Maximising VCE Success - VCE SACs Explained (2024)

January 31, 2024Learnmate

Navigating VCE this year requires a deep understanding of how you will be assessed and the pivotal role that School Assessed Coursework (SACs) play. As part of this VCE SACs guide, this blog aims to demystify SACs, shedding light on their importance in shaping your final study score and providing a roadmap for excelling in this critical aspect of your overall VCE study strategy.

SACs in the VCE Context

In the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), SACs are a crucial evaluative measure, contributing significantly to a student's Year 12 academic journey. Despite common misconceptions that downplay their importance, SACs are more than just minor hurdles; they are instrumental in establishing a student's rank within their class, which in turn, influences their final study score.

Our tutors often get asked by parents, students and even other tutors(!) "how important are SACs?", so here's the answer.

1. The Misunderstood Importance of SACs

The connection between SACs and the final VCE study score is often understated in many VCE guides. Similarly, it's not uncommon for students and even educators to view each SAC as contributing 'only 5%' to the overall score. This perspective, however, oversimplifies the complex role SACs play in the overall VCE exam preparation process and the contribution it makes to your final study score.

2. The True Impact of SACs

Contrary to the common belief that 'it's all about the exam,' SACs serve a dual purpose: they not only gauge your understanding and application of the subject matter throughout the year but also determine your ranking among your peers. This ranking is crucial, as it directly influences your position in the curve set by the collective exam performance of your cohort.

Additionally, viewing the exam as the be-all and end-all of a VCE subject (which it isn't), puts enormous pressure on students on exam day and may exacerbate fear and stress.

3. Deciphering SAC Scores

A common point of confusion lies in the translation of SAC scores into your final study score. It's essential to recognise that your SAC score does not directly contribute to your study score but rather determines your rank within your class. This rank is then aligned with the exam scores to ensure fairness and accuracy in assessing your overall competency in the subject.

An Illustrative SAC Scenario

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Consider a hypothetical classroom with four students: John, Ben, Louise and Penny.

Average SAC Scores

each with varying average SAC scores as follows:

  • John 71 3rd
  • Ben 88 2nd
  • Penny 96 1st
  • Louise 69 4th

Clearly, Penny has the highest average SAC mark over the year, followed by Ben, then John and finally Louise. Accordingly, they are assigned these ranks, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Final Exam Scores

Now, consider the scores these same four students achieved in their final exam:

  • John 75 4th
  • Louise 85 2nd
  • Ben 76 3rd
  • Penny 90 1st

Now the order is different. This may not seem intuitive, but the different order is actually very typical for VCE students. Imagine the following scenarios. John and Penny perform roughly the same as they have during the year, but John ranked 4th in the exam. But Ben, having performed outstandingly during the year, overestimates his understanding of the subject and focuses on revising for other subjects instead. He ultimately performs well below on the exam than during the year. Louise, however, is in the opposite position. Realising she didn't do her best on the SACs, she opted for support from a Learnmate tutor to prepare her for the exam!

Moderated SAC Scores

What happens next is an intriguing and dynamic process where exam scores result in new rankings that result in the student's SAC scores being moderated. Here's the interesting part: the process of moderation results in each student's average SAC mark being adjusted to equal the VCE exam mark that carries the same rank as the SAC rank that student had.

Here's an example to illustrate:

  • John’s study score is calculated based on the 75% in the exam and a new moderated SAC score. As John was ranked 3rd in his class, his moderated SAC score is calculated by replacing what John achieved in his SACs (71%) with the 3rd ranked score in the exam (76%). John's final scores are 75% (Exam) & 76% (Moderated SAC mark)
  • Louise's final scores are 85% (exam) & 75% (Moderated SAC mark based on the 4th ranked exam score)
  • Ben's final scores are 76% (exam) & 85% (Moderated SAC mark based on the 2nd ranked exam score)
  • Penny's final scores, although she remained rank 1 for both, are harmed by her final exam score, so her final marks are 90% (exam) & 90% (Moderated SAC mark based on the 1st ranked exam score)

As we can see, this process seems to be wonderful for some students and unfair for others. In reality, the system is moderated so that these massive differences in scores do not exist. However, the VCE system does penalise students with major discrepancies in their SAC and exam scores, designed to prevent cheating.

The Take-Home Message

The importance of SACs during the VCE journey cannot be overstated. They are not mere academic formalities and definitely do play a key role in shaping your study score and, ultimately, your overall VCE performance.

Your performance during the year has a direct result on your final scores and it is not all about the final exam. It is also true that, although you want to stand out, you can improve your own results by being in a high performing class with results clustered towards the top. Helping each other with challenging problems and supporting fellow students during VCE may actually help to boost your own grades.

In conclusion, SACs are a vital component of the VCE framework, demanding attention, preparation, and understanding. Although your exact average performance may not contribute directly to your final study score for a subject, they have an indirect impact and your overall rank among your peers plays an even bigger role.

So the next time a teacher or friend tells you not to worry as a SAC is ‘only worth 5%’, refer them to this blog post!

Ready to elevate your SAC performance and overall VCE success? Connect with expert VCE tutors at Learnmate who can provide personalised guidance and strategies to maximise your SAC scores and ace your exams. Share this knowledge with your peers and navigate the VCE journey together with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can students effectively prepare for SACs throughout the year?

Effective preparation for SACs involves consistent study habits, understanding the curriculum, and regular revision. Practicing past SAC questions and seeking feedback can also enhance performance.

2. What strategies can help manage SAC-related stress?

Managing stress can involve time management, setting realistic goals, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking support from teachers, peers, or counsellors when needed.

3. How do SACs impact the final VCE score compared to other assessments?

SACs are crucial as they contribute significantly to the study score, which, combined with exam results, determines the final VCE score. Their impact varies among subjects and schools.

For more detailed insights, consider exploring educational resources or consulting with academic advisors.

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