A system of vertical drains combined with vacuum preloading is an effective method to accelerate soil consolidation by promoting radial flow. This study presents the analytical modeling of vertical drains incorporating vacuum preloading in both axisymmetric and plane strain conditions. The effectiveness of the applied vacuum pressure along the drain length is considered. The exact solutions applied on the basis of the unit cell theory are supported by finite element analysis using ABAQUS software. Subsequently, the details of an appropriate matching procedure by transforming permeability and vacuum pressure between axisymmetric and equivalent plane strain conditions is described through analytical and numerical schemes. The effects of the magnitude and distribution of vacuum pressure on soft clay consolidation are examined through average excess pore pressure, consolidation settlement and time analyses. Finally, the practical implications of this study are discussed.