Australia: Global Assessment Certificate™ program (GAC)

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New for 2016

  • Australia
  • International
Education context

The GAC is owned by ACT Education Solutions, Limited, a subsidiary of ACT, Inc., and has been delivered since 2002.

The GAC is accredited as Certificate IV in Foundation Studies – Global Assessment, in Australia: course code 10025NAT

The GAC is a foundation studies course which prepares international students for study in an English-medium western-style university setting. It equips students to:

  • collect and critically analyse information from written, oral and digital sources,
  • use effective oral, written and digital communication to present information
  • apply study skills and strategies to enhance learning in a self-directed manner
  • use technology collaboratively to aid research, reporting and presentation
  • use mathematical ideas and techniques to solve problems
  • apply principles of management and international business to analyse case studies
  • investigate and report on scientific facts and issues
  • investigate and report on issues related to self and society in local and global contexts
  • work effectively and collaboratively with others in teams and groups

International students may take the course post-high school diploma – after Year 11 (Australia equivalent) or Year 12 – or concurrently with their senior high school curriculum.

In 2015, around 4,000 students completed the GAC in 12 countries.


The GAC is a one-year course-based programme which international students complete after or alongside the final years of high school.

There are three levels in the GAC. Level 1 comprises six compulsory modules. Levels 2 and 3 each comprise two compulsory modules of academic English and four specialisation modules making a total of 18 modules.

Each level is a minimum of 240 hours, plus a minimum of 120 hours of supervised independent study.

Students must pass every assessment in every level, before they can progress to the next level.

To ensure adherence to grading criteria, assessments are moderated at local, regional and global levels by AES academic staff.

The GAC modules are supported by resources such as the GAC Academic Writing Manual, the GAC Academic Research Manual and GAC Referencing Guide which are embedded into the programme.

Individual subject marks are indicated on the GAC transcript.

Subject areas

Level 1 compulsory modules comprise academic English, mathematics, computing, communication skills and study skills.

At Levels 2 and 3, academic English modules are compulsory. Students choose four specialisations from mathematics, business studies, science, computing, and social science.


Accepted by some UK universities as a group qualification satisfying HE general education requirements, as a one-year linear course.


In order for students to progress through the programme, they need to demonstrate competence in all the learning outcomes in all modules.

  • Assessment events are mostly subjective and grading is based on detailed rubrics.
  • Students must pass all assessment events with a score of 55% or higher.
  • Many assessment events have both oral and written components.
  • Assessment events are moderated by AES using a sample of 10% or more.
  • If a student fails an assessment event, they will have one chance to resubmit their assignment or retake an examination.
  • The maximum grade for resubmissions is a pass mark of 55%.

Most modules have four or five assessment components, one of which is course work and includes class tasks, independent learning tasks, as well as journals, such as reflective learning journals and vocabulary notebooks.

Assessments take the form of research-based assignments such as essays, annotated bibliographies and reports; projects and practical assignments; oral presentations and other oral assessments; multiple-choice, short answer and case study examinations; tutorial exercises and computer-based tasks.

Assessments, grading keys, rubrics and, detailed instructions for assessors are provided in each module’s assessment folder.

Assessors follow a moderation and assessment process, which is outlined in the training manuals.

Moderation is conducted at the centre-level, and regional and global levels by AES staff to ensure monitoring of, and maintenance of, academic standards.

Results are securely stored on the GAC database and grades are verified by AES academic staff before certification.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Grades from all assessment events for the module are added to create a percentage. Percentages for all modules are added, and a final percentage and GPA out of 4.0 is calculated:

A 4 Very High Achievement 94 – 100
A- 3.6 Very High Achievement 90 – 93
B+ 3.3 Very High Achievement 87 – 89
B 3 High Achievement 83 – 86
B- 2.6 High Achievement 80 – 82
C+ 2.3 High Achievement 77 – 79
C 2 Average Achievement 73 – 76
C- 1.6 Average Achievement 70 – 72
D+ 1.3 Average Achievement 67 – 69
D 1 Average Achievement 60 – 66
D- 0.6 Pass 55 – 59
F 0 Fail < 54
Guided/notional learning hours notes

A minimum of 720 classroom hours with a minimum compulsory 360 hours of independent study.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

The GAC is an accredited Foundation Studies programme (in Australia) that universities may recognize alongside High School results in terms of academic achievement, English Proficiency, or both.

UK universities may specify a percentage or GPA needed.

UK universities may specify a grade needed in Level 3 English modules in order to waive an English Proficiency Test.

Research by the University of Iowa, which has admitted hundreds of GAC graduates since 2007, indicates that GAC graduates are better prepared for tertiary studies than other international students, achieve a higher GPA, and often graduate with double or triple majors.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

All subjects are continually assessed. Statements of Attainment are issued after each level. Transcripts and certificates are issued on completion of the programme, which varies in timing from centre to centre and country to country. All assessment results are generated by the AES proprietary database – iTAP (International Targeted Admissions Profiler) (Log-in and password required).

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

From 2002 to 2015, a total of 8,872 students completed the GAC program with the following grade ranges.

A 4 Very High Achievement 4.30%
A- 3.6 Very High Achievement 4.30%
B+ 3.3 Very High Achievement 44%
B 3 High Achievement 44%
B- 2.6 High Achievement 44%
C+ 2.3 High Achievement 40.40%
C 2 Average Achievement 40.40%
C- 1.6 Average Achievement 40.40%
D+ 1.3 Average Achievement 9.50%
D 1 Average Achievement 9.50%
D- 0.6 Pass 9.50%
F 0 Fail 1.80%
Progression information/access to HE within home country

The GAC program has been recognised by more than 120 universities around the world for admission (and/or credits) to undergraduate study including 67 in the United States, 22 in Australia and 14 in the UK.

The GAC is accredited at post-secondary level as a Certificate IV –Foundation Studies programme and recognised as equivalent to Year 12 (pre-university course) in Australia

GAC centres are entitled to administer The ACT (standardized university admission test in the US). GAC students typically sit the test during Level 3, or on completion of the programme.