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New Queensland Certificate of Education System

July 09, 2021

Original Article:

Senior secondary schooling in Queensland has changed. Year 12 students in 2020 will be the first to graduate under the new Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) system.

The new QCE system will give students the skills they need for success in work and life in the future.

The Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) is the organisation responsible for leading this change, redeveloping and revising senior syllabuses and new assessment and quality assurance processes.

The Queensland Tertiary and Admissions Centre (QTAC) will be responsible for calculating students' Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for entry into university.

The QCAA, QTAC and the Department of Education have been working with schools and communities for several years to prepare for the changes and to ensure students are well supported to achieve success in the new QCE system.

Key changes

Redeveloped and new syllabuses

  • To support the introduction of the new QCE system, QCAA redeveloped and revised its suite of senior syllabuses to:
    • strengthen connections with the Prep to Year 10 Australian Curriculum learning areas
    • reflect the new assessment model
    • prepare students for the 21st century by giving them the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to participate successfully in the economy and broader community and thrive in a complex and rapidly changing world.
  • There are now 77 senior syllabuses, comprising General and General (Extension) subjects, Applied and Applied (Essential) subjects and short courses.

New senior assessment model

  • The new senior assessment model combines school-based assessment developed and marked by classroom teachers, with external assessment set and marked by the QCAA.

Fewer assessment tasks

  • Previously, Year 12 students typically completed up to 7 final assessments in each subject. Under the new system, students undertaking General and Applied subjects complete four assessments for each subject, leaving more time for teaching and learning.
  • For General subjects, 3 of these assessments will be school-based and one will be externally set and marked by the QCAA.
  • For Applied (Essential) subjects, three of these assessments will be school-based and one will be externally set by the QCAA, but marked internally by classroom teachers.

ATAR replacing the OP

  • Eligible Year 12 students in Queensland will now receive an ATAR rather than an Overall Position (OP).
  • The ATAR is used by other Australian states and territories. In Queensland, the ATAR recognises a broader range of learning including the significant role Vocational Education and Training (VET) plays in senior studies. An ATAR ranks students from 99.95 in steps of 0.05, and the OP ranked students in 25 bands of achievement (with OP1 as the highest rank).

No Queensland Core Skills (QCS) test

  • Year 12 students will no longer sit the QCS test.


The QCE remains Queensland's school-based senior schooling qualification, awarded to eligible students usually at the end of Year 12.

The new QCE builds on the strengths of the previous system—it records achievement of a significant amount of learning, at the set standard and pattern in contributing studies, while meeting literacy and numeracy requirements.

Attaining a QCE greatly enhances employment prospects and future opportunities for young Queenslanders.

This is why ensuring every Queensland state school student has the opportunity to achieve these qualifications by the end of Year 12 is a priority for the department under the Every Student Succeeding—State Schools Improvement Strategy .


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