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Update on the introduction of minimum literacy and numeracy standards

As announced in 2020, the redeveloped GAT, which includes the testing of minimum standards of literacy and numeracy, will be trialled in 2021, and launched in 2022.

Further updates will be advised via Notices to Schools and VCAA Bulletins. For queries, contact the GAT Redevelopment team


The General Achievement Test is a test of general knowledge and skills in these broad areas:

  • written communication
  • mathematics, science and technology
  • humanities, the arts and social sciences.

All students enrolled in one or more VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3 and 4 sequences must sit the GAT.

No special study is required.

Past study of subjects like English, Mathematics, Science and History prepares students for the GAT by building their general knowledge and skills in writing, numeracy and reasoning.

For instructions on completing GAT examinations, see How to complete the GAT

Look at previous GAT examinations

GAT results

GAT results are reported to students in December in the results package.

The GAT statement

The GAT statement shows a student’s raw score out of:

  • 40 for written communication
  • 35 for mathematics, science and technology
  • 35 for humanities, the arts and social sciences.

This statement also reports a student’s GAT results as a standardised score for each component.

The standardised score is calculated and reported using the same scale that is used for Study Scores from 0 to 50 with a mean of 30 and a standard deviation of 7.

A student’s Statement of Results shows whether they sat for the GAT and, if they didn’t, whether or not their absence was authorised.

A student’s absence can only be authorised if the school Principal obtains an exemption for them from the VCAA.

How GAT results are used

All students enrolled in one or more VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3 and 4 sequences must sit the GAT.

GAT results:

  • do not count directly towards a student’s VCE results
  • help check that school-based and external assessments have been accurately assessed
  • contribute to statistical moderation of school-based assessment results
  • help calculate Derived Examination Scores
  • determine scores in school-based assessment, external assessment and if a derived examination score is required due to illness, accident and trauma.

There is a close correlation between receiving good GAT results and academic achievement.

Some GAT questions relate more closely to achievement in particular studies. The VCAA takes this into account when it calculates students’ expected achievements in each study for each school. For example, GAT results in mathematics, science and technology play only a minor part in calculating students’ expected achievements in humanities studies.

School-based assessment and the GAT

The VCAA applies statistical moderation procedures to all school-based assessments to even out the differences in marking standards from school to school. This ensures that the final results are comparable across the state and are fair to all students.

The statistical moderation process:

  • compares the level and spread of each school’s assessments of its students in each study with the level and spread of the same students’ scores in the external assessments
  • adjusts the school scores if necessary.

In some studies, statistical moderation calculations use both GAT and external assessment scores. This is done where it gives a better match with schools’ school-based assessments throughout the State. External assessment scores always carry more weight in this situation.

The GAT is used based on the following principles:

  1. The GAT components are only used if they make the moderation process more reliable - that is the external scores are a better predictor using the GAT scores than without them. The statistic R-square is used to measure the increase in reliability.
  2. The GAT components must not exert too much influence on study scores. Tests are used to determine the level of influence. One such test is that no more than 5% of study scores should vary by more than 2. To achieve this, the influence of the GAT is kept to the minimum optimal level.

The decision on whether to use the GAT is made separately for each school-based assessment.

External assessment and the GAT

The VCE external assessment marking process is rigorous, carefully and expertly conducted and designed to be fair to all students

VCE external assessments are marked by two different assessors:

  • each assessment is completed separately
  • each assessor does not know the marks given by the other assessor
  • If there is insufficient agreement between their marks, the paper is assessed by a third assessor.

The Chief Assessor will assess a student's external assessment if a student’s score is significantly different from:

  • the score predicted by the GAT
  • school indicative grades
  • the scores for any other external assessment in the same study.

A student’s score may go up or stay the same, but it will not go down as a result of this final check.

See Identifying unexpected results for more information.

Derived Examination Scores and the GAT

A student whose examination performance is affected by illness, accident or personal trauma can apply for a Derived Examination Score.

All applications are assessed by a trained, external panel.

If an application is approved, a student’s GAT scores will be used in the calculation of the Derived Examination Score.

Read more about the Derived Examination Score process in Special Provision.