Specialist Mathematics

What is Specialist Mathematics?

Specialist Mathematics is the one of the three main maths courses offered at VCE level. It is heavy in algebra and the application of mathematics. It is designed for students who have a competent understanding of the maths concepts covered in Year 7-11. Material covered in Specialist Mathematics Units 1 and 2 and also Mathematical Methods Units 1 and 2 are also assumed knowledge. Specialist Mathematics can be likened to the Applied maths studies of old. There are six main areas of study:

  1. Functions and Graphs.
  2. Algebra.
  3. Calculus.
  4. Vectors.
  5. Mechanics.
  6. Probability and Statistics.

In undertaking these units, students are expected to be able to apply techniques, routines and processes involving rational, real and complex arithmetic, sets, lists and tables, diagrams and geometric constructions, algebraic manipulation, equations, graphs, differentiation, anti-differentiation and integration and inference with and without the use of technology


A CAS (Computer-Algebraic-System) calculator is essential. The two main brands used in schools are:

  • TiNspire CAS calculator
  • Casio ClassPad

Students should bring their calculator to every class and endeavour to use it as much as possible throughout the year to build their skills. Ruler and pencils are required for the drawing of all graphs. A Mathomat, or other stencil templates, are not allowed in the Exam.


To pass the course, students are assessed on three outcomes.

Outcome 1 (demonstrate skills)

Define and explain key concepts as specified in the content from the areas of study, and apply a range of related mathematical routines and procedures.

Outcome 2 (apply these skills to unusual problems)

Apply mathematical processes, with an emphasis on general cases, in non-routine contexts, and analyse and discuss these applications of mathematics.

Outcome 3 (Use technology i.e. your calculator)

Select and appropriately use numerical, graphical, symbolic and statistical functionalities of technology to develop mathematical ideas, produce results and carry out analysis in situations requiring problem-solving, modelling or investigative techniques or approaches.


The student’s level of achievement for Units 3 and 4 will be determined by School-assessed Coursework (SACs). School-assessed Coursework will contribute 34 per cent to the study score for each of Units 3 and 4. There are three SACs to be completed throughout the year.

  1. Application Task (50 marks)
  2. Modelling or Problem Solving Task 1 (25 marks)
  3. Modelling or Problem Solving Task 2 (25 marks)

End of Year Examination

There are two exams at the end of the year.

Exam 1

This is a one hour exam and is completed without the use of a calculator or summary notes. This exam contributes 22 percent towards a student's mark for the subject.

"This examination comprises short-answer and some extended-answer questions covering all areas of study in relation to Outcome 1. It is designed to assess students’ knowledge of mathematical concepts, their skills in carrying out mathematical algorithms without the use of technology and their ability to apply concepts and skills."(VCE Mathematics Study Design 2016-2018)

Exam 2

The is a two-hour exam and students may use a CAS calculator and a bound reference book that they make and collate themselves. This exam contributes 44 percent towards a student's mark for the subject.

"This examination comprises multiple-choice questions and extended-answer questions covering all areas of the study in relation to all three outcomes, with an emphasis on Outcome 2. The examination is designed to assess students’ ability to understand and communicate mathematical ideas, and to interpret, analyse and solve both routine and non-routine problems."(VCE Mathematics Study Design 2016-2018)


Specialist Mathematics Video Solutions

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More information

More information about the course can be found in the VCE Mathematics Study Design 2016-2018.

Past Specialist Mathematics VCAA Papers and Examination reports can be found on the VCAA website.

Additional resources provided by MathsTurningPoint can be found in our resource section.