Why Not Completing a VET program in VCE?

Photo:  Unsplash

Photo: Unsplash

Yes, why not? A VET Program or Certificate can contribute as an entire subject to your VCE. In other words, you can replace one of your six subjects with a Certificate in Hospitality, Retail, IT and many other areas.

Let me repeat that. You can REPLACE an ENTIRE SUBJECT of your VCE with a CERTIFICATE.

And that is AWESOME for so many reasons.

1. Certificates are not graded like VCE subjects.

When I was in high school 10,000 years ago, I worked at Video Ezy for a few hours every Saturday. While at work, my boss arranged for me to complete a Certificate II & III in Retail with Franklyn Scholar. To complete the Certificates, all I had to do is answering questions in workbooks. Most of the questions were fairly straightforward, such as “What should you do if a customer is behaving suspiciously in the store?” and “Should you count money while a customer is still in the store?”.  In the end, I received a “Satisfactory” and was awarded the Certificates at the end of the year.

Because VET certificate only has Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory benchmarks, you will not have the same pressure to get an A+, and will not have to dedicate as much time and effort to them. As a result, you can spend more time and effort on other subjects.  

2.  Having a professional certificate on your resume straight out of high school is incredibly helpful when applying for part time jobs, programs and scholarships.

Consider that most people have less than one whole page on their resumes after high school: you already have a leg up.

3. Your certificate may be directly relevant to what you want to study in the future.

There are certificates in a multitude of areas, ranging from Health Support Services, IT , Fashion Design, Dance, Music to Engineering. The sky is the limit!

4. Your certificate can really help boost your ATAR.

When I was doing VCE, because I had not planned properly, I did seven VCE Unit 3&4 subjects. However, your ATAR score only takes into account six subjects. Also, the top four scoring subjects, one of which must be an English subject, count 100% of their study scores towards your ATAR, whilst the two lowest subjects count only 10% of their scores towards your ATAR.

Based on that ruling, my lowest subject (7th subject) - Maths Methods - was obviously out.

But here's the funny part: even Legal Studies - my second lowest subject - also DID NOT COUNT AT ALL towards my ATAR.

Why was that the case?

Well, first and foremost, apparently with the Certificate, I actually did 8 subjects. They were:

1.     History: Revolutions (Raw Score: 40)

2.     Literature (Raw Score: 39)  

3.     English (Raw Score: 38)

4.     Religion & Society (Raw Score: 34)

5.     Texts & Traditions (Raw Score: 32)

6.     Certificate II & III in Retail (N/A)

7.    Legal Studies (Raw Score: 32)

8.     Maths: Methods (Raw Score: 28)

Secondly, it's important to remember that your ATAR score is different from your study score. While your study score is based on your performance, your ATAR score is scaled based on how fierce the competition is that year. Each subject is given an aggregate score, or a certain number of points, based on your scaled ATAR study score.

Because the Certificate uses the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system, its aggregate score is calculated based on 10% of the average of my top 4 scores. As the average of my top four scores was 38, 10% of it would be 3.8.  As a result, my aggregate score for Certificate in Retail turned out to be higher than my aggregate score for Legal Studies (32 Raw).

That was why Certificate II and II replaced my Legal Studies to be the sixth subject in the ATAR calculation, and the addition of 3.8 points to my total aggregate score helped me to push just over a 90 ATAR.

An example of VCE ATAR results, mine from 2012

An example of VCE ATAR results, mine from 2012

In short, if you choose to go this route, theoretically your VET program should provide a better score than an alternative VCE subject because it's based on your best subjects. And if you’re a good student, the more points you will get.

5. Conclusion: Be strategic when choosing VCE subjects

Oh the pain

Oh the pain


This is a picture of the flashcards for History and Legal Studies I made in VCE. If I had properly planned my VCE, I would not have made half of these flashcards, and saved countless, COUNTLESS hours pouring over my Legal Studies textbook and trying to fix my Methods grades.

Here is the moral of this tragic story: if you are in high school, especially Year 10s, you should seriously consider not only what subjects you need for uni, not only what subjects you like, but what subjects are most strategic to get the best possible ATAR.

Remember, it’s important to work hard, but you should also learn how to work smart.

If you decide to complete a VET Program, please let Happy Brain or your careers counselor at school know so that we can email the VCAA and make sure the program you choose is eligible.

This blog post is contributed by Rafal Hassan, one of HBE tutors. If you want to ask her more about her experience and tips, please email her at rafal@happybrain.org.au