Exam FAQ

Uncover the meaning behind acronyms including WASSA, WACE, ATAR and more frequently asked questions the Year 12 exam results and success in schools.


  • What is the WASSA?

All students receive a Western Australian Statement of Student Achievement (WASSA) when they complete Year 12. It formally records a student’s achievement in every course, qualification and program completed in senior secondary schooling and provides evidence of achievement.


  • What is the WACE?

The West Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) is awarded to students who have successfully completed senior secondary schooling and have met the specific WACE requirements.

These include either achieving an ATAR score (complete at least four Year 12 ATAR courses) or a Certificate II (or higher) in a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification, plus meeting literacy and numeracy standards, grade standards and studying a breadth of subjects. More information about the requirements can be found on the School Curriculum and Standards Authority website at senior-secondary.scsa.wa.edu.au.


  • What is ATAR and how is it calculated?

ATAR stands for Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. It is used to rank students who wish to enter public universities in Australia relative to one another. Find more at www.tisc.edu.au/static/guide/atar-about.tisc.

The ATAR is calculated by averaging moderated school marks and examination marks to determine a combined course mark. These scores are then standardised and then scaled.

The top 4 scaled scores of appropriate course combinations are added together to produce the School Leaver Tertiary Entrance Aggregate, this is then converted into an ATAR score. Find more here: www.tisc.edu.au/static-fixed/statistics/misc/marks-adjustment-process.pdf.


  •   Why is calculating the ATAR so complicated?

The statistical processes used are done in the interests of fairness for all.

Moderation of school marks occurs to ensure that students are neither advantaged or disadvantaged as a result of differences in the standards of assessment and marking that occurs within different schools.

Standardising marks is to compensate for variations that may occur in the difficulty of particular examinations from year to year.

 Scaling takes account of the ability of students undertaking different courses to ensure that students taking difficult courses are not disadvantaged or advantaged if they take an easier one.


  • What is VET?

VET stands for Vocational Education and Training. It provides students with qualifications recognised nationally by industry and training organisations. At senior school level, the qualifications offered are usually Certificate I, II, III, or IV courses. More at senior-secondary.scsa.wa.edu.au/vet/faqs.


  • What are the league tables?

League tables are a ranking of schools based upon single measure metrics. This is not a particularly sound way to evaluate the success of a school.

For a school where a large percentage of senior students aspire to university entry via the ATAR pathway, an important metric to consider may be the “Median ATAR” table. This table compares the median ATAR of a school’s students with other schools.

A range of league tables are published annually on the SCSA website. See https://www.scsa.wa.edu.au/publications/reports/statistical-reports/school-comparison-statistics.

Schools’ performance in VET are also ranked in a league table. The percentage of students who achieve a Certificate II or higher compared to those who attempted it is the metric. In the last few years St Stephen’s has been achieving a 100% rating in this space.

Tour St Stephen's School