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Importance of The WACE Certificate for Year 12 Students

Published on
May 13, 2024

WACE, or the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), is an award given to senior secondary students in Western Australian schools upon completion of high school study, and is recognised by universities around the world.

Why Do You Need to Achieve a WACE?

A WACE educational certification is your gateway to landing suitable future opportunities, be it in a preferenced tertiary degree qualification or entering the workforce. Your WACE document displays your competency, education and skills that you have mastered throughout Years 11 and 12 of highschool.

WACE Certificate Requirements

The WACE academic document is identified nationally in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). Typically, students are asked to choose courses to meet the ATAR, General, Foundation, VET industry specific, and Preliminary curriculum standards. 

Although the School and Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) allows students to complete their WACE requirements over many years, most students aim to finish their senior secondary study over two years.

The SCSA is solely responsible for managing the curriculum, assessments, standards and reporting for all Western Australian schools from Kindergarten to Year 12.

Literacy and Numeracy Minimum Standard Requirements

The requirement to demonstrate a minimum literacy and numeracy standard in your senior secondary schooling is quite essential to receive your WACE award.

In order to achieve this requirement, you must:

  1. Undertake an Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA); OR
  2. Achieve a Band score of at least 8 in the relevant components of reading, writing or numeracy as part of the Year 9 National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy, also known as the NAPLAN tests.

What are WACE Subject Requirements?

As part of the WACE syllabus, Western Australia students are required to obtain a minimum of the following units or courses as listed below:

  1. Complete a minimum of 20 units, which could include unit equivalents secured through VET and/or endorsed programs. This particular requirement must include at least:
  2. A minimum of ten Year 12 units
  3. Four units from an English language learning course, after Year 10, which includes at least one set of Year 12 units from an English course
  4. One pair of Year 12 units from each of Arts, Languages, or Social Sciences and List B, STEM subjects.

WACE Exams

School-Based Assessments

Students are put through a range of tasks developed and assessed by teachers of the Western Australian schools to gauge whether or not they meet the requirements of the course syllabus. These tasks are overseen by the school teachers in agreement with the school’s senior secondary assessment policy. 

At the end of each unit or a pair of enrolled units, aggregate marks are calculated to rank students based on their performance. A grade ranging from A, B, C, D, or E is assigned to each student and each course page clearly provides the grade descriptions as declared by the assessment authority. 

Students completing a pair of ATAR course units and preparing to sit ATAR course examinations will receive a school mark out of 100 per course unit. For courses incorporating practical assessments such as oral, interview, performance, production or portfolio examination in addition to the school mark out of 100. Schools are to provide a scaled score out of 100 for the written component as well as a mark out of 100 for the practical component.

Your acquired knowledge and skills in all the Year 12 ATAR courses are assessed through the ATAR course examinations. Students in year 12 who are enrolled in Units 3 and 4 of an ATAR course program are required to sit these examinations.

The ATAR course examinations are complementary to your school assessments and support them in many ways:

  1. A student is eligible for an ATAR course report for completing each ATAR course unit
  2. Generate an ATAR for university admission purposes 

Externally Set Tasks

The School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCAA) also referred to as the Authority is mainly responsible for developing the ‘Externally Set Task’ (EST) for all students enrolled in a Year 12 General and/or Foundation course.

The purpose of the EST is quite straightforward and the following points can aptly summarise its intentions:

  1. The EST provides a fair assessment for each student completing their Year 12 course syllabus
  2. Develops a solid foundation for teachers to learn and incorporate in their school-based assessment tasks

In the year preceding the administration of the EST,  the Authority notifies Western Australian schools of the syllabus content the EST assessments will be based on. Upon receiving this information, schools are required to train students on the provided course material in order to be well prepared for the actual ESTs the following year. 

The EST marking schema is uniform across all schools and specific school teachers mark student papers based on a marking key provided by the Authority. The school then provides the raw marks to the Authority and the latter reviews the EST scripts from each school delivering the course curriculum.

What is a Good WACE Score?

Your WACE scores are important as these are primarily considered during university admissions. Yor receive a WACE course score for completing each course and this score is developed based on your examination mark and moderated school assessment mark, each accounting to 50% of your total course score.

The table below is a rough estimate of the WACE course score standards. 

Kindly note that the WACE requirements are prone to change over time, so make certain that you are looking into the official website for further information.

  • 75 or above is considered an excellent achievement
  • 65 - 74.9 is a high achievement
  • 50 - 64.9 is marked as a satisfactory achievement
  • 35 - 49.9 is deemed to be a low achievement
  • 0 - 34.9 is marked as an inadequate achievement

What is the difference between ATAR and WACE?

An ATAR is a rank between 0 through to 99.95. This rank indicates your position relative to all other student ranks in the same academic year. The difference between ATAR and WACE is that ATAR takes into account the number of students who sit the WACE examinations as discussed earlier, and also the age of Year 12 school leavers.

For example, if you achieve an ATAR of 85.00, this indicates that you have scored better than 85% of the Year 12 school leavers belonging to the same age group.

An ATAR, on the other hand, allows you to apply for further education, such at university where results need to be compared to other students from other Australian states.

What Subjects Boost your ATAR for Medical School?

One of the good things about the ATAR is that it is internationally recognised and all senior secondary schools in Australia use ATAR to compare different student rankings to the state’s population. ATAR, in other words, can be used in any other state and for entry into universities anywhere in Australia. 

The table below shows subject prerequisites demanded across medical schools in Australia. This table can benefit your decision making whilst selecting subjects for your final ATAR calculation.

Undergrad Med School High School Subject Prerequisites
Monash University - Direct Entry Pathway
  1. A score higher than 35 on 50 isn the English language.
  2. At least 30 out of 50 in Chemistry
  3. Biology in Year 12 is optionale. If you did not undertake Biology during high school, you can undertake one of the Monash Biology Bridging courses.
University of Adelaide
  1. Subject requirements include: SACE Stage 2 level in either Biology, Chemistry or Mathematical Methods
  2. Good written and oral English skills
Bond University
  1. One of the following subject prerequisites are mandatory: English, English as an additional language or English and Literature extension
  2. Additionally, one of the below mentioned subjects is also advised:
  3. QCAA General Subject Chemistry or AQF Level equivalent Chemistry pursued at a recognised institution
  4. Completion of Mathematical Methods or AQF Level 7 equivalent from a well-known education provider
  5. QCAA recognised General Subject Physics or AQF Level 7 Physics undertaken from a distinguished provider.
WSU & CSU Joint Medical Program An important subject prerequisite includes Chemistry
UNSW Medical School Assumed knowledge in English language

WACE Exam Timetable

WACE Key Dates Description
6 September 2022 Personalised written examination and practical assessment timetable out on student portal
24 September - 16 October 2022 ATAR Course Practical Examinations
31 October - 18 November 2022 ATAR Course Written Examinations

We hope this guide provided necessary information regarding the ATAR, as well as WACE course and assessment processes for senior secondary students. If you feel like you need further assistance on planning your tertiary education pathway, book a free one-on-one consultation with our senior UCAT mentors and understand how to efficiently prepare for your high school exams as well as your UCAT.