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South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE Certification)

Published on
May 12, 2024

What is SACE and is SACE Recognised Internationally?

SACE stands for the South Australian Certificate of Education and holds international accreditation for equipping students with the knowledge and skills as well as personality development to successfully partake in a fast-paced work environment or tertiary studies.

The SACE Board of South Australia has a key responsibility to develop the syllabus, recognise students’ key learnings, and provide suitable assessments to gauge their academic qualities to finally receive the SACE award.

The SACE Board directly hands the SACE certificate to government schools as well as independent and Catholic schools located within Australia. Their expertise also extends to recognise student achievements in the Northern Territory and at certain centres across Asia.

SACE South Australia Requirements

The SACE Board provides a breadth of subjects for students to choose from, which can play an integral role in their future interests, skills, and career aspirations.

In order to achieve the SACE award, the following criteria needs to be met by South Australian students:

  1. You must gain 200 credit points over two stages of your senior secondary study
  2. To gain 50 credit values you are required to complete mandatory study components without which you won’t be eligible for a SACE. These components include - Personal Learning Plan, Minimum Numeracy and Literacy Standards Achievement and the SACE Research Project in Stage 2
  3. The next 90 credits can be achieved through a combination of Stage 1 and Stage 2 subjects. Each student is exposed to over 40 subjects and are allowed to undertake Vocational and Educational Training programs (VET) as well as other recognised study components that accounts towards your SACE completion
  4. The remaining 50 credit points are crucial to your SACE completion and only subjects studied at a Stage 2 level can be taken into consideration.
  5. The final section is to secure a C(minus) Grade or higher to get the SACE qualification award as a recognition of your efforts and skills throughout the final years of your secondary schooling.

Navigating through a mammoth of subjects and VET programs can be a tad bit overwhelming, therefore a highly advocated strategy is to sit down with your school teacher or a career counsellor who can provide you with the right information about which subjects can complement your career goals and future studies.

If medicine or dentistry is on your checklist of future professions, then our senior UCAT mentors can help you understand the right subject prerequisites you need to choose in your high school in order to fulfil the medical school entry requirements.

What are SACE Subjects?

SACE Subjects Stage 1

A majority of students choose Stage 1 subjects during their Year 11 academic study and may have previously completed the Personal Learning Plan (PL) during their year 10 study. Year 11 is majorly focused on completing some of the mandatory and non-mandatory units that will provide the required subject credit towards your SACE.

As most students try to fulfil the two compulsory Stage 1 requirements in Year 11, we advise you to follow a similar study trajectory so as to be able to adequately devote time for Stage 2 subjects in your Year 12. The below mentioned requirements are compulsory aspects of Stage 1:

  1. Achieving a ‘C’ grade or higher in at least two semesters of an English subject or subjects, providing you upto 20 credits
  2. Achieving a ‘C’ grade or above in at least one semester of a mathematical unit, giving you 10 credits

Alternatively, you may also choose to study courses from other institutions, authorities or organisations that are equivalent to your schools standard of development in literacy and numeracy skills; and English or mathematics courses from other Australian states and overseas to meet the SACE literacy and numeracy minimum requirements.

SACE Subjects Stage 2

Year 12 is an important phase of your senior secondary education as this is the final opportunity to achieve the remainder of the 200 credit points required for your SACE award.

All students working towards their SACE requirements must achieve a C- grade or higher in 60 credits of Stage 2 subjects, or in an equivalent VET program and a total of 10 credits for the SACE Research Project.

How Should I Choose SACE Subjects for Stages 1 and 2?

Generally, selecting your Stage 2 subjects may seem quite easy compared to choosing Stage 1 subjects as by this phase of your schooling you may have established a sense of direction in your study that best aligns with your subsequent goals.

In addition to this, a large number of students often undertake less number of Stage 2 subjects in Year 12 to be able to develop a manageable study timetable and to cope with the mental burnout. For students planning to pursue a medical degree straight after high school graduation, it become highly imperative than ever to build a study schedule that works best around your social commitments, high school workload and the UCAT preparation. A quick one-on-one FREE consultation with one of our experienced UCAT tutors can clear your head and provide the right direction to managing your school-work and UCAT study

SACE study units are carefully designed to help you gain valuable insights into specific subject matter alongside developing literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities,; the last two skill-sets interestingly are key skills assessed in the UCAT exam. Therefore, students planning to sit and excel in the UCAT have prior experience of demonstrating specific skills from a high school phase of their lives.

How are SACE Exams Conducted?

Students who are currently completing Stage 2 SACE subjects have to undertake examinations as part of their final assessment. Each SACE subject is tested differently, hence, it is important to reach out to your SACE coordinator of school staff and find out whether your subject measures your academic knowledge through an examination or not.

The SACE Board can incorporate paper, e-exam, or oral format of testing procedures to gauge your Stage 2 subject learnings. 

Now let us establish some ground exam rules enforced by the SACE Board to ensure all students are exposed to a fair test taking environment, with eligible examination supervisors and necessary exam equipment.

  1. If you are appearing for one or more subject examinations, you will be given an exam attendance slip, which must be carried with you to all your exams.
  2. Special rules apply to exams that require a calculator in order to finish the test.
  3. For students undertaking an external examination, you will be required to sign an ‘attendance roll sheet’.
  4. The use of notes isn’t generally permitted for most exams with exceptions being during external SACE exams for General Mathematics and Essential Mathematics, and Mathematical Methods and Specialist Mathematics (for these subjects, you may bring an A4 Sheet of handwritten notes).
  5. Only non-Electronic, English-English, bilingual, and monolingual dictionaries are allowed within the exam premise for written exams.

How are SACE Results Calculated?

SACE Subjects Scaling and SACE ATAR

The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre, known in its abbreviated form as SATAC, compares the performances of students in a combination of SACE subjects.

Scaling as a process helps SATAC determine how scores in one SACE subject relate to scores in other subjects in an academic year.

Firstly, during scaling, raw scores from individual subject assessments are adjusted. This method, for example, allows the Centre to analyse how your performance in Chemistry sits in comparison to other Chemistry student performances. However, your score in Chemistry will not be compared to students who have complete subjects different than you. 

For completing each SACE subject, you will be awarded with an overall grade ranging between A+ to E-. Your overall grade for each subject will be determined by your performance in assessment tasks as part of this specific subject. Once you finish assessments linked to your chosen subjects, your school will provide the SACE Board with a grade for completing each of the tasks.

A similar grading system will be used to grade your assessment work in external assessments, that is A+ - E-. The SACE Board will use these results to calculate your ‘overall grade’. The grades you receive per assessment task completion will highlight your position in relation to other students. To interpret in simpler terms, if your secured grades in mathematics is a B, then you are better than a student with a B-, lower than a student with an A and on the same level as others with a B+.

NOTE: Your grade of C in English is ‘NOT’ the same as obtaining a C in Mathematics as the average grade in each of these subjects is taken into account.

Considering the competitive nature of the tertiary admissions, it is quite crucial to be able to accurately compare student performances and hence the method of scaling is actively used for fair comparison.

SATAC now converts all your subject grades to a numeric equivalent. 

Grades Numeric Value 
A+ 150
A 140
A- 130
Grades Numeric Value 
B+ 120
B 110
B- 100
Grades Numeric Value 
C+ 90
C 80
C- 70
Grades Numeric Value 
D+ 60
D 50
D- 40
Grades Numeric Value 
E+ 30
E 20
E- 10
N 0

After assigning a numerical value for your assessments, SATAC applies the necessary weighting for each assessment task to calculate an overall numerical score for each subject. Bear in mind that this ‘score’ is not just a summation of your subject scores but instead SATAC’s scaling process across different subjects. These scaled scores are translated into the ATAR which ranges from 0 - 99.95, which helps universities and tertiary institutions rank students according to their overall SACE performance. 

We hope the SACE guide can help you navigate through your subject choices and subsequent tertiary education in a smooth manner. For further information or advice, our senior UCAT tutors are readily available to provide up-to-the-minute information relating to the medical school admission process. Besides, you could always enrol into one of our UCAT events, such as Strategy Weekend, to understand the perks of sitting this aptitude test during high school to gain the full effect of the UCAT essentials.

We wish you the best of luck for your upcoming UCAT exam!