The ACT Senior Secondary Education System

All colleges in the ACT may choose to offer their own range of courses that have been accredited by the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS). Consequently, there is no external final exam. Each college is responsible for determining the achievement of its students, usually by employing a system of continuous assessment.

What is a ‘Course’?

A course is made up of a combination of standard units within a subject area. A standard unit is equivalent to a minimum of 55 hours over one semester. A typical pattern for a course at St Francis Xavier College is as follows:

  • Minor – subject studied on 1 line for 1 year
  • Major – subject studied on 1 line for 2 years
  • Double Major – a subject studied over 2 lines for 2 years
  • Major-Minor – a subject studied on 2 lines for 1 year and a further 1 line for 1 year

The number of units chosen to study within a course determines a major, a minor, a major-minor or a
double major.

A course can be made up of a combination of units. A unit is a program of study in a course.

All Students at SFX College in Year 11 will study a minimum of 6 courses ( 6 Lines).

In Year 12 students may choose to continue their study of 6 courses (6 lines).  The College supports students studying a minimum of 5 Courses ( 5 Lines) in Year 12 with the understanding that this still meets the requirements of their package.

Those students undertaking  an ASBA (Australian School Based Apprenticeship) will have their program of study changed to accommodate their package in Year 11 and/or  Year 12.

Choosing a Course Package

The choice of courses and packages should accommodate strengths, interests and needs. St Francis Xavier College aims to offer a diversity of curriculum choices that will meet the needs of individual students. Many pathways are possible, and the choice of package and the level of courses undertaken should reflect:

  • the intended career paths
  • the courses and units that suitability, aptitude and interests
  • the requirements of employers and educational institutions such as CIT and universities.

Students studying Year 11 and 12 can complete several different courses and be issued with at least one of the following documents:

ACT Senior Secondary Certificate  The ACT Senior Secondary Certificate is issued by ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies at the end of Year 12 showing results obtained in all units completed.  Students have a choice of studying an Accredited Package or a Tertiary Package of courses.
Tertiary Entrance Statement  This statement allows students to apply for admission to Tertiary institutions.  It is a record of a student’s performance in all ‘T’ courses and their ‘scaled scores’, that is, course scores for each subject which are moderated by the AST performance of the group.  The ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies issues it. The statement also gives students an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).  This is calculated from a student’s best three ‘T’ Majors and the next best score in either a ‘T’ Major or Minor.
ACT Statement of Achievement  This is issued to students who fail to complete the requirements for an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate and / or leave college before the end of Year 12.
Vocational Education Certificates  Students who successfully complete vocational courses (‘V’ Courses), including participation in Work Placements (“on the job training”) may be granted a nationally recognised Certificate I or Certificate II under the Australian Qualifications Framework.
Statement of Attainment  Students, who successfully complete units of competency forming part of a vocational certificate, but who fail to complete all the requirements for a Certificate I or Certificate II, will have the completed units of competence listed on a Statement of Attainment.

Requirements for the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate

In order to attain an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate, all students must have completed a minimum of 17 standard units in an approved program of study.  This program should include a minimum of 4 courses from A, T, M, E, H or C from 3 different course areas including English.


Tertiary Course Packages (T)

If students wish to be considered for university entrance, they must complete a Tertiary Package.  The following criteria must be met:

  • at least 20 standard units
  • at least 18 must be T, A, C, E, M or H
  • at least 5 must be T or H units


These units must also be arranged into courses to form at least 5 majors, 4 majors and 1 minor or 3 majors and 3 minors.  At least 3 majors and 1 minor must be at Tertiary or ‘H’ level.

  • Students must sit the ACT Scaling Test (AST) in Year 12.
  • Studies must be completed in no fewer than seven terms.

Students who complete a tertiary package will receive an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate and a Tertiary Entrance Statement that indicates the 4 courses used to calculate the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

Accredited Course Packages (A)

For those students not considering tertiary entrance, it is not necessary to complete any tertiary accredited units although they may do so.  They must still complete an approved program of study, all of which may be accredited units.  It is strongly recommended that students choosing an accredited package check the requirements of employers and CIT and TAFE colleges since some may require a major in some courses such as English or Mathematics.


Modified (M) Courses

Modified (M) courses are for students who satisfy the ACT Department of Education and Training Disability Criteria.  All accredited courses can be adapted through the M Framework in content and/or assessment.  M courses provide opportunities for students to gain skills at an appropriate level while participating in a fully inclusive environment.


Vocational Education Courses

Students wishing to develop workforce skills at the same time as they complete college may participate in a course of study that has vocational components.

In addition to the college-based learning programme there is an extensive workplace training component.  Nationally recognised Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Industry Certificates I, II and III or Statements of Attainment are awarded to students who meet the required standards of industry competence.

C Courses

C classification is given to a Board accredited vocational education and training program which is delivered and assessed by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) approved by the BSSS and registered by the national VET regulator ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority).


Senior Course Handbook

All courses available for study can be viewed in the Senior Course Handbook. This includes full details such as the course description, content, assessment requirements and more.

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