As students prepare for their exams, questions that only assessors can answer often pop into mind. Unfortunately, most students don’t have access to assessors in most of their subjects, so we took your questions and presented them to a senior VCAA assessor who has extensive experience in marking the VCE exams that you will soon sit. Here are his/her answers.

We hope that your exam preparations are going well.


How are the higher order questions marked? (6,8,10 markers) How can I aim for a top-level response? Also, is it worth knowing exact times/figures for energy systems or a range will do for full marks?

Higher order questions:

Questions that are worth more than 3 marks – including the 6 and 8 mark extended response questions (there won’t be higher than an 8-mark question on the exam) are marked in an ‘holistic’ manner. This means that examiners will look at the overall quality of a response in its entirety when settling on a final mark. There will be a set of ‘criteria’ for that question (e.g. specific content/terms as per the question, inclusion of data where appropriate and correct use of the stem word (i.e. critique/evaluate etc) that students must complete to give themselves the best chance of getting full marks. Then examiners will basically decide if the answer falls into the ‘high’, medium, low category based on ability to address criteria. So best advice, aim for what you can do to achieve a 7 or an 8 (high level) on an 8-mark question, rather than an 8.

Energy Systems:

Examiners wish for students to utilise the specific data provided in interplay questions – not quoting textbook figures (i.e. 10 seconds for ATP-CP). The reason for this is exactly the motivation for this question; different textbooks state different figures. So best advice, only have a range of figures in the back of your head (more so from understanding which system produces energy the fastest and why) NOT to quote it in an interplay question.

Does HIIT result in anaerobic chronic adaptations?

See the VCAA bulletin on HIIT

This states explicitly what adaptations HIIT is thought to produce and what will be accepted by VCAA.

In short answer questions, are we allowed to say ‘Q’, instead of losing more time by writing ‘Cardiac output’?

Yes, you can – Q is a scientific abbreviation (i.e not a made up abbreviation). Any scientific abbreviations such as Q, V, SV, HR, VO2 can all be used without writing out the term.

For others, if in doubt, write it out and use brackets to denote the abbreviation. A good example of this is the moment of inertia – this can’t be shortened to MOI without placing this in brackets after writing it out (i.e. “moment of inertia (MOI)”.