Secondary Graduation and WACE Requirements

The Western Australian Certificate of Education or WACE as it is commonly known is a certificate that demonstrates significant achievement over Years 11 and 12 and is widely know as Secondary Graduation. Achievement of the WACE acknowledges that at the end of your compulsory schooling you have achieved or exceeded the required minimum standards in an educational program that has suitable breadth and depth.

The WACE Requirements

Achievement of your WACE acknowledges that at the end of your compulsory schooling you have achieved or exceeded the required minimum standards in an educational program that has suitable breadth and depth, as well as including a literacy and numeracy standard. It is recognised nationally in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), by universities and other tertiary institutions, industry and training providers.

While students typically complete a WACE in their final two years of senior secondary school, there is no specified time limit for completion. Study towards achievement of the WACE can be undertaken over a lifetime.

To achieve a WACE from 2016, a student must satisfy the following:

General Requirements
  • Demonstrate a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy. (This will be demonstrated by achieving Band 8 or higher in NAPLAN for Reading, Writing and Numeracy OR demonstrating the standard through OLNA during Year 10, 11 or 12).
  • Complete a minimum of 20 units or equivalents as described below
  • Complete four or more Year 12 ATAR courses or complete a Certificate II (or higher) VET qualification.
  • All students enrolled in a Year 12 ATAR course must sit the external ATAR exam for that course. 
Breadth and Depth

Students must complete a minimum of 20 course units or the equivalent. This requirement must include at least:

  • a minimum of 10 Year 12 units or the equivalent
  • two completed Year 11 units from an English course and one pair of completed Year 12 units from an English course
  • one pair of Year 12 units from each of List A (Arts, Languages and Social Sciences) and List B (Mathematics, Science and Technology).
Achievement Standard

Students must achieve 14 C grades (or equivalents) in Year 11 and Year 12 units, including at least six C grades in Year 12 units (or equivalents).

Unit equivalence can be obtained through VET and/or endorsed programs. The maximum unit equivalence available through these programs is eight units – four Year 11 units and four Year 12 units. Students may obtain unit equivalence as follows:

  • up to eight unit equivalents through completion of VET qualifications, or
  • up to four unit equivalents through completion of endorsed programs, or
  • up to eight unit equivalents through a combination of VET qualifications and endorsed programs, but with endorsed programs contributing no more than four unit equivalents.

The amount of unit equivalence allocated to VET and other endorsed programs is as follows:

VET Qualifications

  • Certificate I is equivalent to two Year 11 units
  • Certificate II is equivalent to two Year 11 and two Year 12 units
  • Certificate III or higher is equivalent to two Year 11 and four Year 12 units

Endorsed Programs – unit equivalence is identified on the Authority’s approved list of endorsed programs. Workplace Learning can have the equivalence of two (2) units in Year 11 and two (2) units in Year 12.

Achievement of a WACE

Courses units/programs from these groups contribute to the achievement of a WACE: ATAR, General, VET industry specific courses, VET qualifications and endorsed programs.

WACE courses are grouped into List A (Arts/ Languages/Social Sciences) and List B (Mathematics/ Science/Technology). Students studying for a WACE are required to select at least one Year 12 course from each of List A and List B

You are able to select across a range of courses at a range of cognitive levels to suit your skills and post- school aspirations. If you think you will be heading to university once you finish Year 12, you should enrol in at least four ATAR courses. The rank is used by universities as a selection mechanism. More information about the ATAR is available at the TISC website at

If you do not complete the course requirements to achieve an ATAR you will need to achieve a minimum of a Certificate II qualification.

ATAR and General courses are offered at two year levels – Year 11, comprising Units 1 and 2, and Year 12, comprising Units 3 and 4. The different certificates (I, II and III) available through
VET industry specific courses are packaged as two or four units.

Sample Western Australian Certificate of Education