Test consists of 4 papers - a Writing Task (of 600 words), a Short Response paper and two Multiple Choice papers. The results achieved for each of the 4 test papers are combined into one grade, ranging from A (the highest grade) to E (the lowest).

Those sitting the test are asked to respond to a variety of stimulus materials, such as prose passages, poetry, graphs, tables, maps, mathematical and scientific data, cartoons and artistic works.

Eligibility to sit the test

Year 12 students who are eligible for an OP must sit the test. Year 12 students who are ineligible for an OP may choose to sit the test.

Preparing for the test

The Common Curriculum Elements are generic skills that students work with across their subjects; therefore, the real preparation for the test goes on all the time and in every subject.  In Year 12 students participate in a QCS preparation course, which in one lesson each week until the test in September.