COVID-19 has delivered plenty of upheaval for our senior students, who were already adjusting to new subjects and assessments under Queensland’s revamped senior schooling and tertiary entrance system.

Governments, schools and education authorities are working hard to ensure Year 12 students will graduate this year and have their work assessed fairly.

The below links will help you get up-to-speed on government decision-making on assessments and find specific subject assessment information.

First, a recap on the new system

In a nutshell, the key changes to senior schooling in Queensland include:

  • a modernised suite of senior subjects
  • replacing the Overall Position (OP) with the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank: Year 12s graduating at the end of 2020 will be the first to receive an ATAR
  • the introduction of common external assessment worth up to 50 percent in General subjects
  • new requirements to obtain a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) and ATAR.

The Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) is responsible for developing and overseeing the new QCE system.

Recent announcements on Year 12

A change to internal assessments

At its meeting on 25 March 2020, the QCAA board considered the challenges faced by Queensland school communities in relation to COVID-19 and made changes to the assessment program.

“It [the board] understands that the pandemic has created an extraordinary set of circumstances, dramatically increasing pressures on students, their families and teachers,” says a statement on the QCAA website.

“That’s why it decided to remove one internal assessment from the total of four assessments prescribed in each General and Applied syllabus. This will provide some relief for students as they contend with uncertainty and disruption while working towards their Queensland Certificate of Education in 2020.”

The QCAA board said in a statement on 8 June  that it had settled on a “robust approach” for final subject results that will ensure fair assessment outcomes for students. More information about the new “subject result calculation method” will be released soon, it said.

External assessment timetable released

External assessments will be held annually in Term 4, starting in 2020. The 2020 external assessments will be held from Monday 26 October to Tuesday 17 November.

According to the QCAA, the 2020 external assessment timetable has been designed to:

  • minimise clashes for students across the 17 days of external assessments. Where there is a clash within a morning or afternoon session, students will be allocated to the alternative session on the same day
  • ensure students sit no more than two external assessments on one day
  • provide sufficient breaks between external assessments for popular courses and frequently combined courses
  • enable all external assessments to be marked in time for students to receive their final Year 12 results.

The timetable will be updated in due course to include language and non-language Senior External Examinations (SEEs). These are 100% external examinations and are different to the mainstream General subjects.

The timetable is available as a PDF to download. 

Factsheets on individual subjects

Factsheets on individual subjects have also been produced.

Sample external assessment papers

Because external assessments in General subjects are a key feature of the new QCE system, the QCAA released sample papers for senior subjects, in a bid to give students and teachers a feel for what those assessments will look like.

Essential English and Essential Mathematics common internal assessment

On 12 June, the QCAA announced that in response to COVID-19 teaching and learning disruptions, the common internal assessment for Essential English and Essential Mathematics would now be undertaken as a single phase in Term 4, 2020.

The single phase applies to schools that nominated for Phases 2, 3 and 4 and to schools that were unable to administer the Phase 1 common internal assessment.
Find out more in this QCAA Memo.

Frequently asked questions

The QCAA is regularly updating a FAQ page on the QCAA website with information as it comes to hand.

Student information on the QCE

The myQCE page on the QCAA website also has student specific information about the QCE. There is also a myQCE Instagram page which is regularly updated.


Earlier this year, University of Central Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp offered reassurance – and some frank advice – to Year 12 students worrying about their future amid the COVID-19 crisis. Read his full letter to students in our recent story. We promise you will feel better after reading his comments!