VCE SACs Explained

14 June 2024
Posted in Students
14 June 2024 ram-horizon

Navigating VCE requires a deep understanding of how you will be assessed. One of the critical factors to understand is the role that School Assessed Coursework (SACs) play. These little-understood and often misunderstood assessments are essential in shaping your final study score and can guide you in succeeding in your overall VCE study strategy.

What are SACs in the VCE Context?

SACs are a pivotal evaluative measure in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). They contribute significantly to a student’s Year 12 academic journey. There are common misconceptions that downplay the importance of SACs, but they are more than minor hurdles. They are instrumental in establishing a student’s rank in their class and the final study score.

The connection between the SACs and the final VCE study score is often underrated, not only by VCE guides but also by students and educators, who consider SACs to contribute only 5% of the overall score.

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This approach oversimplifies the vital and complex role of SACs in the overall VCE exam preparation process and its contribution to the final study score.

The Importance of SACs

SACs serve a dual purpose. They gauge your understanding and application of that year’s subject matter and determine how you rank among other students in the same year. The ranking is crucial because it directly influences your position in the curve set by the collective exam performance of students in that year.

Also, the perspective that the final exam is everything in the VCE subject can put enormous pressure on a student on the exam day. It may increase fear and stress, impacting the students’ performance and perspective.

Understanding SAC Scores

The translation of SAC scores and how they factor into your final study score is confusing for students and families. It’s vital to recognise that your SAC score doesn’t directly contribute to your study score but determines your class rank. The rank is then aligned with the exam scores to ensure accuracy and fairness when assessing the overall competency in the subject.

Importance of SAC Marks in Your VCE

SAC scores play a pivotal role in shaping a student’s final assessment and determining their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), which is the rank used by tertiary institutions to determine the students they should accept into their courses.

Understanding the weighting of SAC marks is vital for students aspiring to achieve a certain ATAR and pursue their preferred tertiary education pathways.

How Important are Unit 1 and 2 SACs?

Unit 1 and 2 SACs will not directly impact a student’s final study score for a subject or their ATAR. However, they are still significant because they lay the ground for success in Units 3 and 4. These early assessments act as stepping stones and help build foundational skills and knowledge to navigate the more advanced SACs and exams in later units.

Although they don’t directly affect your final score or the ATAR, they should be taken seriously, as the skills and knowledge developed during units 1 and 2 will be critical to creating a solid foundation for students to succeed in Units 3 and 4.

How Important are Units 3 and 4 SACs?

SACs in Units 3 and 4 hold immense weight in determining a student’s ATAR. These assessments directly contribute to the calculation of study scores and are then used in the aggregate to calculate a student’s overall ATAR ranking. Excelling in SACs during Units 3 and 4 and aiming to be as highly ranked as possible in your class can have a significant impact on a student’s final ATAR and overall tertiary educational prospects.

How Do VCE SAC Rankings Work?

The SAC rankings aim to place all students on a standard scale. The process follows these steps:

Students in their cohort are ranked

The moderation groups in SAC consist of students from one school and sometimes other partner schools who are completing a particular subject.

If you’re studying English in school A, you would be in a moderation group of everyone studying English in the same school.

Everyone in the moderation groups will be ranked according to their coursework grades. It’s not complicated. The person with the highest coursework grade gets the first SAC rank, the second highest coursework grade gets the second SAC rank, and so on.

A common scale is developed

Two scales are made, one from school-assessed scores and another from external assessment scores. These two are aligned by matching fixed median scores as closely as possible. However, every VCE student’s SAC rank is preserved during this process.

Students School-based assessment scores are compared

After the common scale is developed, every VCE student’s score is then placed on the common scale. The scores are ranked and distributed to fulfil the following benchmarks:

  • 2% of students will get a score of or above 45
  • 9% of students will get a score of or above 40
  • 26% of students will get a score of or above 35
  • 53% of students will get a score of or above 30
  • 78% of students will get a score of or above 25
  • 93% of students will get a score of or above 20

It is important to note that statistical moderation does not alter the student’s rank. A student with a top rank for school-based assessment will have the top score after statistical moderation, no matter how they perform on the exam.

Why Does VCE Have SAC Rankings?

The SAC ranking process aims to achieve fairness and equity for all students in the VCE curriculum.

This process accounts for the fact that not everyone can sit the same SACs and SATs or at least make them all the same difficulty.

This ideally means that you will not get a lower or higher study score because of the school you went to or the type of teacher you had.

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Additionally, the statistical moderation process rewards students who perform consistently throughout the year, not just on the final exam, which underlines the importance of the SACs.

How Do VCE SAC Rankings Affect My ATAR?

The SAC moderation process tends to benefit all students in the following ways:

  • If you have a harsh SAC marker, your scores will be increased
  • If someone has an easy SAC marker, their scores will go down
  • If someone underperformed in the exam, they won’t bring the class down with them
  • Your achievements throughout the year will not be tarnished if you underperform in the exam.

However, there are situations where the process could have a negative effect. If your teacher fails to separate the top students in the cohort, the good and excellent students will be clumped together at the top, creating an inaccurate ranking of the cohort.

Your teachers must get the rankings right. If they don’t, it could drag everyone down.

Preparing for Your SACs

Now that you understand the value of SACs and how they can impact your future, you should prepare to succeed in every SAC assessment to give yourself the best chance of achieving your academic goals. E

Effective preparation for SACs requires a strategic approach that combines various study techniques and time management skills. Here are some tips that can help you excel in your SAC preparations:

Study and Revision Techniques

You should implement effective revision and study techniques tailored to the specific subject SAC requirements. These include organising study groups, utilising past SACs for practice and leveraging teacher feedback to refine understanding. Students who achieve high ATARs often approach assessments the same way.

Consider engaging a tutor

Private tutoring can do more than help you understand the subject matter and cover learning gaps. They can also help you with test preparation. At Alchemy Tuition, we can help you find a tutor with expert level understanding of the subject you will be assessed in and help you create a revision guide and help you stick to it. Working with a tutor can be highly effective, and you get valuable insights into subject-specific requirements and time management skills that can help you improve your chances of success.

Managing stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can impede your chances of success and how you handle exams, even if you’re well-prepared. Developing coping mechanisms to manage anxiety and stress associated with SACs and prioritising mental well-being to optimise academic performance is critical. You should find the best strategies that work for you. Working with a tutor can help because they can help you identify methods that can help you calm down and better manage your time.

When revising for your SACs, remain in constant contact with your teachers. Ask for previous SACs on the topic with worked examples to see how to approach the questions. Also, ensure you learn the common pitfalls and errors that students encounter in the SACs and how to avoid them.

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