How to improve your SAC marks

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School Assessment Coursework or SACs are important in the calculation of your ATAR score. It is vital for a VCE student to excel in the SACs along side with exams to ensure a high ATAR. SACs together with exams will build your ATAR score into a 4-digit number! It is imperative to treat SACs seriously – and not to just depend on the exams to excel in the VCE.

How should I prepare for SACs?

(1) Understand what your VCE teacher wants.

First and foremost ensure that you understand your teacher and follow their requirements. If they like large diagrams of a cell in VCE biology – make sure you do this in your SAC. Even if your VCE tutor may disagree, it doesn’t matter – they will not be responsible for marking your work. Some students over-rely on their tutor because they may seem more experienced than their VCE teacher – it is fine to use their expertise for throughout the year but remember that SACs are assessed by your teacher.

Ask your VCE teacher the following questions:

  • How is an excellent SAC set out?
  • What expectations do they have for the SAC?
  • Do they have any tips or recommendation of how to improve in SACs?
  • Exactly what topics are covered in the SAC?
  • What is it wise to focus upon to prepare for the SAC?
  • Do they have any extra resources to prepare for the upcoming SAC?
  • What format i.e multiple choice, short answer or long answer will be in the SAC?

It is vital that you ask your teacher and pull out as much information as possible about the SAC. Make sure that you know exactly what chapters the SAC will be focusing on – many students are not well informed about their upcoming SACs and only have vague ideas about the content covered. These students find themselves unprepared when their official SAC begins. Make sure you ask your VCE teacher about all the details before your SAC.

Practice your skills on a broad amount of resources.

Once you know what your SAC will be covering, it is important to practice as much as possible. Don’t just rely on your textbook to develop your skills – rather broaden your perspective! If you have a VCE tutor ask them to provide you with other resource. VCE tutors that are experience and actually care about your education should provide resources for you.

Experienced VCE tutors should know, through experience what the important concepts are to focus on – particularly if you know what topics your VCE teacher is focusing on. Some VCE tutors may have their own practice SACs which you may be able to use. That way you are not wasting too much of your precious study time searching for relevant questions.

If you don’t have a VCE tutor – there are other ways that you can prepare yourself. This does take more time and effort though! By searching the internet for worksheets, textbooks and other practice exams you can develop a deeper understanding of the topic explored. Obviously this demands much more time and energy, but the same results can be generated.

Communication within you SAC

It is important to understand how to set up answers to questions. Many students fall into the trap of not answering the question that they are given in the SAC. Your written communication skills are very important to achieve excellence in your SAC marks. Another important factor is your presentation.

Every subject has its own unique language, and there are correct ways of setting up answers to questions. Quite often if you do not set up your answer the way your teacher likes it, you will lose marks. This is also valid in the VCE exams; VCE assessors have their own preference of setting up the ideal answer.

Some subjects, usually humanitarian based subjects or English require keywords in an essay or short response answer. Other subjects such as maths or science require you to present your work in a logical, neat manner. It is really important to ask your teacher exactly how the VCE assessor expects your work to be set up – this is usually how the teacher will expect you to set out your work in a SAC. So make sure you find out, exactly how your teacher expects questions to be answered.

Make sure you will your content “back to front”

It is very common for VCE students to enter a SAC without being well prepared. Although they may have attempted textbook questions – often the level of difficulty of textbook questions is a lot lower than the official SAC you will have at school. This usually surprises students, because although they feel prepared, they still manage to receive a poor mark.

In order to excel in a SAC, students should understand how to do all the questions in their textbook – without hesitation. That way they know that the basics are covered. After understanding of how to complete every textbook question related to the topic is developed, it is important to broaden your prospective and search for more complex questions. Analysis based questions are excellent tools to use to test whether the dynamics of the subject is understood.

Although you may have covered the basics in textbook questions – applying it to the real world is a completely different experience. Many students in Maths Methods year 11 feel confident with straight lines. They may have completed all the exercises from chapter 1A – 1J … However when they have a SAC, the student may become surprised that they don’t know how to apply this into a real-life situation. This is because the problem is not just asking for basic knowledge recital, rather it is asking to apply knowledge in situations that may not have seen before.

VCE is not entirely about understanding how to balance an equation or how to write an essay – rather it is about applying your knowledge in unknown situations. This is often what students struggle with most, however through practice and broadening your prospective – there is no reason why you cannot excel.

Within this article we focused on four major ways that you can improve your SAC marks as a VCE student. We hope that you use some of our tips in order to help yourself reach your academic dreams!


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