VCE Diagnostic Tests and Trial Exams

A novel approach to formative assessment for VCE teachers.

**NOTE: The CSI Diagnostic Tests and Trial Exams will not be offered in 2023. Depending on demand, they may be offered for 2024.**

CSI stands for Complete Syllabus Inventory. Every one of our topic tests not only methodically examines the content in that part of the syllabus, but we also include an interactive marking PDF and Excel spreadsheet so that you can easily and forensically track your students’ problem areas, both at a class level and at an individual student level. We offer CSI Diagnostic Tests and Trial Exams for VCE Chemistry Units 3&4 and Mathematical Methods Units 3&4.

Our Decode CSI Diagnostic Tests will help you to efficiently target your time and resources where your students need it most.

Step 1

Figure 1: Sample question. VCAA format used to best simulate examination conditions.
Administer the CSI Diagnostic Test for a given area of study.

Each test is designed to mimic the format and difficulty of the official end-of-year exams. Your students will gain invaluable experience completing exam-like problems in an exam-style format while being tested on only that relevant area of the study design.

Step 2

Use the interactive PDF marking form to compile a complete inventory of each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

We’ve made use of some incredible technology to create interactive PDFs that allow you to pinpoint, and keep track of, what areas of the syllabus are giving your students trouble. There is also space for you to provide feedback for each question should you so wish.

Step 3

Figure 3A: Marks automatically added up and displayed by section.
Review each student’s performance in precise detail.

As you’re filling in the marks, the PDF is tabulating the scores sorted by each syllabus dot point, and displays them live in a summary at the end of the document, along with a rating of your student’s ability in the area, based on an algorithm that factors both performance and question difficulty. The ratings use the same terminology as the Performance Descriptors for Outcome Tasks stipulated by VCAA.

  • You’ll first get an automatically calculated top-line score of that student’s performance on the test.
  • You’ll then get a summary breakdown of every single question, including your feedback, displayed centrally. This summary page will facilitate speedy recollection and revision of a student’s problem areas when returning to the topic months later for a SAC or exam.
  • After the breakdown of marks per question, the next section breaks down a student’s performance by syllabus dot point. Based on an algorithm that weights question difficulty and student performance, the student is assigned a rating for each syllabus dot point. You can readily use this list to hone in on where that student needs extra help to master that content.

Figure 3B: Marks obtained by the student for each question, along with all feedback provided by teacher. Organised in neat summary table for easy review by teacher or student.

Figure 4: Marks obtained by the student for each question, along with all feedback provided by teacher. Organised in neat summary table for easy review by teacher or student.
Figure 5: Individual student performance summary, showing a description of each syllabus dot point and corresponding student performance rating for that dot point.

Step 4

Figure 6: Aggregated data of the whole class for each question. Raw student performance data listed centrally at the bottom of the sheet.
Analyse the results of your whole class in the Diagnostic Centre spreadsheet.

The diagnostic centre is a spreadsheet that tracks the results of every student you have marked, and aggregates a wealth of data for you to learn about the performance of your class as a whole.

The average performance of your class in each question is tabulated so you can see which questions gave them the most trouble. For example, in Figure 6 you can see that 2/3 of the class got 0 for question 7a. This birds-eye view of the whole class’ performance can show you in seconds which problems would be worth covering in more detail on the board.

Figure 7: Class performance, grouped by syllabus dot point.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the spreadsheet is the showcasing of class performance by syllabus dot point. In Figure 7, for example, the class’ average performance in questions relating to study design points F2 (exponential functions) and F9 (composite functions) are rated the lowest, each at Medium ability. In just seconds after entering your class’ marks, you can get a clear picture of any problem areas shared by your class, allowing you to plug knowledge gaps quickly and effectively.


Extracts from the VCE Study Designs and the VCAA Advice for Teachers are © VCAA, used with permission. VCE® is a registered trademark of the VCAA. The VCAA does not endorse or make any warrantied regarding this study resource. VCE Study Designs, past exams and related content can be accessed directly at Readers are also advised to check for updates and amendments to VCE Study Designs on the VCAA website and via the VCAA Bulletin and the VCAA Notices to Schools.