General Achievement Test Australia

The General Achievement Test (GAT) is a standardised test administered to students in their final year of secondary education, typically in Year 12 in the Victorian state of Australia. The GAT is used primarily for university admissions purposes and to assess a student’s general knowledge and skills in literacy and numeracy.

The General Achievement Test was first offered as a trial programme in 1987 to evaluate the viability and efficacy of a generic test that measures abilities and knowledge without regard to any particular VCE courses. In 1992, the GAT was formally established as a requirement test for all Year 12 students pursuing the Victorian Certificate of Education after a successful pilot programme. Since then, the GAT has been held annually and is still a significant component of the VCE evaluation process.

Here we will be telling you about some of the important aspects of the GAT. That includes the purpose, format, duration, eligibility and scoring among others.

What is the purpose of GAT?

The GAT is designed to assess students’ general knowledge, critical thinking abilities, and communication skills. It is used as a supplementary tool alongside a student’s other academic results, like the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), to determine university admissions.

The GAT is crucial in ensuring that a school’s assessments and exams have been fairly graded, even though it is not required for graduation and does not affect a student’s final VCE or ATAR results.

What is the format of GAT?

The GAT is a written test that consists of multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions. It assesses skills in areas such as reading, writing, science, arts and mathematical reasoning.

The GAT has two components that are administered as separate exams on the same day. Section A evaluates literacy and numeracy. Section B evaluates the fields of math, science, technology, the arts and the humanities. Students who are taking the Senior VCAL sit in Section A along with all other senior secondary students in Victoria. All VCE Unit 3/4 subjects, including the scored VCE VET, require that students take both Sections A and B of the exam.

Section A

Section A is a two-hour Literacy and Numeracy test with 15 minutes of reading time (2 hours and 15 minutes in total), composed of:

  • 2 literacy writing tasks – 30 minutes total
    • Short-answer type writing – 10 minutes
    • Detailed response writing – 20 minutes
  • 100 multiple-choice questions – 90 minutes total
    • 50 numeracy multiple-choice questions – 45 minutes
    • 50 reading multiple-choice questions – 45 minutes

Section B

Section B is a 1.5-hour General Knowledge and Skills test with 15 minutes of reading time (1 hour and 45 minutes in total), including

  • 1 extended writing task – 30 minutes
  • 50 multiple-choice questions – 60 minutes total
    • 25 mathematics, science and technology multiple-choice questions – 30 minutes
    • 25 arts and humanities multiple-choice questions – 30 minutes

When can one take the GAT?

The GAT is typically held once a year, usually in June. It is a three-hour examination.

Who can take the GAT?

The GAT is usually taken by students in their final year of secondary school, who are planning to apply for tertiary education.

The General Achievement Test (GAT) is administered to all students undertaking Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) studies at the end of secondary education.

The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is the diploma awarded to the majority of students in Victoria upon completing their secondary education.

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) utilises GAT scores for several important purposes, including:

  • Statistical moderation of school-assessed coursework,
  • Reviewing school assessments,
  • Determining provisions for students who may require accommodation,
  • Calculate derived examination scores
  • Checking the accuracy of exam marking

What is the scoring range in GAT?

The GAT does not have a pass or fail score. Instead, the results are reported as a GAT score, and these scores are used in conjunction with a student’s other academic results to calculate an ATAR, which determines university admissions.

Section A

All senior high school students taking one or more VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) or scored VCE VET Unit 3/4 sequences undergo testing called the General Achievement Test. This test assesses their literacy and numeracy skills based on the Victorian Literacy and Numeracy Standards. These standards are like a measure of how well they can read, write and do the math—the essential skills needed for everyday life, work and further studies after school.

When students take the General Achievement Test, they get a report that shows how they have done in three areas: reading, writing, and numeracy. The report will say one of three things:

  • If they did well and met the standards, it will say they “have met the standard for their year.”
  • If they didn’t quite meet the standards yet, it will say they “have not yet met the standard for their year.”
  • If they did exceptionally well, it will say they “have met the standard and achieved excellence for their year.

Sections A and B

When students complete both parts of the General Achievement Test (GAT), they receive a score between 0 and 50, along with the statements mentioned earlier. This score is calculated similarly to how VCE study scores are determined. It compares a student’s performance to that of all other students who took the same test.

These scores are given for three areas: writing and written communication, reading and humanities/arts/social sciences, and numeracy and mathematics/science/technology. If a student has EAL (English as an Additional Language) status, it is also mentioned in their results.

The scores follow a pattern where the average (mean) score is 30, and most scores fall between 23 and 37. If a student gets a score of 40 or higher, it means they performed exceptionally well and are in the top 9% of all students in that subject.

Here’s a breakdown of what those scores mean:

  • A score of 45 or more: Only about 2% of students achieve this.
  • A score of 40 or more: This places a student in the top 9%.
  • A score of 35 or more: Around 26% of students reach this level.
  • A score of 30 or more: This is where most students, about 53%, typically fall.
  • A score of 25 or more: About 78% of students score at this level.
  • A score of 20 or more: Nearly 93% of students achieve this score.

Why is GAT so important?

While the GAT itself does not determine whether a student gains entry to a university, it plays a role in the overall admissions process. It helps ensure fairness in the selection process by providing a standardised measure of skills and knowledge.

How can one prepare for the GAT?

Students typically prepare for the GAT by reviewing their coursework and practising sample questions. There are also preparatory materials available to help students become familiar with the format and content of the test.

However, one need not stress too much about the GAT. One can still get the best ATAR, even without an astonishing GAT score. However, it is in your interest that you perform well in GAT as the scores may be used to improve your final score in ATAR.

To get additional help to ace your exam, you can count on the assistance of CrunchGrade’s expert to get the right help for you.

January 25, 2024
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