This study examines the effect of Catholic school culture on academic achievement in the Higher School Certificate Examination. A model expressing interrelationships among home background, student characteristics, academic motivation, expectation, school culture perceived by students and academic achievement was developed and tested utilising multilevel path analysis. Data comprised questionnaire responses and examination results from 4949 Year 12 students in New South Wales, Australia, from 44 Catholic schools. The study identified both direct and indirect influences of aspects of school culture on academic achievement, after controlling for student, home and school characteristics. Copyright © 1998 Carfax Publishing Ltd.