VCE IT Post Mortem by Mark Kelly

Last changed: May 15, 2024 12:36 PM

VCEDATA.COM by Mark Kelly

Applied Computing - Data Analytics

VCAA Exam Post Mortem 2023

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Section A students' average mark was: 63%

Section B average: 41%

Section C average: 34%


Post Mortem Notes

This is not a VCAA publication.
I do not speak for the VCAA, the IT examiners, or exam markers.
I was not involved in the writing or marking of this examination.
Extracts from exams are all Copyright © VCAA, and are used with permission.
Use these post mortems at your own risk.
I reserve the right to change my mind completely, at short notice, about anything I've said here.
Suggestions, discussions and corrections are welcome.

Questions look like this.
My suggested answers look like this.
My editorial ramblings look like this.
Examiners' report comments look like this.
Explanations of answers look like this.

Other VCE IT Exam Post Mortems to enjoy

IPM / ITA / Informatics / Data Analytics - 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2023

Info Systems / SD - 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2023

The Post Mortem Awards

Dog's Breakfast Award

Questions that are a complete dog's breakfast

The new and exciting Sad Dog Award goes to questions that make me sad

Sad Dog Award

There are lots to be sad about this year.

2024-04-25 - now with the great taste of the Examiners' Report

Written examination

Tuesday 31 October 2023
Reading time: 11.45 am to 12.00 noon (15 minutes)
Writing time: 12.00 noon to 2.00 pm (2 hours)


Number of questions

Number of questions
to be answered

Number of marks

Section A




Section B




Section C




Total 100

  • Students are permitted to bring into the examination room: pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, sharpeners,and rulers.
  • No calculator is allowed in this examination.
  • Students are NOT permitted to bring into the examination room: blank sheets of paper and/or white out liquid/tape.

Materials supplied

  • Question and answer book of 23 pages
  • Detachable insert containing a case study for Section C in the centrefold
  • Answer sheet for multiple-choice questions


  • Detach the insert from the centre of this book during reading time.
  • Write your student number in the space provided above on this page.
  • Check that your name and student number as printed on your answer sheet for multiple-choice questions are correct, and sign your name in the space provided to verify this.

At the end of the examination

  • Place the answer sheet for multiple-choice questions inside the front cover of this book.
  • You may keep the detached insert.

Students are NOT permitted to bring mobile phones and/or any other unauthorised electronic devices into the examination room.

Examiners' report general comments - added 2024-04-25

In Section A

  • the multiple-choice questions were mostly answered very well.
  • Areas in which students scored highly related to data security, file naming/management and spreadsheets.
  • Areas in which students did not score well were constraints, research questions, charts and efficiency and effectiveness.

In Section B

  • it was evident that students understood backing up strategies.
  • Areas for improvement include normalisation, design principles and testing techniques.

In Section C

  • students were able to design an appropriate form for a survey (Question 3),
  • understand networks and security (Question 6), and
  • showed an understanding of why sources should be referenced (Question 8) and of legal issues (Question 15).

Areas for improvement include:

  • Drawing a Gantt chart (Question 2): when drawing the dependencies students need to start at the end of the last task and go to the start of the next task and through the milestone. Marks are not awarded if the line for the dependencies either starts or finishes in the middle of the task. Milestones need to be on the line (start of the day that the milestone relates to) and students need to identify reasons why a response needs to be codified (Question 4a.).

  • A large number of students did not know or understand what a Geographic Information System (GIS) was (Question 9) nor could they explain how that information could be used in a visualisation.

  • Students struggled with questions relating to data validation (Question 12a.); in this question students needed to give an example that relates directly to the case study to gain full marks.

Other areas that should be addressed include:

  • When answering a question that asks students to justify a response, the response must involve a comparison of the stated option against an alternative option and state why the stated option is preferred (Section B, Question 2c.).

  • Students should always give an example that relates to the relevant question or case study, or they will not be able to obtain full marks (Section C, Questions 4b., 9b., 12 and 13b.).

  • When quoting legislation (Section C, Question 15), such as one of the acts, students must include the correct year to receive marks for that component of the question (e.g. Privacy Act 1988).

  • Students need to be familiar with the Applied Computing study design and the ‘Software tools and functions’ document from the beginning of each year.

SECTION A - Multiple-choice questions

Instructions for Section A

Answer all questions in pencil on the answer sheet provided for multiple-choice questions.
Choose the response that is correct or that best answers the question.
A correct answer scores 1, an incorrect answer scores 0.
Marks will not be deducted for incorrect answers.
No marks will be given if more than one answer is completed for any question


Use the following information to answer Questions 1 and 2.

The owner of a new luxury cat boarding house, where cat owners leave their cats while on holiday, is setting up a customer database.


Question 1

The most appropriate data type for a mobile telephone number field would be
A. text.
B. integer.
C. Boolean.
D. numeric.

Answer is A.

The examiners are wildly assuming that all students know the format of a mobile phone number. Maybe most students do know - maybe they don't. But exams should not assume knowlege that is beyond the study design.

The exam should have given an example number to give students guidance, e.g. '0404 999 444'' to make it clear what the question is trying to examine.

The example data is alphanumeric, since it contains leading zeros and alphabetical data (spaces) as well as numerals. It can only be stored as text/string.

- Boolean can only store true/false values.

- Integer/numeric cannot store spaces, and don't need to be be stored as numbers because no maths wiill be done with the data anyway.

Not a good start.

I give this a "Cat Is Not Happy At The Luxury Boarding House" award. (I admit, I won't be giving these out very often.)

A mobile telephone number is not needed for a calculation in a database and therefore the most appropriate data type should be text.

50% of students agreed with the official answer. 31% chose D.


Question 2

A field in the database contains data about a cat’s birthday. Which is the most appropriate field name to use?

A. catBirthday
B. customerBirthday
C. allTheCatsBirthday
D. birthday_exact_estimated

Answer is A.

Three options are awful, and easy to dismiss.

Options A to C use 'CamelCase notation' (capitalising the first letters of words within a string), so that's A Good Thing ™.

(A) is using Hungarian Notation to indicate the field's table as a prefix, as one would do with staffID, productID, saleID etc. The prefix keeps reminding people of what table the ID belongs to. This is a jolly good idea.

(B) is inaccurate. It's not the cat owner's birthday data, it's the cat's.

(C) What is the "allThe" rubbish at the beginning? It makes no sense and adds no information.

(D) is the incoherent rambling of a deeply disturbed database designer. How can a birthdate be both exact and estimated? Step carefully away from this option.

What do you do when you get a Section A question and you don't really like any of the available options? Look at the instruction at the beginning of Section A: Choose the response that is correct or that best answers the question. You go with the least-bad option.

91% of students agreed with the official answer.


Question 3

Jace is designing a spreadsheet to record data about the different types of flowers in his suburb. He is not worried about the appearance of the spreadsheet; however, he is focused on the functionality. The characteristics of the spreadsheet should include

A. usability and appearance.
B. repetition, colour, proportion, text hierarchy, text style and titles.
C. robustness, flexibility, ease of use, navigation and error tolerance.
D. navigation, error tolerance, repetition, colour, robustness and ease of use.

Answer is C.

'Functionality' is not defined in the Holy Glossary. So we use common sense to guide us. This is rare and valuable talent - use it whenever you are in doubt in exams, or life in general.

Let's look at each option in turn using Common Sense

A. usability and appearance.

Usability - fine. That is important to functionality. Good so far.

Appearance - Then remember that the question specified that "He is not worried about the appearance of the spreadsheet". So this option is invalid.

Mentally or physically (during writing time only) cross out option A.

Remember that if an option has more than one component (e.g. 'usability and appearance') , all of the components must be true for the option to be true.

B. repetition, colour, proportion, text hierarchy, text style and titles.

Several components are directly related to appearance.

Put a mental cross (during reading time) or physical cross (during writing time) against this option because it has no redeeming features.

C. robustness, flexibility, ease of use, navigation and error tolerance.

Robustness means the solution can withstand unusual and challenging events, and has a low failure rate. e.g. it can cope with huge data sets, and it won't crash if it is fed invalid data. So that aids functionality.

Flexibility means it can be used for a variety of tasks. That certainly aids functionality. Looking good so far.

Navigation. Yeah. Navigation is nice. Being able to get from place to place in a solution is always a good idea.

Error tolerance - humans are notoriously stupid. You know this. Anticipating human stupidity and being able to recover from it is vital to creating a functional solution. e.g. if the user types in "nine" instead of the numeral "9" you don't want the system to crash because of a data type mismatch. A functional system would validate inputs and filter out the human stupidity before it infected the data. Also, systems errors (e.g. power failure, running out of memory, loss of network connection) can be handled gracefully by a solution that functions well.

So - option C deserves a tick. It's good in all its aspects.

D. navigation, error tolerance, repetition, colour, robustness and ease of use.

Eagle-eyed students would immediately be on the alert having noticed that this option repeats two items from option C.
That usually means that the two options with shared ingredients are the true candidates for selection, and their differences make all the difference.

Ignore the shared items. D. navigation, error tolerance, repetition, colour, robustness and ease of use.

Focus on what options C and D do not have in common.
Repetition and colour are qualities of a solution and may indirectly aid functionality, but they suffer the same fault as option B.
Ease of use is a good help to functionality, so that's fine.

Put a question mark against option D. It's iffy.

So - which of the options stands out with the fewest dodgy components. It has to be C.

As with most section A questions, the time you save in not having to write an answer should be invested in thinking through the subtle differences between the options.

90% of students agreed with the official answer


Question 4

The owner of a European car sales company is looking for an effective way to display a list of all cars made after 2020 from either Italy or Germany in their database.
This query would be written as

A. Year < 2020 AND (Country = ‘Italy’ OR Country = ‘Germany’).
B. Year < 2020 AND (Country = ‘Italy’ AND Country = ‘Germany’).
C. Year > 2020 AND (Country = ‘Italy’ OR Country = ‘Germany’).
D. Year >= 2020 AND (Country = ‘Italy’ AND Country = ‘Germany’).

Answer is C.

This is an easy one. Such questions about boundary conditions (where a solution's behaviour should change - a.k.a. 'tipping point') are usually the domain of Software Development but it's relevant to database queries, so I'll allow it. hehehe

A good and knowledgeable student will immediately check which options are impossible. The query wants cars made after 2020 and there's only one option that gets that exactly right: C. Don't be sucked in by D which includes cars made in andt after 2020.

The 'country' part of the equation is a simple choice of AND or OR. Not difficult, even for students of physical education.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad because it would have been better if option B used a ">" test.

It was an wasted opportunity to exercise students on both logical tests. Sigh.

76% of students agreed with the official answer. 14% chose A.


Question 5

Examples of digital system components include

A. a phone, printer and data.
B. a touch screen, software and a printer.
C. a virtual reality (VR) headset, hardware and formats.
D. a smart speaker, people and processes.

Answer is B.

This is a simple definition question. Sometimes you will be directly examined on what the study design dictates.

You need to toe the line even if you deeply disagree with the study design. e.g. for many years the study design insisted that "ease of use" was an efficiency criterion. I disagreed strongly - for many years - but had to use VCAA's definition when I answered questions. Finally, VCAA retracted their dodgy definition.

The moral is: use VCAA's study design definitions even if you don't agree with them. You will not earn points by arguing the toss during an exam answer.

The study design says (in part)

Digital systems focuses on the functions and technical underpinnings of hardware and software components, as well as networks and the internet, including protocols.

This concept focuses on how hardware and software are used to manage and control access to secure data. Digital systems form one of the components of an information system, along with people, data and processes.

And the glossary says a digital system,

Refers to elements such as hardware and software, and their interconnectedness, used to create digital solutions. When digital systems are connected they form a network.

If you are aiming for a high score, you must be acquainted with the the VCAA study design. Take what your teacher and textbook says, but - for your own sake - read the study design carefully. Teachers are fallible (yes, true! Shocking news) and textbooks are NOT official - and can be downright bad. I've written five of them, so I know.

Again, take each option in turn and give it a CROSS, QUESTION MARK, or TICK.

A. a phone, printer and data.

A (mobile?) phone? It does processing, but is not really computer hardware. Data is neither hardware nor software, but is vital to computer systems. Unsure. Give it a question mark and move on.

B. a touch screen, software and a printer.

Touch screens and printers are hardware - so they fit. Software fits. Give it a tick.

C. a virtual reality (VR) headset, hardware and formats.

Headset - hardware. Hardware - is also hardware, which is fine.
But formats? Nope. Cross this one out.

D. a smart speaker, people and processes.

People and processes are defined as separate parts of an information system. Cross out this option.

69% of students agreed with the official answer. 19% chose A.


Question 6

Consider a dynamic data visualisation solution aimed at a particular audience where their level of expertise needs to be considered.
A typical constraint on the solution will be

A. social.
B. usability.
C. technical.
D. age appropriateness.

My answer is B. The examiners say it is A.

A. Expertise is not really determined by social factors. Certain social attributes may affect expertise, but it's a stretch. Question-mark it.

B. Usability. Yep. A solution definitely needs to be usable by people with different levels of skill. A confident tick.

C. Technical. Not really applicable. At a stretch you could argue that really unskilled users might need special technical requirements such as... ummm. Question-mark it and move on.

D. Age appropriateness. Not really related to expertise. Really young users might be less skilled than older users, but again it's a stretch. QM it.

The examiners say the answer is A - but I and 36% of the state chose B.

Only 26% of the state agreed with the examiners who claim that "A social constraint relates to the level of expertise of the end user. A is the only option."

It was a shocking question.


Question 7

A school was concerned about their students’ poor academic results and was proposing a research question to investigate. School leaders had initial ideas about how the time spent by students playing video games impacted their sleep.
Which of the following is the best research question to pursue?

A. Are video games and lack of sleep bad for study results?
B. What is the impact of playing video games on academic results?
C. Do students who play video games at night and have reduced sleep get lower academic results?
D. Can students who play console games achieve higher results than those who play online computer games?

My answer is C. The examiners say it is B.

I loathe using the noun 'impact' as a verb. I hate verbing nouns.

A. Are video games and lack of sleep bad for study results?

Does not establish a causal [WARNING! ''causal' refers to cause and effect. It is NOT related to "casual"! ] relationship between gaming, sleep, and results. Maybe insomnia makes students stay up playing games? Maybe gaming causes poor results, which keeps students awake at night? It's all rather confusing in terms of cause and effect. QM it.

B. What is the impact of playing video games on academic results?

Ignores the issue of sleep completely, and sleep was a major factor in the the school's investigation.

C. Do students who play video games at night and have reduced sleep get lower academic results?

This is the only option that does not assume that gaming causes reduced sleep AND that reduced sleep causes lower academic results. TICK!

D. Can students who play console games achieve higher results than those who play online computer games?

The type of game is irrelevant.

Again, the majority of the state (50%) chose C. 42% chose the official answer, B.

The examiners say "A research question must start with ‘What’, ‘Why’ or ‘How’. B is the only response that does this."


Question 8

Qualitative data is generally
A. expressed in words, uses closed questions and is collected on a large scale.
B. expressed numerically, uses open questions and is collected on a large scale.
C. expressed in words, involves opinion and is collected on a small scale.
D. expressed numerically, involves opinion and is collected on a small scale.

Answer is C.

Again, with a quick scan, you can see patterns in the options:

  • A and C are word-based; B and D are numerical.
  • C and D are identical apart from the words/numerically component.
  • A and B are large scale, C and D are small scale.

If you know the difference between these pairs, you can immediately reduce your options by 50%.

But remember: each of the options has 3 components, all of which must be acceptable if the option is going to be acceptable.

Qualitative data is opinion-based, compared with quantitative data, which is data-based measurement.

How a person feels about using a piece of software is qualitative. How long it takes them to use the software is quantitative.

It's this nugget of knowledge that the question is assessing you on.

Qualitative data (e.g. from interviews) tends to be done on a small scale due the amount of time and effort needed to collect the data.

That limits us to options C and D. Now to focus on their difference: word-based or numerically-based?

Qualitative data tends to be expressed in words, describing the qualities or characteristics of something.

Quantitative data expresses numbers, counts, averages, totals etc.

So, it is C.

82% of students agreed with the official answer.


Question 9

Thanos has been collecting data from her class about the hours that they play online games on the weekend, and she records this in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet calculates the total hours played on the weekend; however, the spreadsheet does not have data for two members of the class.
Which aspect of data integrity has been affected?

A. accuracy
B. relevance
C. correctness
D. reasonableness

The study design (Data Analytics U3O1 KK02) says, "factors influencing the integrity of data, including accuracy, authenticity, correctness, reasonableness, relevance and timeliness"

I wish VCAA study design writers would use the Oxford Comma. It greatly reduces the chance of misinterpretation of lists.

Let's start with some dictionary definitions for the options in the question:

  • Accuracy - The quality of being near to the true value. In maths, the number of significant figures given in a number.
  • Relevance - The relation of something to the matter at hand.
  • Correctness - Conformity to fact or truth.
  • Reasonableness - The quality of being plausible or acceptable to a reasonable person.

So, how does missing data affect data integrity? It affects completeness, but this is not one of the options (but it is listed as a measure of effectiveness in the glossary.)

The incomplete data collected by Thanos can still be accurate: she could have a total with 6 decimal places. So that's not a problem.

Thanos' data is certainly still relevant: it relates directly to the topic under discussion, i.e. gaming times on weekends. No problem.

Is her incomplete data correct? Does it reflect true facts? It certainly reflects the true facts of the people who had their data collected.

Most people would consider the incomplete data to be reasonable. If the missing data were somehow wildly unrepresentative (e.g. 'cherry picked' to include or exclude data that went against the experimenter's thesis) then it might be considered unreasonable. But we are not told why that data of two students was absent.

So - what do do? What's the least-worst choice?

Can we easily eliminate options?

B and D are clearly silly. Cross them out.

Accuracy is not really an issue. The data are precise, we assume.

That leaves C. And I would love to hear VCAA justify that choice.

Gotta give this a Schmackos Award. I hated this question.

Dog's Breakfast Award

My answer is a very reluctant C. The examiners say it was A.

Thános is a pretty common name... for Greek males. Not females. Or is a VCAA exam flying a rainbow flag?

Sad Dog Award

I'm a bit sad that 'Completeness' is not defined by VCAA as a criterion for data integrity.

The Harvard Business School defines data integrity as "the accuracy, completeness, and quality of data"

VCAA should, too.

70% of students agreed with the official answer.


Question 10

Which of the following criteria could be used to evaluate both the efficiency and the effectiveness of a dynamic data visualisation?

A. Does the data visualisation load quickly and is it accessible to users?
B. Does the data visualisation present accurate information and is it readable to the audience?
C. Is the information in the data visualisation complete and is the message communicated clearly?
D. Does the data visualisation take little effort for users to understand, and does it cost less to produce?

Answer is A.

Let's boil down the key points...

1. It's all about efficiency vs effectiveness. i.e. time, money and labour/effort requirements vs how well it does the job.

2. Let's colour code the criteria in each option. Green is efficiency. Blue is effectiveness. Apologies in advance to colourblind blokes with accessibility issues.

Accessibility = how well it caters to people with special needs. It does not refer to how easy the data is to find and download.

A Loads quickly (TIME) Accessibility
B Accurate info Readable
C Complete info Clear communication of message
D Takes little effort for users to understand (EFFORT) Cheap to produce (MONEY)

The only option with both efficiency (during production and/or end-use) and effectiveness criteria is A.

Bring a variety of highlighters to the exam.

38% of students agreed with the official answer. 31% went for D.

The response needs to involve both efficiency and effectiveness.
A. involves both efficiency and effectiveness
B. involves effectiveness only
C. involves effectiveness only
D. involves efficiency only.


Question 11

A team working on a project is having issues finding the correct versions of files that they should be working with, due to inconsistency about where the files have been stored.
What is an appropriate technique that the team could implement to resolve this issue?

A. Files are archived regularly.
B. A backup copy is made of current working files.
C. A file management plan is created and implemented.
D. Files are protected from unauthorised users, using two-factor authentication.

Answer is C.

This is an easy one.

A - archiving improves data security by making a copy of old data and deleting the original. It does not make files easier to find.

B - Backups are like archiving, except the original is not deleted.

C - A file management plan would include file naming schemes and rules about where files are stored. This is the only option that is relevant.

D - Again, this is security and does not make files easier to find and identify.

91% of students agreed with the official answer.


Question 12

A medical company is developing a dynamic data visualisation, analysing the impact of influenza vaccinations on the spread of influenza during the past three years. The company wants to compare trends in Australia and neighbouring Oceanic countries.

What functionality of the dynamic data visualisation software would best support the most efficient use of the data visualisation?

A. check boxes to select countries and years
B. live and continually updating data sources
C. all charts and information displayed on one interface
D. a dashboard for each country connected through navigational buttons and a menu

My answer is D - or A. It all depends on Oceania. The examiners said it was A.

Alarm bells should be sounding and red flags should be waving in your head when you see trigger words like "efficiency" in a question. PAY ATTENTION TO THEM! They will often rule out at least 50% of the options. Scan the options - ALL of the options. Keep EFFICIENCY in mind.

Be sure to read ALL of the options and don't just choose the first one that looks reasonable!

A. Check boxes are quick to choose between only 3 years. Not so sure about using checkboxes to select a neighbouring Oceanic country, though. How many checkboxes would be needed? I'm not a geography student. The examiners seem to believe I am. I'm confused now.

B. That would improve effectiveness, but would not make anything quicker, cheaper or easier. Cross.

C. Does this mean that all the data is visible at the same time on one screen? This could be efficient, because all of the data is visible.

D. Dashboard? Buttons and menus can aid efficiency, but... dashboard? What does it mean?

Option A is possibly appropriate, D is unclear to me, but it does refer to efficient controls.

I don't like this question at all. It is too vague, and unfairly assumes knowledge beyond the study design.

Dog's Breakfast Award

BTW - research shows there are about 14 countries in Oceania. That would be stretching the efficiency of checkboxes, making the menus in option D sound more feasible.

So, in the end, I probably would cross my fingers, curse under my breath, and opt for D.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad that VCAA refers to 'effort' rather than 'labour' in its definition of efficiency. It took years of my complaining to get 'ease of use' taken out of the definition of 'efficiency', but now it has been replaced by 'effort' which is nearly as bad.

The other efficiency factors (time and money) are clearly measurable and are unambiguously quantitative.

"Effort" is a subjective and hard-to-measure factor. e.g. it may take you a lot of effort to enjoy my bad jokes, but how do you meaure that? Use an Effortometer ™ to measure your kiloefforts (kEf)?

VCAA's effort meter

What the definition should say is labour, not effort. Labour can be measured in terms of people/hours. Effort is too opinionated to fit in with time and money. I hope VCAA fixes this in the next study design. Ha!

Only 30% of students agreed with the official answer. 39% chose D.

The question is looking for efficiency;
option A (a check box) is the best way to achieve this.
B is irrelevant as the data is not live.
C would be too busy and as a result inefficient, and
D would be hard to compare.


Question 13

Quinn has developed an online infographic to summarise the survey data and the findings of his research question.
What feature could he apply to text elements to communicate his results more effectively to the target audience?

A. Replace text with uniquely designed icons.
B. Provide a hyperlink to the complete data set.
C. Use more informal and familiar language to engage the audience.
D. Provide a hyperlink to a glossary of terms to explain acronyms.

Answer is D.

Key word again: effectively. Ignore all thought of time, money and effort factors. Scanning the options does not turn up any obvious efficiency criteria.

A. Replacing text is not 'applying a feature' to it.

B. Adding a hyperlink is relevant, and it would be useful. But the complete data set does not constitute his results. It's iffy.

C. Again, is not applying 'a feature' to text, as using bold, hyperlinks, or colour are.

D. Linking to a glossary is always fun for the whole family, and would communicate his results better because readers would understand the terms used.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad that the examiners used the word 'acronyms' in the question... particularly in a question related to explaining obscure terms.

VCE exams are supposedly tested for ESL acceptability, but I suspect 'acronym' would baffle many students - not just ESL.

And is just not necessary. "Abbreviations" would work just as well - if not better - because not all abbreviations are acronyms.

An acronym is an abbreviation made up of the initial letters of words that can be pronounced as a word, e.g. QANTAS, NASA, LOL, PIN, ASAP.

But SMS is an abbreviation but is not an acronym since it can't be pronounced as a word and must be spelled out.

Only 28% of students agreed with the official answer. 50% chose C.

A. could confuse the target audience.
B. users don’t need to see the complete data set.
C. language needs to be specific to the topic.


Question 14

Maria has a project focused on researching the impact of income and population on the life expectancy of people in a country. She wants to display the relationship between these three factors.
Which type of chart should Maria use to create an effective data visualisation?

A. a scatter chart
B. a bubble chart
C. a 3D bar chart
D. a stacked area chart

Answer is B.

The question is UNFAIR and INVALID. Probably illegal in some states.

I'm calling a foul on this one. Nowhere in the study design are these types of charts named, and therefore they should not be directly examinable.

All the study design specifies about data visualisation types in the glossary is "charts, histograms, graphs, maps, network diagrams and spatial relationships diagrams"

I'm not at all happy about this.

But, let's look at the unfair question fairly.

A. a scatter chart - can only show two scales (e.g. temp vs latitude). The question requires three variables.

B. a bubble chart - each 'bubble' corresponds to a data point — the bigger the bubble, the larger the value. The position of the bubble on the x- and y-axes mean it shows three variables, which fits the case study in the question.

In the example below, the axes could be income and population, and the size of the bubble could show life expectancy.

C. a 3D bar chart - can show four variables, which is more than this case needs

D. a stacked area chart - shows 2 variables (e.g. cost, time) just like a line graph, but the area under the line is subdivided into its constituent parts. It does not have a third variable.

2023-11-10 - I have written to to challenge this unfair question.

The moral of the story for students: if you are outraged by an invalid question, give any answer. If you don't give an answer at all, you won't get a mark if the question is invalidated after a challenge.

Only 32% of students agreed with the official answer.

A bubble chart could show a relationship between 3 factors; the other options can only be used to show a relationship between 2 factors.


Question 15

The security of data files stored on a LAN can be improved by
A. using SSL encryption.
B. implementing audit trails.
C. using virus protection software.
D. restricting access through user permissions.

Answer is D.

Wow, This is a blast from the past. SSL 3.0 was replaced by the more secure and efficient TLS 1.0 in 1999.

Yes, thrillseekers. The 2023 DA exam's cutting-edge technology question is only 24 years out of date. Laughbundles! (Yes. I just made up the term "laughbundles". It's cutting-edge, like VCAA.)

OK. But let's get back to it, shall we? This is serious.

Anyway - the key word in the question is "stored" - not "transmitted". Keep that in mind.

A. SSL (and the new-fangled TLS) encrypts data during transmission. It does not encrypt stored data. So, option A is irrelevant.

B. Audit trails track who accessed what data and when. It does not stop them accessing the data. It only helps to track them down after the event.

C. Antivirus software could be said to improve data security because it would protect against data loss or damage.

D. User permissions would certainly stop unauthorised 'bad actors' (e.g. Nicolas Cage) and bad singers (e.g. Britney Spears) from accessing data.

53% of students agreed with the official answer. 15% chose A and 19% chose D.


Question 16

As a member of the student representative council (SRC), Roberto was asked to survey the student body about their attitudes to the school’s sports uniforms and if any changes need to be made to the uniforms The results of the survey will be presented to the principal as a dynamic data visualisation at the next SRC meeting.
Roberto has finished his dynamic data visualisation and he would like to get student feedback on whether it meets the needs of the student body.
Which method would be the most efficient way for Roberto to seek feedback about his dynamic data visualisation?

A. Interview users about the dynamic data visualisation.
B. Observe how users interact with the dynamic data visualisation.
C. Provide an email link to an online survey with open-ended questions about the solution.
D. Send all students an email including an online survey that uses Likert scale questions.

Answer is D .

Keyword: 'efficient'. Recognising that automatically prunes your options.

A. Interviewing is slow and expensive. NOT efficient.

B. Observing users may be effective, but is also inefficient.

C. Including a link is efficient (quick and easy) for Roberto, but processing the long text responses would not be efficient for him.

D. Sending bulk emails is also efficient (assuming he uses a mailing list and does not send each email separately). An online survey using Likert Scales asks for a response from a limited choice of options.

We've ruled out options A and B easily.

Option C - provides long text answers that would provide valuable feedback and would be effective (i.e. doing what Roberto wanted to achieve) but this is not relevant to the question. It is efficient for him to send the requests via a link, but inefficient (although effective) for him to to process the wordy text responses.

Option D - is also efficient for Roberto (assuming he is using a mailing list) and the responses are categorised into easy-to-process answers without long and complex explanations. It is efficient for Roberto to send the requests, and efficient for him to to process the responses, but the responses won't contain any explanations or details, so they're less effective.

So - drumroll - the answer must be D.

56% of students agreed with the official answer. 25% chose C.


Option C refers to sending a link. Option B refers to sending emails. This worries me.
Is VCAA thinking, "Sending one link to everyone is easy, but sending emails must be done individually for each recipient so that is hard" ?

Is VCAA working in the internet stone age that did not have mailing lists? (Clue: see the SSL question above).

I will be waiting with bated breath to see how the examiners justify their answer. (They didn't explain it.)

Yes - it's "bated", not "baited". It's like "strait jacket" not "straight jacket". Look it up.

This is a typical section A question in that takes a mere second to write the answer, but relies on you spending time (averaging 1.2 minutes) to evaluate the complexities of the precise wordings of the question and the options.

Sometimes the complexities are justified and challenging - but they are also too often caused by BADLY-WRITTEN QUESTIONS.


Question 17

Which of the following is most commonly included in a disaster recovery plan?

A. ethical issues
B. a security plan
C. a strategic plan
D. evacuation procedures

Answer is D.

A DRP focuses on what to do after the fæces hits the fan and it's time to start wiping down the smelly walls. The disaster has happened. Now is the time to recover from it.

A. Is irrelevant. Unless you're vegan. "The building is on fire! Quick! Rescue the broccoli!"

B. A good security plan would help prevent disaster, but would it help you recover from disaster? Probably not.

C. A strategy is a specific, concrete method to achieve a specific, measurable outcome. A strategic plan would probably be what one needs to recover from disaster.

D. Knowing how to get the hell out of a burning building would probably be Step #1 of recovering from the disaster.

According to (yes - websites are that specific these days), "The objective of a disaster recovery plan is to ensure that you can respond to a disaster or other emergency that affects information systems and minimize the effect on the operation of the business."

Evacuating the building certainly seems to be a sensible response.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad because...

Who knows what is "most commonly included" in all of the world's DRPs?

Has anyone ever done a comprehensive study of DRPs to find this out?

My DRP says, "Grab the NAS and run! Oh, and find the cat. And call the fire brigade, maybe."

The question should have asked, "Which of the following must be / should be included in a disaster recovery plan?"

Not a good question.

63% of students agreed with the official answer.


Question 18

There was a lightning strike to the building containing a company’s network servers, which caused all data to be lost.
This is an example of

A. a cyber threat.
B. a deliberate threat.
C. an accidental threat.
D. an event-based threat.

Answer is D.

A. not even hackers can (yet) summon lightning.

B. does your God hate you? (Tell me why)

C. who caused the accidental lightning? Nope.

D. lightning is an event, and it was a threat. That'll do, pig. That'll do,

To get boring: natural disasters are event-based threats. \

92% of students agreed with the official answer. No one chose A!


Question 19

Which of the following could result from a lack of information security strategies for an organisation?

A. easier retrieval of information
B. financial loss and legal consequences
C. advantage for the organisation over other companies
D. operational disruptions and an increase in customer satisfaction

Answer is B.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad because this question is so dumb. Did the work experience boy write it?

"Hey, kid! Fetch me a coffee and write question 19 of the Data Analytics exam, OK? Two sugars!"

My cat could've answered it - and he's been dead for ten years.

It doesn't even deserve the courtesy of an explanation.

It's bizarre how this inane question got through multiple editors and testers.

(Shakes head, and wanders away)

90% of students agreed with the official answer.


Question 20

Physical security controls for preventing unauthorised access to data include

A. biometric locks.
B. patching systems.
C. segmenting networks.
D. enforcing least privilege access.

Answer is A.

Sad Dog Award

"Thanks for the coffee, kid. By the way. Our regular Question 20 Writer is not here today: apparently his cat died ten years ago, or something. Anyway, can you knock together something to finish up Section A? Great. Doesn't have to be clever or anything. Any old rubbish will do. Maybe something that even the worst student can be happy about because they got at least one question right. Hey - where's my doughnut?"

Note - "least privilege access" exists, but is not in the study design.

I'm concerned about how lackadaisical the exam is when using undefined and unexaminable technical terms.

90% of students agreed with the official answer.

Overall for section A

The use of terms and concepts that are not in the study design is concerning.

Some questions were vague, others were ridiculously easy.

It was not an impressive Section A.

In only 14 out of 20 questions did 50% or more students choose the official answer.

The average number of students choosing the official answers was 63%. It says something either about the quality of the questions, or the quality of the students - and I know what option I prefer.

SECTION B - short answer questions

Instructions for Section B
Answer all questions in the spaces provided.

[x lines] indicates the number of ruled lines provided on the paper for the answers.


Question 1 (4 marks) [55% of the page provided for the answer]

DelvrStuff is a new app that allows people to pay for and receive delivery of furniture between sellers and buyers for a small cost.
DelvrStuff allows the sellers to list items of furniture they want to sell, and it requires them to register their name, email address and their mobile phone number to become a seller.
DelvrStuff lets buyers look for items of furniture, by searching the items’ names, their descriptions or their sale prices. Once a buyer has found an item, they can buy it and select the date for delivery. The app then provides the buyer with the set delivery fee amount, the total cost for the transaction, and the date it was bought. The buyer must register to use DelvrStuff by providing their name and delivery address details, including street address, suburb and state.
Draw a normalised design, to third normal form (3NF), to represent the database structure for this app.

Wow. That's a lot of work for 4 marks!

1. Identify the necesary TABLES.

2. Read the question carefully to find the relevant FIELDS.

3. Add the RELATIONSHIP arrows. It would be wise to add the "1" and "many" () labels to the ends of the arrows. (I'm not sure how fussy the exam markers were told to be about them. Markers - please anonymously let me know).

4. Use common sense: always start any database table with an ID field. IT COMPLETELY AVOIDS any possibility of a 2NF failure. I'm perpetually infuriated by exams that test for 2NF failures.

It's like testing children with, "You are covered with petrol. Do you light the match or not?"

The obvious answer is DON'T COVER YOURSELF WITH PETROL IN THE FIRST PLACE! Creating a unique ID in each table eradicates 2NF problems BEFORE THEY CAN EXIST.

OK. Sorry for shouting. I had a lie down. I feel better now.

Note how I included a TransactionID field even though it is never used? It's instinct. Make a table - make an ID field. In that order.

5. Feel satisfied that you brought your wide selection of coloured highlighters. Use them freely. Enjoy their power. You will need them for a 'modified Gantt chart' question. And don't get me started on Gantt revision questions in exams, I would need another urgent lie down. I hate them SO much. Gantt charts are done with software. They are not annotated by hand, on paper as in stupid VCAA exam questions. Arghhh! It's so... arghhh!

OK. Where were we?

6. Don't be embarrassed to cross out mis-steps (e.g. DeliveryAddress). Just make it clear that you reaslised realised your slip and have fixed it.

The markers will give you a mighty nod and thumbs-up as they recognise that you saw that something needed to be fixed.

Pretending to be perfect fools no one but yourself.

Your sole aim in the exam is to demonstrate your understanding of the key knowledge and key skills. That is all.

7. If you're nervous about creating a database schema (as you should be - it's not a trivial task), sketch out a draft answer on the back page of the exam book. When it looks right, do a proper copy in the provided space after the question. You are not assessed on any preliminary sketches. In fact you'd be mad not to make them. I certainly would sketch it out first.

8. I added a snide remark about the lack of a postcode field in the BUYERS table. This would not earn you bonus marks in a real exam answer. Save your commentary for your online exam post-mortems.

9. When you have finished, READ THE QUESTION AGAIN. Compare it with your answer as if someone (a complete moron) had written it. Actively look for stupid errors and omissions. You can only find your own errors when you assume that they were written by your most stupid worst enemy.

The same applies to proof-reading any of your work throughout your lifetime. Write like you're a majestic queen; but proof-read your writing as if you're your own worst enemy. It's amazing how stupid you can find yourself to be.

As evidence, I just re-read my answer above and found and fixed four - five - six typos. Thank you, Idiot Mark.

Yor welkum.

If your handwriting looks like an epileptic chook ran across the page with a pen in its beak (as mine does), P-R-I-N-T your answers so the marker can at least stand a chance of reading them. If your answer is illegible, you can't get marks.

Students were required to normalise the design into third normal form. Marks were awarded for.

  • reasonable table names (must be four)
  • all fields listed correctly in tables; no mark given if ‘Total Cost’ is listed in the transaction table
  • all primary keys provided in each table drawn; this could be in the form of PK [primary key], * or solid underline
  • all foreign keys provided in tables drawn; this could be in the form of FK [foreign key] or a dotted underline.

Students did not have to show the relationships between each table to gain marks. The following is a possible answer

0.6 / 4 = 15%

A dreadful state performance!


Question 2 (6 marks)

An organisation that promotes healthy eating feels that there is not enough knowledge about the health issues of elderly people related to poor diet and digestion. After collecting and analysing data, the organisation has decided to develop an infographic aimed at educating the elderly about digestive health.

a. Outline a technique the organisation could use to generate design ideas for the infographic. 1 mark [3 lines]

The study design is not very helpful when it comes to giving examples of  techniques to generate design ideas.

It refers to "annotations to indicate key functions and appearance", and "text and diagrams". 

So, I would probably answer:

Produce mockups to show how the infographic would look.

I don't know whether other techniques would be relevant, such as

- Brainstorming - get people together to throw around creative ideas without criticism or editing.


The key verb in the question is "outline". That means a brief overview.

The fact that it's only worth 1 mark reinforces the hint that you should only spend about 1.2 minutes on your answer.

The number of lines provided on the exam paper also gives you a clue about how much detail to include.

As always, don't waste time repeating the answer. Do not say, "A technique the organisation could use to generate design ideas for the infographic is..."

Start your answer after the word "is"

Students were required to outline a technique the organisation could use to generate design ideas for the infographic. The most common responses that gained a mark were:
• brainstorming
• mind maps
• PMI chart
• researching other infographics.

0.5 / 1 = 50%

b. The organisation will need to consider design principles when designing the infographic. Identify and describe one design principle related to appearance that is appropriate for the target audience. 2 marks [5 lines]

The study design sayeth:

Design principles are accepted characteristics that contribute to the functionality, usability and appearance of solutions.

In this study the principles related to usability include ease of use, flexibility and robustness, and accessibility, including navigation and error tolerance.

Design principles related to appearance are alignment, balance, contrast, image use, space, and text and table formatting.

Key words in the question: Identify and describe one design principle related to appearance that is appropriate for the target audience.

Let's unpack that.

  • ONE design principle

Not two design principles. Definitely not three. ONE. Providing more than one is a waste of time and ink. If you can think of three relevant answers, you must use your judgement to settle on the best one you can come up with. And good judgement is all-important in exams and life in general. I have none, so I know.

  • related to APPEARANCE

It must relate to APPEARANCE, not USABILITY. If you mess that up, your brilliant answer may be 100% irrelevant.

  • appropriate for the target audience

The target audience is elderly. What features of the solution specifically apply to them? Don't give an answer that perfectly suits five-year-old left-handed Italians.

So, you could argue...

Alignment - does left/centred/right justified text or images particularly apply to elderly people? Hardly. Skip that.

Balance - this refers to having a roughly-equal amount of material on the left and right, top and bottom of the page/screen. So, a big picture may be placed on the left and a lot of text may be put on the right to balance it. For example...

Digital mockups often use fake / dummy text that can be pasted in mere seconds and not to distract the viewer from the appearance of the mockup. Typically, the fake text is called 'Lorem Ipsum' consisting of meaningless words adapted from Latin:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Is balance particularly relevant to elderly people? They sometimes have balance issues, such as tripping over the cat, but balance is not especially important in their infographics.

Contrast - Here we go. This is getting juicier. Elderly people's eyes gradually go wonky, especially when reading. Poor contrast - the difference between text and background colours - makes reading even more difficult. This option is a possibility. This option looks good!

Image use - Infographics are essentially graphic. The use of graphics is mandatory. Graphics are not especially included for old farts.

Space - separates nearby items on the printed page or on screen. Space between items makes them more distinct.

Margins on the edges of a page or screen are important.

(See what I did with these lines? They stand out.)

Space between paragraphs makes it clear that one topic is changing into a new topic.

The space between lines (called "leading", pronounced "ledding) " makes text easier to read. Cramming text next to images (or text next to borders) is ugly and hampers readability. But it's not especially relevant to ancient wrinkled readers.

Text and table formatting - Umm. You could argue that text formatting is pretty relevant to boomers. Text that is too small is hard for them to read. And we have covered contrast already.

Serif fonts

are bit easier to read than sans serif fonts ('sans' is French for 'without')

e.g. Arial, as opposed to Times New Roman

because of the distinctive strokes at the end of their lines, especially for characters like a capital I, and a lowercase L".

Some people say that serif fonts are better printed, and sans serif fonts are better onscreen. Let the debate rage.

But - which to choose for your answer to the exam question? I would opt for contrast.

Contrast: Elderly readers would likely have trouble reading text that is too similar to its background colour. Using contrasting colours for text and background would make the text more readable.

You could even break out your highlighters again to demonstrate your point.

This is good contrast
This is not good contrast

(In case you can't read it, the line above says "This is not good contrast" - which sort of proves my point)

Two alternative design ideas have been created for the infographic.

One criterion for evaluating the alternative designs is stated below:
• The infographic should be able to communicate the intended message to the target audience.

To gain full marks, students were required to identify and describe a design principle that was appropriate for the target audience. Acceptable design principles that related to appearance were: alignment, balance, contrast, image use, space, and text and table formatting.

The following is a possible answer.

"The organisation must ensure infographic uses the design principle of contrast. This ensures the elderly population are able to read provided information without difficulty, since infographic elements contrast the background."

1.1 / 2 = 55%

c. Based on the criterion above, justify which design idea, A or B, would be more appropriate. 3 marks [9 lines]

I choose A.

It has 6 images, compared with B's 2, and the value of infographics is based on their use of imagery to convey information quickly and clearly.

B contains too much text to be quickly and easily absorbed, and the text is much smaller in size than option A, making it harder for elderly people (the target audience) to read..

When a question asks you to "justify", it wants you to give good reasons to support your opinion.

Students were required to justify which design idea would be more appropriate. Only Design A was accepted; students did not gain any marks if they suggested Design B.
To gain full marks, students needed to select Design A, state a reason why it should be chosen and then state a reason why Design B would not be appropriate.
Common responses for choosing Design A were large text and more images; common responses for not choosing Design B were small text and small graphs.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
Design A is more appropriate because it contains a large font size which ensures elderly people who have poor vision to easily read and thus understand the intended message. Design B is not appropriate because it contains many large blocks of text with small font sizes which makes it harder to read and interpret its message for elderly people who may have vision problems.

1.9 / 3 = 63%


Question 3 (4 marks)

Caleb has completed his dynamic data visualisation on greenhouse gas emissions. He needs to test his visualisation for navigation and error tolerance of the interface.

a. Explain the difference between navigation and error tolerance. 2 marks [5 lines]

How are they not different? They have nothing in common. It's a strange question, along the lines of "Explain the difference between sheep and fire hydrants."

And does it mean the difference between their definitions, or their testing?

Navigation refers to the ability of the user to move between different parts of the solution using, for example, hyperlinks, buttons, menus.

Error tolerance is the ability of software or solutions to anticipate and deal with user errors or invalid inputs without crashing or losing data.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad that this question makes little to no logical sense.

To gain full marks, students needed to explain the difference between navigation and error tolerance.
While many students could describe what navigation was, most struggled with error tolerance. Navigation refers to the ease with which a user can move through the interface of a data analytics tool to access the features and functions they need. This includes things like the layout of the interface, the placement of menus and buttons, and the organisation of data and analysis results.
Error tolerance refers to the ability of a data analytics tool to handle mistakes made by the user. This includes things like providing helpful error messages, allowing users to undo or redo actions, and preventing users from making errors in the first place.
Error tolerance is not the errors presented in the data visualisation nor the ability to function despite errors. Students who mentioned these were not awarded the mark.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
Navigation is the ability to manoeuver from one area of the dynamic data visualisation to another. Error tolerance however is related to how the visualisation manages errors, this tolerance is evident when it displays warning messages instead of shutting down completely.

0.7 / 2 = 35%

b. Provide one suitable technique for testing navigation.1 mark. [3 lines]

Click on a link / menu item / button and see whether you're taken to the selected part of the solution.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad that this question is so basic.

Students who gained a mark for this question had a response along the lines of: ‘Click on each of the navigation buttons and check that it opens to the correct new dashboard/page’ or ‘Click on the links and see if they work as expected’.

0.2 / 1 = 20%

c. Provide one suitable technique for testing error tolerance. 1 mark. [3 lines]

Deliberately enter invalid data (e.g. text instead of numerals, or failing to enter required data) and see if the solution satisfactorily detects and responds appropriately to the bad input.

Sad Dog Award

I'm still sad, for the same reason.

I'm convinced there is a basement at VCAA HQ with a team of people dedicated to coming up with weird multicultural names for case study characters.

When was the last time you saw a "Bob" or "Alice" in a case study?

Note that if a question asks for one thing (e.g. 'one suitable technique') you get no bonus marks for giving two or more.

You just waste your time trying to either show off, or (more likely) demonstrating your inability to understand the question and create a relevant response.

Your first answer will probably be the one assessed by the marker, so sit down and think for five seconds about which of your two (or more) possible answers best answers the question..

Remember - an exam is not a writing contest. It's a thinking contest.

Students who gained a mark for this question had the following responses:
• Enter incorrect information and see how it reacts; error message appears.
• Move the cursor over a point of question and check that the tip is useful and assists the user. • Move the cursor over options and check they cannot be selected.
• Click on the back/home icon to return to the home page.
A large number of students did not understand what error tolerance was and therefore could not answer the question correctly.

0.2 / 1 = 20% (86% of students got no mark at all)


Question 4 (6 marks)

Marina and Parth run an online business that allows people to buy and sell old sneakers and clothes. The data from their business is stored in a database that is hosted on a server in their office. A full backup of their business data is performed at the start of each month, and a differential backup is performed each week on Friday night. All backups are stored on an external hard disk drive (HDD) located in the office. The backups are regularly tested, and all backups are created successfully.

a. If the server had a hard drive failure, what is the maximum number of days of data that will be lost if the database needs to be restored from backup? Explain your answer. 2 marks [4 lines]

The last full backup would restore data to its state at the start of the current month.

The weekly differential backups would include data added or changed in each of the past weeks.

The worst case would be a failure on a Friday afternoon, before the differential backup on Friday night.

That would lose all new data after the previous Friday night backup, which is nearly SEVEN full days.

But, seriously folks. Second-hand shoes and clothes? Who cares about data like that? I doubt their business would last a full month, so backups would be a waste of time. Anyways...

Students were required to work out the maximum number of days that data would be lost, if the data were to be recovered from a differential backup.
As the differential backup occurred once a week on Friday night, there is the possibility that one whole week’s data will be lost if a disaster occurred on Friday night just prior to the backup being created. Therefore, seven days’ worth of data could be lost. One mark was awarded for stating seven days and one mark for an explanation of what a differential backup is.
A large number of students seem to have confused an incremental backup with a differential backup and therefore did not obtain full marks.
An incremental backup only copies modified data since the last backup. For example, if you took a full backup on Friday, your incremental backup on Saturday would only copy changes since the Friday backup. On Sunday, it would only copy changes to the backup image file since the Saturday backup.
A differential backup strategy copies only newly added and changed data since the last full backup. If your last full backup was on Friday, a backup on Saturday would copy all changes since Friday. If you took another backup on Tuesday, it would also copy all changes from Friday. The backup file size would increase progressively until the next full backup.

1 / 2 = 50%

b. Suggest and justify two changes to the backing up strategy to improve data protection and the ability to recover from a disaster. 4 marks [7 lines]

1. Continuous, automatic backups to the cloud. Every data change would be stored offsite immediately, and would be protected against local disasters or failures. This is by far the best option.

2. Weekly full backups and daily incremental backups. Data that has been created or changed since the last full backup is saved daily. So the backups are small and fast and would only lose one day's data in a worst-case scenario.

"Marina and Parth" - groan. Even the multicultural naming people in the VCAA basement must be getting sick of this desperate inclusivity by now.

Again - only give TWO changes. Not 1. Not 3. Five is right out.

It's like the Holy Hand Grenade.

Students were asked to suggest and justify two changes to the backing up strategy to improve data protection and the ability to recover from a disaster.
The majority of students were able to suggest at least one change to the backing up strategy.
Marks were awarded for identifying an improvement in the categories of:
• types of backups
• location of backups
• media used for backups
• frequency of backups.
To obtain full marks, answers needed to compare current vs suggested for two categories; responses needed to be from different categories, not from the same category.
The following are examples of high-scoring responses.
Example 1
Instead of storing the backups at on-site locations through HDD’s, store backups through cloud storage to ensure that the data backed up is located off-site and is not susceptible to local threats (e.g. Fire at business)
Example 2
Instead of conducting a weekly differential backup and a monthly full backup, conduct a weekly full back up and a daily incremental backup to ensure that in the event of threats such as a hard drive failure, data loss is minimised compared to the previous strategy.

Average mark was 2.6 / 4 = 65%



Section B Summary

The average mark for sutdents in section B was 41%.

It demands the question of why. Were students, teachers or examiners failing?


Section C - Case study

A large Australian multinational company, Grains4Food produces wheat, barley, oats and other grains. Grains4Food have offices throughout Australia and have decided that they need to build a new grain processing facility to support their three farm regions, region 1, region 2 and region 3. They believe this will help them add value to their products and improve their profits.

Ali leads data analytics at the company and has been given the task of developing a dynamic data visualisation by Sara, the CEO of the company. This dynamic data visualisation will be used by Sara and the Board of Directors of Grains4Food to help determine the best location for the new grain processing facility.

Sara has employed two full-time staff to join the team for the project, which needs to be completed by 8 December. Sara, along with the Board, needs to easily use and review the dynamic data visualisation to help determine the feasibility of the grain processing facility proposal. Ali has been asked to present the dynamic data visualisation so that it can be viewed through a browser, and not through a data visualisation application.

Ali will need to make sure that the dynamic data visualisation represents information for each region and covers factors such as population, climate and grain production for each of the three regions for the past five years. Sara has decided that wheat will be the only grain that will be processed at the new facility.

Ali’s team have decided on the tasks that need to be completed to make sure that they can present the dynamic data visualisation to the Board on 8 December. The team do not work on weekends. However, team members can work on different tasks at the same time. Part of the team will work with primary data and the rest of the team will work with secondary data. The tasks, durations and dependencies that have been decided are shown in Table 1. The project must begin on 13 November and the handover to the design team must be completed by 28 November.

Ali has requested data from the Grains4Food farm management unit as an initial starting point for his team’s research. He has been sent seven years of data from all five regions of different grain production throughout Australia.

Ali has also downloaded rainfall data from the weather bureau website for each of the regions for a period of 10 years to use in the dynamic data visualisation. Table 2 lists a sample of the data for Region 3 from this data set.


Instructions for Section C

Please remove the insert from the centre of this book during reading time.

Use the case study provided in the insert to answer the questions in this section. Answers must apply to the case study.

Answer all questions in the spaces provided.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad because the exam says, "Ali’s team have decided"

A team is singular. It should be "Ali’s team has decided".

Come on, VCAA. Please get it right.


Question 1 (4 marks)

a. Identify two items that should be included in the scope for the project. 2 marks [one line each]

When asked to ''identify", just give a name. Don't describe, give examples, or justify your answer.

Hmmm. Play some thinking music here (from Dvorak's Othello concerto overture, Opus 93)

We must assume 'the project' refers to the data visualisation (DV) and not the grain processing facility. It would have belped if the examiners had been a little more specific, but Common Sense ™ comes to rescue in times of doubt. Overthinking things can sometimes make matters worse.

  • The study design says that a solution's scope will 'describe the boundaries or parameters of the solution (and) identify what will be and/or what will not be addressed by the solution.' (page 14)
  • So, does scope refer to what tasks the solution should be expected to do? That sounds a lot like 'functional requirements'', but the study design says for DA unit 3, students need to be able to determine "solution requirements, constraints and scope"... so, (functional/non-functional) requirements are not the same as scope.
  • So, scope must refer to the expected limits of the area of expertise of the solution, e.g. toasters grill bread products. They shouldn't be expected to produce weather forecasts. That is their scope.

So - two items that belong in the DV's scope?

Determine the best location of the new grain processing facility? No. That's the scope of the the human viewers of the DV. The DV itself is not expected to be able to achieve that.

  • Help determine the best location of the new grain processing facility?
  • Represent information on climate, population, and wheat production?

That was not at all easy for two rotten marks. And I'm still not sure I'm right. I might need to revisit this.

Students were asked to identify two items from the case study that should be included in the scope of the project. Items that gained marks were:
• five years of data
• three (each) regions
• only wheat production data.

State average was 0.5 / 2 (25%)

b. Identify two constraints that Ali and his team will have to consider when developing their dynamic data visualisation. 2 marks [one line each]

Aha! If you were in doubt about what the previous question wanted you to talk about, this question helpfully guides you.

If you were tempted in question C1 to say that the scope included the ability of the DV to be viewed in a browser, this question should make you realise that the browser issue is, in fact, a constraint = a restriction on your free will when solving the problem.

ALWAYS read the full paper before starting any section of it. You can sometimes receive help on questions from later questions.

Two constraints

1. It must be easy for the board to use and review..

2. It must be completed by 8 December.

Or - it must must be viewable through a web browser.

Students were asked to identify two constraints that would need to be considered when developing a dynamic data visualisation. Constraints that gained marks were:
• project has to be completed by December 8 (economic/time); must mention date not time
• budget to employ two full-time staff for the duration of the project (economic/budget)
• easy to use and review (usability)
• viewed through a browser and not through a data visualisation application (technical).
Students were not required to list the type of constraint, e.g. economic, to gain full marks.
Responses that mentioned a legal constraint were not awarded a mark.

State average was 0.6 / 2 (30%)


Question 2 (7 marks)

a. Ali’s team have identified 10 tasks to be completed as part of the project.
Use the data provided in Table 1 in the case study insert and complete the Gantt chart for the project, showing all task durations, dependencies and milestones. 4 marks

IMHO, this question is bad.

Under exam conditions (and indeed in the comfort of my office with all the time and wine in the world) this is what I would have answered.:

You can see how it doesn't makes sense.

Let's step through it.

I use highlighters for hand-drawn Gantt charts. You really should take a set of highlighters to your exam.
They make Gantt charts a doddle to colour in, and they are REALLY handy for highlighting key terms in questions that you can't afford to forget.
That's why I highlighted (in green) the days that cannot be counted as workdays. It's not official Gantt practice, but it's very helpful in exams.

Of course, in The Real World ™ no one creates Gantt charts on paper, let alone annotates them with a pen. It only happens in Exam World.

VCAA: please stop pretending that real humans in the real world do this. By all means ask students to create a Gantt chart by hand, but do not expect unrealistic hand-drawn corrections. It just does not happen.

OK. Let's begin.

Task 1. Five days, no dependencies. Colour in from the 13th to the 17th - five days. Easy. And colouring-in is still fun when you're 16 or 66.

Task 2 - One day, dependent on Task 1. So it must start one working day after task 1 - the 20th.
It cannot start on Saturday 18th because that's not a working day. The case study's rules say so.
Colour in Monday 20th.
Add the dependency arrow from the end of task 1 to the top of task 2.
Sweet. We're doing well, and the colour scheme is so pretty.

Task 3 - One day long, dependent on task 2 finishing first. Basically the same as we did for task 2. We're doing well.

Task 4 - And this is where the wheels start to fall off.

Five days' duration, dependent on task 3.
We colour this in - from Wed 22nd for five working days. We skip the weekend of the 25th and 26th, as the rules say we must.
So, task 4 ends on Tue 28th.

You might be thinking, "Something is going wrong here... there are six tasks to go, and we're already on the last day allowed for the project? What the...?"

Grit your teeth and forge ahead regardless.

Task 5 - What?? A one-day task dependent on task 4?
That means it must start on the 29th, which is outside of the parameters of the project.
It can't be drawn in without going outside of the chart provided.
So, I coloured in the margin of the paper. Best I could do.

Task 6 - Is just impossible.
It's a milestone event (zero duration, no work needed for it), but it's dependent on task 5.
That takes us well off the paper provided in the exam book.
It cannot be represented. This is a disaster.

"OK," you say to yourself. "This is a mess, but I'll do what I can. Let's go on."

Task 7 - Some relief here. No dependencies, so it can start back on the 13th, goes for 5 days. Easy.

Task 8 - Two days long, dependent on task 7.
We must skip over the weekend, so it goes from the 20th to the 21st.
Add the cute dependency arrow from task 7 to this task.

Task 9 - A milestone that occurs after task 8 has finished.
Fill it in with the traditional diamond milestone marker on the 22nd and add the dependency arrow.

Task 10 - This is impossible.
It's another milestone.
It's dependent on task 9 (which is easy), but it's also dependent on task 6, which has already shown itself to be impossible.
It cannot be represented.

I assumed that the team would be monitoring the survey's inputs, so team labour would have been involved.

I asked an experienced VCE IT teacher to do a sanity check on my original answer, and she agreed with my logic.

So, I lodged a formal complaint to the examination board.

They actually wrote back, saying " Task 4 is an online survey available to communities. As it is not a task to be completed by the team, it can be completed by the online community over the weekend of Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 November.
This enables the project to be completed in the space provided on page 14.

So, this is probably what the examiners were expecting students to think out and produce - in about 4.8 minutes

The case study did not make it obvious that the team did not provide labour during task 4. It just said, "Online survey available to communities", and students were forced to assume that - unlike every other task in the case study - this task's timeline could span the weekend.

Such an assumption by VCAA, in my opinion, was subtle, unfair and unwarranted - especially in exam conditions when students were short on time to ruminate about such delicate nuances of wording.

Sad Dog Award

I suspect that many students treated task 4 like all of the other tasks and did the right thing by skipping the weekend.

I also suspect that the examiners' report will show that the average mark for this question will be slightly above zero unless they tweak the marking rules.

It was a bad, tricksy question, and I feel like a labrador playing fetch and his master does the hilarious 'pretending to throw the ball and laughing at the confused dog' routine.

To be fair, the case study should have clearly and explicitly declared that no labour from the team was needed during task 4.

Dog's Breakfast AwardDog's Breakfast Award

I hereby administer a Double Schmacko Award of Shame.

Highlighters are great at colouring in Gantt charts, but they leave an indelible mark. And since you are not allowed to have White Out / Liquid paper in exams...

(Why, VCAA? Tell me why. Were you bullied by a bottle of Liquid Paper in primary school?)

... it would be wise to plan your Gantt chart with a faint pencil first.

When it looks right, you can go to town with the highlighters.

Students were asked to complete a Gantt chart for the project showing all task durations, dependencies and milestones.
One mark was awarded for each of the following:
• each path of task durations correct avoiding weekends, except for Task 4
• Task 4 using weekend
• three milestones after Tasks 5 and 8 and at the end of the project (must be on the border line)
• showing dependencies – must be from back of task to front of next task and go through milestone.
A large number of students did not correctly draw the dependencies or the milestones and this resulted in them not being awarded a mark for that task. Students needed to start at the end of the last task and go to the start of the next task and through the milestone when drawing the dependencies. Marks were not awarded if the line for the dependencies either started or finished in the middle of the task. Milestones needed to be on the line (start of the day that the milestone relates to).

Note: Task 7 can start anytime from November 13 as long as Task 8 is completed by November 27. Tasks 7 and 8 cannot be held over the weekend.

State average was 1.1 / 4 (28%)


b. List the tasks that are not included on the critical path. 1 mark. [1 line]


That is all you need to say. (It helps you claw back the time you wasted trying to sort out C2a.)

But here's the long story.

The critical path is the sequence of tasks from the start to the end of the project that cannot have their durations changed without affecting the end date of the project.

The length of the critical path is the shortest possible amount of time needed to finish all tasks.

It is also, somewhat oddly, the longest time required to finish all tasks.

Any task that can have its duration changed without affecting the end date of the project is not on the critical path.

So, in this case, the critical path would be tasks:

Milestones are not counted as tasks because they are events - they just happen with no labour required.

Task 7 could, in theory, blow out 14 more days before it affected the end date of the project.

Task 8 could go 5 working days past its planned deadline before it messed with the ending date. This amount of potential 'overtime' for a task is called slack.

No task on the critical path can, by definition, have any slack.

Students were asked to list the tasks not included in the critical path. Responses that obtained the mark were Tasks 7 and 8. These two tasks can be delayed or take longer to complete and will not affect the end dates of the project. Task 9 was also accepted. Although it is a milestone, it is listed as a task and therefore could be included.

State average was 0.4 / 1 = 40%


c. Explain why these tasks are not included on the critical path. 2 marks [4 lines]

They both had slack. i.e. they could have run overtime without affecting the end date of the project.

That should do it.

Be wary of using jargon in your answers without making it very clear to the marker that you know what the jargon means.

Simply saying, "They have slack" may be the sign that you have memorised a definition without the slightest inkling of what it means.

You are being assessed on demonstrated understanding of the subject matter. You are not being marked on how well you can recite memorised definitions.

Students were asked to explain why the tasks from Question 2a. were not included.
One mark was awarded for stating that the tasks can be delayed or take longer to complete and one mark was awarded for stating that the tasks will not affect the end date of the project. Students who mentioned slack time in the correct phrase were awarded a mark.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
These tasks do not contribute to the longest path without any slack time. Both 7 and 8 can be delayed without impacting the final collation date.

State average was 0.6 / 2 = 30%


Question 3 (7 marks)

The team will create an online community survey that will be open for five days. The survey data will be collected once the ‘Submit’ button is pressed. The survey will collect the following data.

  • name
  • email
  • region
  • whether the person is a farmer or community member
  • what types of grain they produce — wheat, barley, oats or not applicable
  • comments on the possibility of a new grain production facility in their region
  • whether they would like to be contacted about this survey.

On the grid below, create a design of a form for the survey that can be viewed as an input form, with appropriate form elements labelled to support efficient and effective collection of data.

This is not as easy as it used to be in the good old days before smartphones. All designs before the advent of smartphones were clearly meant to suit computer monitors which were wider than they were tall (and still are). That is landscape orientation.

Horizontal orientation

But phones and tablets tend to be used in portrait mode so their displays are usually taller than they are wide.

Vertical orientation

But not always. Phone displays can usually (but not always, depending on your settings) be rotated, and the display can adjust itself to the new orientation

The question does not say what sort of device on which the form will be viewed and used. So - should you design a landscape or portrait oriented input form? Or both?

So you read the case study again... but it does not give a clue. Its grid is neither horizontal nor vertical: it's square, with a ratio of 1 to 0.99.

Like NO display device ever created by man, woman, or goat...

So. What to do?

Unless you're very brave, use pencils for this type of question. Ink is really hard to rub out when you screw the pooch. Also, you will need a variety of pencil colours, for design reasons.

Remember the hint in the instructions: "The survey data will be collected once the ‘Submit’ button is pressed" - so, for dog's sake, don't forget to include a SUBMIT button in your design!

Let's take things one at a time. Let's consider what sort of controls to use for data entry. They need to be efficient and effective.

  • Name - must be a text box. A drop-down list is really not going to work.
  • Email - again, text.
  • Region - Hmmm. Is there a limited list of acceptable regions? Check the case study again (and do it whenever in doubt). Yep - three regions, cunningly named 1, 2 and 3. It is always best to minimise the chance of invalid data entry by restricting the available options.
    • Text entry would be unwise - people could enter "3", "three", "my region" etc. So, a text box is not good.
    • A drop-down list is possible, but for only 3 options it's probably overkill.
    • Checkboxes won't suit because you don't want people entering zero or multiple options.
    • So - radio buttons will do the job nicely. One, and only one option can be selected from a list of 3. Sweet. This is fun. (Assuming you like data entry control fun).
  • Farmer or community member? - Let's skate over the quibble that people will be both farmers and community members. Remember the words of wisdom: work out what the examiners were probably trying to say. So it's a 50/50, true/false, yes/no sort of answer. What control is most efficient (easiest to use) and best to use (in terms of enforcing valid inputs)? Radio buttons again. A drop-down list is, again, excessive. Let's quietly ignore the options of checkboxes which would let 100% of farmers identify themselves as both options. Grrr. Bad question. Bad!
  • Grains produced - it's a limited list of 4 options.
    But - and this is a BIG 'but' - should suburban students be expected to know whether farmers produce only one type of grain? Or more than one?
    • If, in The Real World ™, grain farmers only produced one grain (e.g. wheat), the best control would be radio buttons - one and only one choice.
      If, however, they produced more than one grain, the control must be checkboxes - zero or multiple choices.
    • I lived on a dairy farm in the 1980s and know for sure that the farm produced more than one grain.
      Should students be tutored to become familiar with typical modern agricultural practices? "G'day kids. Take your seats. Today we're going to cover Gantt charts, and grain production in the Mallee! Get out your highlighters and tractors."
      Once again, the examiners are assuming knowledge that is beyond the scope of the study design and they should be smacked on their bottoms.
      So, let's use the common sense (which the exam writers did not use) and opt for - checkboxes. This allows for the selection of multiple grains.
      The reason: even IF most farmers only grow one grain, we must allow for those who grow more than one.
  • ALSO BUT...

    The case study states that "Sara has decided that wheat will be the only grain that will be processed at the new facility."

    So, surely the only relevant question for farmers is, "Do you grow wheat?"

    They can completely ignore the other irrelevant grains.

    The mind-reading required by this exam is hurting my head.

  • Rule #1 of data entry forms - "prohibiting the entry of valid and reasonable data entry (even if it's rare) is the work of dirty, nasty chihuahuas.''

    Have I mentioned that I hate chihuahuas even more than I hate Justin Bieber?

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad because

The exam has more than once assumed knowledge that is beyond the scope of the study design, and of most teenaged suburban students.

And while the thought of smacking examiners on the bottom is enticing, I think it should not be necessary.

  • Comments on the possibility of a new grain production facility in their region

Because it requires comments, it must use a textbox for free text input.

But (here we go again) - this is a badly-written question.

  • "the possibility of a new grain production facility"?

What does this mean?

Does it mean, "What are the chances of a new grain production facility being built?" Well, that depends on the decision of the Grains4Food company, doesn't it? Should respondents be given radio buttons labelled "Yes, it's possible" and "No, it's impossible"?

Or does it mean, "Do you want or need a new grain production facility?" That is a completely different question.

Should you offer a textbox asking them to explain whether they want a new grain production facility or not? Or would a Yes/No response be enough?

The question is, to be blunt, illiterate. It is vague and does not help students exercise their understanding of the course.
It just tests their mind-reading ability.

Illiteracy Award

I hereby award the exciting Illiteracy Award for crimes against the English language.

  • Whether they want to be contacted about the survey.

    That's a binary answer: a clear yes or no. Use radio buttons to restrict and enforce the binary nature of the input.

See? It's not the writing that gets you marks. You get marks for the thinking you do before the writing. The fiddly pen work only demonstates the quality of thy previous thinking.

Charging into answers at full speed without thought is a dangerous waste of time and effort. You will not get a prize from VCAA for being the first to finish the exam paper.

Stop - think - read the question twice again. Highlight key words. Read it a third time. Think again. Only then would you ... actually design the form.

The idea of a mockup is to give a designer a good idea of what you want them to produce.

Describe the general positions, sizes and styles of objects.

Emphasise features that you are particularly concerned about.

Above, my instructions are in red ink (bring a variety of pen colours for this purpose).

Do not endlessly repeat yourself: summarise. e.g. "All body text is 14 point Arial, black". You only then need to annotate the exceptions to your rule.

You do not have to provide every word of the finished product, hence the "blah blah blah etc". Get the look and size and position of it right. The actual boring wording comes later.

Sketching a draft of the design on a blank page in the exam book (you are not allowed to bring your own blank paper into the exam) will help you decide the relative sizes and positions of objects. As you can see, I had to add 2 extra boxes to accommodate all of the required fields. Without a prelimimary sketch, my finished mockup (which I could not be bothered producing) would have looked pretty slapdash.

Also, I messed up with the "Are you a farmer?" question and needed to squeeze a pair of radio buttons into the space I mistakenly left for a checkbox.

Sketching a graphic before you do your 'good copy' will make your life a lot easier, even though it does take a little more time.

And I remembered to include the SUBMIT button.


Students were asked to design a form for a survey that can be viewed as an input form.
They were required to label the appropriate form elements.
One mark was awarded for each of the following:
• two textboxes – Name and Email
• dropdown box or radio buttons – for region
• radio buttons or dropdown for farmer/community question or check box if question asked
• checkbox – Grain type
• textbox – Comments on facilities
• radio buttons or checkboxes – Contact
• Submit button. A number of students did not label the appropriate form elements and could not receive full marks.

State average was 3.8 / 7 = 54%


Question 4 (3 marks)

The team used the online community survey to gather data, and a sample of responses is shown below. Ali has told the team that the data is not suitable for use in the dynamic data visualisation. They will need to codify the responses.

Comment on a new grain production facility in your community area

I love it. It would be great for jobs.

I would hate the extra traffic. So, NO!

No, thank you -1 wouldn’t like the noise and pollution in the area.

More employment for the community would be great.

I don’t want bad smells in the air, so I am against it.

Will all the grain processed be from local farmers, so they get the money?

If there are many jobs created, I am all for it.

There are already too many cars and trucks. So, I would not like it.

I am concerned about the river being affected, but the area could do with investment for jobs and infrastructure.

All for it, if farmers get more money?

I would like more jobs in the community, but what about the environment?

Yes - new facilities in the area would be great.

a. Identify one reason why the responses need to be codified. 1 mark [2 lines]

It allows quantitative and statistical analysis and summary of the comments.

Students who gained one mark were able to correctly identify a reason why the responses needed to be codified.
Acceptable answers were similar to ‘You can manipulate the data into graphs or find trends to support the positive or negative comments’.
A number of students stated that codifying the data allows for qualitative data to be converted into quantitative data; while this is true, there needed to be more detail and an example to gain the mark.

State average was 0.2 / 1 = 20%

b. Explain the technique the team could use to codify the data so that it is suitable for the dynamic data visualisation. 2 marks [4 lines]

Comments can be categorised simply as FOR, AGAINST, or MIXED FEELINGS about the facility.

Reasons could be categorised as ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC, or OTHER.

Naturally, the chosen categories are strongly affected by the themes emerging in the qualitative data.

To gain marks, students were required to explain a technique that could be used to codify the data.
Marks were awarded for mentioning categorising or grouping responses with reference to the case study and for stating that they needed to calculate the total or count the responses.
Several students mentioned grouping the common words but did not relate this to the case study and therefore did not gain the mark.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
Descriptive coding – this involves Ali and the team assigning a descriptive term to each response and grouping it as such (e.g. traffic, job, money). This allows Ali to count responses and manipulate it for this dynamic data visualisation.

State average was 0.5 / 2 = 25%


Question 5 (4 marks)

Grains4Food wants to provide farmers with temperature and rainfall sensors to collect data from the farms. The farmer will upload the data from these sensors onto a computer on the farm's network and then send the data to Grains4Food using their internet connection.

Identify and explain the purpose of two network components that the farmers need to have so they can send the temperature and rainfall data to Grains4Food.

This is too vague. There are various acceptable options, depending on the internet provision and the local networks. Possibilities include:

  • modem (ADSL? VDSL? VDSL2? Fibre? Even ancient dial up, for dog's sake?)
  • WAP (wireless access point) if the sensors are wireless. We don't know. the case study didn't say. Maybe they're Bluetooth and need a Bluetooth receiver.Who knows?
  • satellite dish - not common for suburban students, but normal for remote farms.
  • router - unless the farmer has a gateway with a router built in. Again, hard to say.
  • gateway (modem + router in one unit) - often also with a switch and WAP
  • switch - to provide multiple network outlet cables from a single input. Unless their gateway has a switch in it, which many do.
  • NBN FTTC connection device - for farms near NBN fibre routes
  • network interface card (NIC)? Most modern motherboards have an inbuilt NIC.
  • CAT cable? Yep. It could be that simple.
  • a cheap smart phone that can receive Bluetooth data from the sensors and then send emails or connect to a website to deliver the sensor data to Grains4Food?
Dog's Breakfast Award

This question is far too vague.

Students could legitimately choose from a truckload of network components - common or rare, old or new - and deserve full marks because the case study did not narrow down what was reasonable and relevant in their case study world.

The technology of networking is VAST and COMPLEX and cannot be boiled down to two guaranteed certainties.

So, once again, students are forced to play the awful and unfair 'Guess What the Examiners Were Probably Thinking' game.

I hope the markers were told to be willing to generously accept a truckload of reasonable answers.

Otherwise, I will not be pleased.

So, let's reduce ourselves to thinking like an exam writer. This is not pleasant, I know: I have written many exams, and it is not nice to have to think like I do. Ask my mum.

What were they (probably) confidently expecting the average competent student to say? Let's not overthink it.

Network component 1


Purpose of network component 1

Receive and transmit data to and from the internet service provider, and then to/from Grains4Food.

Network component 2

Network interface card

Purpose of network component 2

Allows the computer to send and receive data from other networked devices (such as the modem).

I mean - honestly - I can't think of any other network device that must apply to ANY and ALL farmers.

The markers may think, "What? But a NIC is so basic... Surely it can't be that. I was thinking it should be..."

Yes - but a NIC is a vital network device (often overlooked nowadays because it's usually incorporated invisibly into motherboards with only an RJ45 ('Ethernet') port to show for its existence) but it's still crucial to connect to a local area network.

Prove me wrong. You may begin.

Students were asked to identify and explain the purpose of two network components that the farmers need to have, to send the temperature and rainfall data to Grains4Food.
Marks were awarded for listing the required network item (one mark x 2) and explaining the purpose of each item (one mark x 2).
Network items that were accepted: modem, router, switch, WAP, NIC and computer/notebook.
Several students were awarded one mark for identifying the network item but could not correctly describe its purpose. This was particularly the case when identifying a router. The purpose of a router is to connect two networks together e.g. a LAN to the internet.

Average mark was 1.9 / 4 = 47.5%


Question 6 (4 marks)

The primary data collected at the farms needs to be securely sent back to Grains4Food.

a. Explain how a software security control can be used to protect the data as it is sent. 2 marks [5 lines]

Key word 1: software. Not hardware.

Keyword 2: as it is sent. Not when it is stored.

TLS (Transport Layer Security) which replaced the older SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encrypts data in transit.

If the data is intercepted during transfer, it is (effectively) unreadable.

Only the authorised recipient has been given the unique decryption key.

Note - I didn't just say "Use SSL/TLS."

1. The question asked me to explain, which requires an explanation of the choice I made. Simply naming stuff is not good enough.

2. As noted above, simply spouting jargon and acronyms does not show you have done anything more than memorise letters that apply to a certain type of question. Prove your understanding.

To gain marks, students were required to give an example of how a software security control could be used to protect the data as it is sent.
Software security controls that gained marks were encryption, HTTPS or SSL. A common response for how the control could protect the data was ‘stops third parties gaining access while being sent’.
Students who named a firewall as the security control were not awarded any marks as the key to this question was the words ‘as it is sent’.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
They can use encryption on the primary data collected to Grains4Food to ensure that even if the data is intercepted when sent the hackers will not be able to access the data.

Average mark was 1.1 / 2 = 55%

Once again, the examiners refer to SSL (Secure Socket Layers) which was officially deprecated [declared obsolescent] in 2015.
The more secure TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption protocol superseded SSL 3.0 in 1999.
Yep - before you were born.

b. The collected data will be stored on a ‘network attached storage’ device at Grains4Food. Outline one advantage and one disadvantage of using a ‘network attached storage’ device. 2 marks

Advantage [ 2 lines]

The data stored on the NAS is shared by, and available to, all authorised users on the LAN. This lets everyone share a single, central, authentic copy of the data.

Disadvantage [ 2 lines]

If the NAS fails, the only source of authentic data may be lost, unless it's backed up.

(Using a RAID array minimises the risk of loss through a single disk's failure.)


Expense - a NAS is not cheap, and filling it with large-capacity high-quality hard disks is very expensive.

Yes, the RAID comment is included to be risky. It really is relevant - sort of, vaguely - but it is also a bit like showing off. Now is not the time to indulge in your personal pet topics. (I, for example, love NAS. I have a NAS that I like to talk about at parties. Which explains why I don't get invited to parties. But anyway, it's a purebred Synology DS418 with four 12TB drives configured as RAID5. His name is Norbert...

Anyway, you have better things to worry about right now - like C7.

There is always the temptation to show you know more than what you were asked. You do not get marks for that. You just use up valuable exam time, and ink.

Gird your loins, answer the question that was asked. Then move on.

If you have the luxury of spare time when you finish the exam, consider enhancing previous answers with your bonus wisdom - but only if it is relevant to the question.

If you add layers of irrelevant blather to good answers, you risk looking like you didn't know what the question actually was asking - and that may harm you.


Q. Why are cats good pets?

A. They purr and catch mice. (FULL MARKS)

Late addition: But cats aren't as good as otters, which love to swim. (The marker starts to have doubts about your ability to read a question.)

P.S. While the NAS is a very specific piece of network hardware, it is good to see that it is named in the study design's key knowledge (U4O2 KK05). Good examiners!

Students were required to state one advantage and one disadvantage of using a ‘network attached storage’ device.
It was clear from the responses that a number of students didn’t know what a ‘network attached storage’ device was and therefore did not gain any marks.


The most common acceptable responses for an advantage were:

• fast storage and retrieval as data is local
• large capacity for files
• storage space can be expanded by adding new drives or expansion bays
• data is easier to manage/secure/dispose of as it’s stored in one place
• data is not stored on the local computer
• can be accessed by anyone with access on the network.

The most common acceptable responses for a disadvantage were:

• as the number of users increases, a large increase in traffic over the LAN may slow performance
• data needs to be backed up as it is stored in one location on site (True: don't treat a NAS a backup device. It's a primary storage device)
• if security measures fail, an attacker gains access to all data
• devices that support faster storage mediums like SSD are significantly more expensive
• all in one place if something goes wrong – data lost
• need someone with technical knowledge to maintain it
• expensive to set up
• not portable (I disagree: a NAS is very portable. It just takes a minute to map it on any computer. I know. I have one.)

Average mark was 1 / 2 = 50%


Question 7 (2 marks) [4 lines]

A member of Ali’s team has found an online blog post by an unnamed user, called ''The Importance of Grain to all Aussies’, on the website ‘Grains Rule the World’ Justify whether Ali's research team should use this information in the dynamic data visualisation.

Justify = give good reasons to support an idea against criticism.

Note 1 : make it clear whether you think they should or should not use the information.

Note 2 : give reason(s) for your decision.

They should not use the information.

The reliability and credentials of the source are unknown and need to be corroborated.

The accuracy of their information has not been proven or validated.

The site's name seems biased in favour of grains, so it may be prejudiced and unreliable.

I have no problems with this question. Surprise!

Stamp of Approval

I give this my Stamp of Approval for questions I like.

Yes, Phil. It can happen.

To gain full marks, students were required to justify why a particular resource should be used. This needed to include that the authenticity of the information is in question, or the information could be biased (one mark) and that this is a result of an unknown author or a non-credentialed website source (one mark)
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.

Ali’s research team should not use this data as they do not know the origin of the data and it is not from a trusted source and may not be authentic data and therefore would harm the integrity of Ali’s data.

Average mark was 1.1 / 2 = 55%


Question 8 (1 mark) [3 lines]

The research team must reference all sources they use according to the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing standard.
Give one reason why sources should be referenced.

It allows readers to inspect the original sources of the data referenced by the producers of the dynamic data visualisation.


It confirms that the data is not plagiarised, and was produced by people other than the authors of the visualisation


It acknowledges the copyright of the authors of the original research.

Note the word "or" above - do NOT give three alternative answers even if you can.

Thank Dog the exam didn't ask for a fully-formatted example of an APA citation, including hand-written italic text - as they have done in the past.

That really would have been too much under exam conditions.

Well done, examiners: ít's a reasonable question within exam constraints. (Do I sound surprised?)

Stamp of Approval

To gain a mark, students were required to give a reason why sources should be referenced.

Acceptable answers were similar to:

  • gives credit to the authors of the source used

  • is a method of acknowledging the sources you have used in your work

  • acknowledges intellectual property

  • provides the reader with more information about sources

  • demonstrates that the data is authentic

  • can protect from claims of plagiarism

  • acknowledges any ideas or information which are not your own

  • Copyright Act 1968 – needs to have correct reason

  • gives credibility to the document.

Average mark was 0.7 / 1 = 67%


Question 9 (4 marks)

Ali thinks that collecting data through a Geographic Information System (GIS) is a good technique for efficient and effective data collection for each of the regions.

a. What are two components that could make up a GIS data set? 2 marks [4 lines]


Wheat production

I don't know why the exam provided 4 lines for the answer. It didn't ask for explanations or justifications.

Rainfall seemed particularly interesting to Ali, according to the case study, so I chose that.

And wheat (according to Sara) is the only grain they will process. So that seems most relevant too.

You could equally have opted for components like

  • roads and rail lines (for transport of goods),
  • nearby towns (for inconvenience to citizens),
  • mobile phone cell towers (for communications) ,
  • population densities (for employment of workers)
  • density of shops that sell pumpernickel bread (cos I lile pumpernickel)

Don't be afraid to cross out bad ideas. The marker will appreciate it.

It was clear from the student response that a large number of students did not know or understand what a Geographic Information System (GIS) was and therefore did not gain any marks for this question.

View the GIS slideshow guys.

Students were asked ‘What are two components that could make up a GIS data set’.
Successful responses mentioned items such as location (longitude and latitude, city name and state) and climate attributes (temperature and rainfall).

Average mark was 0.5 / 2 = 25%

b. Explain how GIS data collected in each of the regions can be used to assist Ali in preparing an effective visualisation. 2 marks [4 lines]

Ali can use the data to justify the choice of the facility's location. Good rainfall and high wheat production are good evidence to support the choice of a region, since those factors would increase productivity.

To see a GIS in action, visit Google Earth or Google Maps. You can see the various data layers that you can choose to combine to form the map.

And/or you can see my GIS slideshow.

As a large number of students did not understand what was being asked in part a., they also struggled to gain marks in part b.
Students needed to explain how the GIS data collected would be useful in preparing an effective visualisation.
Responses that gained marks included statements similar to ‘producing a map to compare attributes at multiple locations’ and linking that statement to an effectiveness attribute such as clarity, readability, usability, communication of message.

The following is an example of a high-scoring response.

GIS data represented on a map showing distribution of items and events can show readers of the dynamic visualisation the distribution of grains in different regions which will easily communication of message Ali’s visualisations data intend to show.

Average mark was 0.2 /2 = 10%

Guys and gals - I'm sympathetic to your cause, but that result was pitiful.


Question 10 (3 marks)

The team needs to select a design tool to represent the designs for the development of the dynamic data visualisation.

List the most appropriate design tool for the following components of the dynamic data visualisation.

Project component

Design tool

Identifying and naming the required data for the database Data dictionary
Spreadsheet formulas for data manipulation Input - Processing - Output (IPO) chart
Dynamic data visualisation appearance Screen mockup

'List' means give names only. Do not explain, define or justify them. But it's probably wise to spell out acronyms (e.g. IPO) to make it clear you're not just reciting terms you don't understand.

Project component Design tool
Identifying and naming required data for the database data dictionary
Spreadsheet formulas for data manipulation input–process–output (IPO) charts
Dynamic data visualisation appearance layout diagrams, annotated diagrams, mock-ups, storyboard

Average mark was 1.2 / 3 = 40%


Question 11 (2 marks)

Ali has been monitoring the progress of the project since it began. Explain a technique that can be applied to the Gantt chart to record this progress.




Milestones mark significant points in a project's progress. If a milestone is not reached by its due date, the project is behind schedule.

Another possible answer would be task dependencies. They indicate when a task should be finishing and a dependent task should be beginning. Any change to the earlier task wtill affect the start time of the dependent task.

And Samer has reminded me that the study design says in U4O1KK09, "techniques for recording the progress of projects, including adjustments to tasks and timeframes, annotations and logs"

Thanks, Samer. Good point!

To gain marks, students were required to explain a technique that can be applied to the Gantt chart to record this progress.
Students who gained marks mentioned techniques such as annotating the original Gantt chart, creating another Gantt chart to show their progress throughout the project or making notes in a log or journal.
One mark was awarded for each of the following:
• identifying the technique
• an explanation as to how the technique enables progress to be recorded.
A large number of students were unable to identify any of the three accepted techniques and were not awarded any marks.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
A project log can be created. This can help outline any things that may have been modified or changed as well as parts of the project that have gone well.

Average mark was 0.6 / 2 = 30%


Question 12 (7 marks)

The team will manipulate the data collected from the weather bureau using spreadsheet software.
All the data for the years that are being included are required in the spreadsheet with no blank cells.
A sample of a section of this spreadsheet is shown in Table 2 in the case study.

a. Identify and describe two techniques that Ali could use to validate the data in the spreadsheet. 4 marks

Data validation technique 1

Existence check - A value must be entered.

Data validation technique 2

Type check - Value must be numeric.

The question fed technique 1 to you on a plate:.. "with no blank cells". You can't complain that you weren't told.

This should be YOU approaching the answer to technique 1...

My chosen technique 2 is based on the nature of the rainfall data.

You could have applied a range limit (e.g. 0 to x) but that really depends on how much you enjoy being called an idiot.

BONUS: Here's an example of applying validation rules in a (LibreOffice) spreadsheet You can also specify what the spreadsheet should do if invalid data is entered.

Validation rule in spreadsheet

I gave up Microsoft Office apps a decade ago and have never regretted it. LibreOffice, OpenOffice etc are perfect clones, can read and write MS Office files, and are 100% free.

Students were asked to identify and describe two techniques that could be used to validate data in the spreadsheet.
Marks were awarded for each technique (one mark x 2) and for the application of the technique in relation to the case study (one mark x 2).
There are three acceptable validation techniques: range check, data type check and existence check.
Students needed to identify one of the three acceptable validation techniques and then give an example that related to the case study to gain a mark per technique.
The most common accepted responses were:
• data type check: Rainfall values for each month need to be set with numeric data type as they will be used for calculations
• range check: Year >= 2018 and <=2022. This will check that the year levels are within the acceptable values for the project.

Average mark was 1.8/4 = 45%

b. Describe one technique to test the functioning of the spreadsheet. 3 marks

Manually calculate the annual total rainfall for region 3 in a year and compare your total with the total calculated by the spreadsheet.

Annual total (mm) is the only calculated value in the spreadsheet. It's the only value that can be tested.

Repeat after me: Data is validated. Calculations are tested.

Never confuse the two. Right? Right! Excellent.

When asked to describe a technique to test the functioning of a spreadsheet, students need to include three steps:
• state the test you are going to conduct
• outline the data to be used, technique and expected result
• explain what needs to be modified if the test does not work as intended.
Responses that gained full marks were similar to:
Test that numeric data only can be entered in rainfall field.
• test data is 22, abc
• allows 22 through, error message for ‘abc’
• if no error message for ‘abc’, review that numeric data type has been set
Test total calculation.
• using calculator, enter and sum the values of rainfall for each month
• check that value on spreadsheet equals calculator result
• if incorrect, check the function used in spreadsheet.

Average mark was 0.4 / 3 = 13%


Question 13 (6 marks)

Ali imports the prepared spreadsheet data for rainfall into the data visualisation software.

a. Identify and outline one format and one convention that could be applied to produce a data visualisation that would be the most effective in showing the comparison of annual rainfall for the three regions for the past five years. 2 marks

Are your mental alarm bells going off? They should have detected the word "effective". Also, the word "one" should be foremost in your noggin.

Also, note that you need to (a) identify and (b) outline the format and convention. Two things to do. Forget one, and you lose marks.

Format [2 marks, 3 lines]

A line graph / chart with 3 lines showing the rainfall (vertical axis) for the 3 regions over the 5 years (horizontal axis).

Convention [2 marks, 3 lines]

Use different coloured lines for the 3 regions. This makes each region identifiable.


Label the axes to indicate the quantity of the variables (rainfall, year).

OK. Theory time Everyone go "Yay!".

What? Nobody? Sigh.

A format is a chosen method of presenting data or information. It is the vehicle, so to speak, to carry the conveyed information. Formats include text, picture, graph, animation, webpage, slideshow, music, morse code, etc.

A convention is a standard, accepted rule or guideline that should be used once a format has been chosen. e.g. once you decide to present data in a graph, there are standard practices to producing a good graph, such as labelled axes.

Students were asked to identify and outline one format and one convention that could be applied to produce an effective data visualisation. They needed to identify a line chart/graph as the format and outline how it was effective as well as identify a convention relating to the graph (axis title, chart title, scale or legend) and an effective reason for using the conventions.
Many students seemed confused between formats and conventions for spreadsheets and a data visualisation, and as a result did not obtain marks for this question.
Marks were awarded for format and reason (one mark) and convention and reason (one mark).
Students who identified a bar or column chart as a format did not gain any marks for this section.
A number of students obtained a mark for the convention but could not obtain the mark for format. Others did not give a detailed enough reason for both the format or conventions and did not gain any marks.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
- Format: Line Chart – can display the data for annual rainfall in the different regions over 5 years in a graphical manner.
- Convention: Large, bold heading clearly states what the graph is about in a reasonable manner that is easy to understand.

Average mark was 0.4 / 2 = 20%

b. Explain why your selected format is preferred to educate the target audience. 2 marks [3 lines]

It is pictorial, which suits a data visualisation. It is quick and easy for non-specialists to interpret, and would have a greater impact on them. It also condenses a lot of detailed data into a small space.

To gain marks, students needed to explain why the selected format is preferred to educate the target audience. Responses needed to state that the line chart showed changes over time (one mark) and that it involves a trend/pattern and/or compares data over time (one mark).
Most students did not mention change over time or a trend/pattern and therefore did not gain any marks for this question.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response:
- It clearly displays any trend within the data while allowing for comparison to be made between the regions.

Average mark was 0.3 / 2 = 15%

c. Outline a feature that could be added to your selected format in order to create a dynamic display of the comparison of annual rainfall for the three regions. 2 marks

A dynamic display of a graph is possible. It means that that graph constantly refreshes itself as the data changes in real time.
So, in this case, the data visualisation would magically change the graph to show the data added at the end of each month... assuming the audience would be sitting there, watching it for months at a time.

I can't really think of an answer to this, apart from a trivial animation, such as...

Animate the graph lines so they gradually appear month by month across the graph.


Animate the graph so the 3 regions' lines appear one after the other, in order from lowest rainfall to highest rainfall.

It all seems so pointless and ... Desperate to be Dynamic.

Sad Dog Award

I'm sad because

The study design writers and the exam writers seem to have confused 'dynamic' with 'animated'.

They are not interchangeable terms.

Dynamic means that the presentation changes in real time as the underlying data changes.

Animated just means that images move onscreen. Like this...

BIG difference!

Students were required to outline a feature that could be added to their selected format in order to create a dynamic display of the comparison of annual rainfall for the three regions.
Common acceptable features were:
• drop-down menu to select the year required
• animation to play through the five years
• check boxes to select the regions required
• radio button to select one region
• cursor over graph (hotspot)
• filter data.
Students were then required to outline how the feature would be used (one mark). This may have included what data could be compared to, e.g. could switch between different regions or years.
A large number of students mentioned navigation as the feature, as the focus was on the one chart; they did not receive any marks for that response.

The following is an example of a high-scoring response.

- The graph could have a checkbox feature that allows users to switch between the data visualisation of each region, and then select and choose the ones they wish to compare at each moment.

Average mark was 0.6 / 2 = 30%


Question 14 (4 marks)

Ali has completed the project and wants to assess the effectiveness of the project plan in managing the project.
Propose two measurable factors and discuss how they could have contributed to the effectiveness of the project plan.

Factor 1 [1 line]

Project completion rate

Discussion [4 lines]

How often and accurately did the project plan's milestones match actual task deadlines?

If the Gantt's milestones were achieved either late or early, it would not be considered effective.

Factor 2 [1 line]

Error rate

Discussion [4 lines]

If a timeline led to tasks failing, being left incomplete, or causing staff unhappiness - the predicted schedule was proably ineffective.

Wow. Those 'discussion' questions ask for a lot of writing for one mark each.

I really have no idea what the examiners were expecting me to say. So I had to resort to using Common Sense ™ instead.

- Another factor might possibly have been whether tasks were finished within their allocated budget, but Gantt charts don't tend to pay much attention to specifiying the cost of tasks.

- Also, client satisfaction might be a factor. If the project plan did not lead to the client being satisfied with the results, a bad project plan might have contributed to the problem.

- Scope might be a factor. Did the finished project successfully accomplish all of the tasks that were actually necessary, or were vital tasks left out?

To gain marks, students needed to propose two measurable factors and discuss how each factor could have contributed to the effectiveness of the project plan.
To obtain marks, responses needed to include two effectiveness terms (completeness, accuracy, maintainability and readability). The response then needed to link these terms to the project plan and explain how it would be assessed.
Acceptable higher-scoring responses were similar to:
• Completeness: were any significant tasks omitted from the project workflow? If any tasks were not included in the project plan, then this would have affected meeting the project due date with all deliverables.
• Accuracy: were tasks durations accurate? If durations were underestimated, then the project would have not run to time and the plan would not be effective.
• Maintainability: how easy was it to modify the Gantt chart? If the Gantt chart was difficult to modify, then it probably wasn’t going to assist in the management of the project.
• Readability: was it easy to see all tasks and their dependencies? If the chart was difficult to read, then it would not assist in meeting the project deadline.

Average mark was 0.5 / 4 = 13%



Question 15 (2 marks) [5 lines]

Sara was attending an industry event when she was approached by a fertiliser company that wanted to support Grains4Food’s farmers. The company was willing to offer a 20% discount to all farmers on any fertiliser they bought, but requested that Grains4Food send them the farmers’ personal contact information.

Should Sara be worried about this request? Outline a relevant legal issue related to this request.

Sara should be worried. Disclosing personal information without consent is - at least - an ethical problem.

She might be violating the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and its Information Privacy Principle #2.

The farmers have not consented to let Sara disclose their personal information for a purpose other than for which it was collected.

This is a biggy, and I suspect most students will be feeling something is dodgy but not able to identify a particular law.

OK. Let's take this apart.

The Australian federal Privacy Act (1988) applies to :

  1. Australian government agencies, and private organisations contracted to work for such agencies
  2. private organisations with an annual turnover more than $3 million. [Interestingly, this amount has not changed in 20 years, in spite of inflation]
  3. any organisations that volunteer to be subject to the Act.
  4. health service providers (including hospitals, doctors, pharmacists, gyms, weight loss clinics, childcare centres, private schools or colleges)
  5. businesses that buy or sell personal information
  6. credit agencies
  7. businesses that handle Tax File numbers

The Privacy Act includes the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 - organisations subject to the Privacy Act are required to notify individuals if their personal information has been compromised. But it's irrelevant to our question.

Grains4Food does not seem to be subject to the Privacy Act (1988). As always, the study design NEVER reveals the annual turnover of its organisations.

Let's scan the other legislation specified in the study design's glossary:

  • Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (if you want to waste an hour of your life, you can read it here. Go on. I double dare you.). I fell asleep at about Subsection 6(1). Does VCAA honestly expect 16 year-old students to read this stuff? I could find no earth-shattering information in this smelly bucket of words.
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (sections 13, 14 and 15) - irrelevant
    • 13 - Privacy and reputation
      • A person has the right
        (a) not to have that person's privacy, family, home or correspondence unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with; and
        (b) not to have that person's reputation unlawfully attacked
    • 14 - Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief - irrelevant in this case
    • 15 - Freedom of expression
      • Every person has the right to hold an opinion without interference. Irrelevant in this case
  • Copyright Act 1968 - irrelevant. Personal information is not copyrighted.
  • Health Records Act 2001 - irrelevant. No health information is involved.
  • Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) - 165 pages of legal LOLs. It really is funny. I'm surprised it hasn't been made into a movie. Anyway... it places obligations on Victorian public sector organisations (and contracted companies) to handle personal information in accordance with Information Privacy Principles (IPPs).
    • Below are the IPPs. Ones with red shading seem to be irrelevant. Ones with green shading might be applicable to this case.
    • IPP2 may be a legal problem. The case study does not really provide enough information to accuse Sara of abusing IPP 5.1 or 8.

Information Privacy Principles

IPP 1.1 - You can only collect personal information that is necessary for the performance of one or more of your organisation’s functions.
IPP 1.2 – You can only collect personal information by lawful and fair means and not in an unreasonable intrusive way.
IPP 1. 4 – Where reasonable and practicable, you should collect personal information about an individual directly from that individual.

IPP 1.3 and 1.5 – When collecting personal information, either directly from the individual or indirectly from a third party, you should make the individual aware of:

  • how they are able to contact your organisation;
  • that the individual is able to gain access to their personal information;
  • the purposes you are collecting the personal information for;
  • the types of individuals or organisations you usually disclose personal information to;
  • any law that requires the particular information to be collected; and
  • the main consequences for the individual if any of the personal information is not collected.

IPP 2 – You should only use or disclose personal information:

  • for the primary purpose for which it was collected; or
  • for a secondary purpose if one of the exceptions to the primary purpose rule (set out at IPP 2.1(a) – (h)) applies, such as:
    • the secondary purpose is related to the primary purpose of collection and the individual would reasonably expect your organisation to use or disclose the information for this secondary purpose;
    • the individual has consented;
    • the use or disclosure is reasonably necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the individual’s life or the public’s health or safety;
    • you have reason to suspect that lawful activity has been engaged in and the use or disclosure is necessary as part of your organisation’s investigation or in reporting the matter to the relevant authorities;
    • the use or disclosure is authorised by law;
    • the use or disclosure is reasonably necessary to assist a law enforcement agency perform its function or to protect the public revenue.
IPP 3 – You must take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information you collect, use or disclose is accurate, complete and up to date.
IPP 4.1 – You must take reasonable steps to protect the personal information your organisation holds from misuse, loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.
IPP 4.2 – If you no longer need personal information for any purpose, you must take reasonable steps to destroy or permanently de-identify it.
IPP 5.1 – You must set out, in a clearly expressed document, your organisation’s policy on the handling of personal information. You must make this document available to anyone who asks for it.

IPP 5.2 – If you are requested by an individual, you must take reasonable steps to let them know:

  • the general nature of what sort of personal information you hold;
  • for what purposes you collect the information; and
  • how you collect, hold, use and disclose that information.
IPP 6 – You must provide an individual, upon their request, with access to their personal information unless one of the exceptions in IPP 6 applies. IPP 6 only applies where an individual cannot access their personal information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic.).
IPP 6.5 – Where an individual informs you that the personal information you hold about them is not accurate, complete or up to date, you must take reasonable steps to correct that information.
IPP 7 – You must not assign, adopt, use or disclose a unique identifier unless doing so is necessary for your organisation to carry out its functions or otherwise authorised by IPP 7.
IPP 8 – When entering into transactions with your organisation, you must provide individuals with the option of not having to identify themselves, unless such an option is not lawful or practicable.

IPP 9 – You must not transfer personal information to a third-party recipient outside of Victoria unless:

  • that recipient is subject to similar obligations as the IPPs when handling that information; or
  • the individual, who the information is about, has consented; or
  • the transfer is otherwise authorised by IPP 9.
‘Sensitive information’ includes information about an individual’s: ethnic origin; political opinions; membership of political or professional trade association; religious beliefs; philosophical beliefs; sexual preferences; or criminal record.

IPP 10 – You must not collect sensitive information unless:

  • the individual, who the information is about, has consented; or
  • the collection is otherwise authorised by IPP 10.

There are some modifications to the way sensitive information can be used or disclosed; such as the requirement that, if being disclosed for a secondary reasonably expected purpose, the secondary purpose is directly related to the primary purpose of collection (not merely related).

  • Spam Act 2003 (Part 1.3, Simplified outline) - irrelevant, unless the fertiliser company starts spamming the farmers, but that is not Grain4Food's problem

Students needed to state if they should be worried about a particular statement and in doing so include any relevant legal issues.
Marks were awarded for:
• stating that Sara should be concerned as it is breaking the Privacy Act 1988 (must include correct year)
• identifying the Australian Privacy Principle that it relates to (does not have to list the number)
The two principles that apply to this question are that the entity can only use or disclose personal data for the purpose for which it was collected unless the individual has given consent to disclose the data.
A large number of students were able to identify the Act that the issue related to; a smaller number were then able to explain what the issue was relating to that Act. A small number identified the wrong act and were not able to gain any marks. Students who stated that there was no issue did not receive any marks.
The following is an example of a high-scoring response.
- Yes, she should be worried. Privacy Act 1988 may be breached. This law outlines that data should not be used for anything other than its intended purpose. If sara was to send her client data, she would breach the Privacy Act 1988.

Average mark was 1.1 / 2 = 51%

Section C Summary

The average mark for students in section C was a pathetic 34%.

How can this be explained?



Section C summary

It seems that students' performance in this exam was TERRIBLE. Some of it may be attributable to the exam questions, but it must be clear that students are not going into the exam properly prepared with basic theory and skills.

Come on, guys and girls. Get your act together.

And teachers: get your theory hats on and hit that key knowledge thoroughly. Don't just read my slideshows out loud.

This is just embarrassing.


This is my first post mortem for an exam with a section C - other than Software Developnment.

I approve of the move, but it makes me wonder why section B persists. It achieves nothing that sections A or C could not do.

I hope this post mortem has been useful. Tell me if you have problems or suggestions.

And let me leave you with this final thought: take on knowledge like a hungry puppy.

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Created 2023-11-07

Last changed: May 15, 2024 12:36 PM

Original Content © Mark Kelly 2023

Images and questions are © Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

Reproduced here with permission for educational purposes.