Are you smarter than a VCE student? Sample questions released for revamped GAT

VCE and VCAL students sitting a revamped general achievement test this year will be assessed on their ability to decipher hypothetical scenarios such as a hotel guest’s negative online review, a boss’s warning not to let food go bad in the staff fridge and a promotional offer for home-delivered meals.

VCE and VCAL students will have their literacy and numeracy skills assessed in a revamped General Achievement Test this year.Credit:Jason South

Students’ numeracy skills will also be evaluated, in scenarios such as calculating a casual employee’s higher rate of pay and varying internet plans’ download speeds.

The general achievement test, known as the GAT, is being overhauled to provide a more detailed appraisal of senior secondary students’ reading, writing and maths skills.

Sample questions have been released ahead of the first sitting of a revamped general achievement test in September, which will be used to assess year 11 and 12 students’ literacy and numeracy skills along with their general knowledge, critical and creative thinking.

The revamped general achievement test will explicitly report students’ literacy and numeracy scores against new standards, bringing the test in line with other states.

For the first time, those scores will be recorded on school-leavers’ graduating certificates.

The scores will give students and prospective employers a better sense of whether they have demonstrated literacy and numeracy skills expected of a secondary school graduate. The scores will not contribute to a student’s ATAR, the tertiary admission ranking used for university entrance, in most cases.

In another first, the GAT test will also be taken by tens of thousands of senior secondary students completing the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. Those completing a scored VCE vocational education and training unit 3-4 sequence will also sit the test.

The VCE and VCAL are being merged into a single senior secondary graduating certificate, starting next year.

The GAT will be held on September 7 this year, before returning to its traditional June date on the school calendar next year.

The three-hour test will be split into two parts: the revamped section A will assess literacy and numeracy skills and will be taken by VCE and VCAL students; section B, which will be similar to the old GAT, will assess skills in English, maths, science, technology, the arts and humanities, plus critical and creative thinking. It will be taken by VCE students but not those studying VCAL.

Students are not expected to study for the GAT, which is used as a yardstick for students’ exam results and school-based assessments. GAT results also come into play as insurance for students who miss an exam or exams and must receive a derived examination score.

The overhaul of the GAT was first announced in 2019 ahead of a planned 2021 change, which was deferred amid COVID-19 disruptions.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said the GAT was changing to give Victorian students “just another thing to prove to future employers and educators that they’ve had a great secondary education”.

“These real-world sample questions will give them a sense of what to expect in the new section of the test,” he said.

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