Blog

VCE SAC preparation

This post was first authored a couple of years ago but the content is still relevant for today - hope it helps. Heath

SAC preparation for high performance. A brief history...

Not too long ago the VCE system was made up purely of CAT's instead of SAC's. CAT's or Common Assessment Tasks were completed by each student (one per subject-per unit) and was an extended piece of work that required lots of time, effort and energy. The system was unfair because teachers could not verify what work was being completed by students outside of normal class hours.

Hence the introduction of the SAC system or School Assessed Coursework where assessment tasks are completed by students (under direct teacher supervision) & then corrected by teachers. (CATS are still completed but they are usually referred to as just the exam CAT in each particular subject.)

Early on in the school year most students will have probably have participated in their first SAC & would have experienced their own SAC preparation and most likely the pressure of SAC completion. What is great about the SAC's is that if you make a mistake it has a small effect as it only contributes a small amount to your overall subject mark. It is important to think of SAC preparation as one small preparation step towards your mid year VCE exam and/or end of year VCE exams. The great thing about the SAC's are that all schools are required to abide by the same assessment criteria as outlined in each respective assessment handbook.

Teachers will provide to the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) a score for each outcome in a unit, which represents an assessment of the student’s achievement. The score must be based on the teacher’s assessment of the level of performance of each student on the outcomes for the unit specified in the study design. Teachers must select assessment tasks from the designated list for each outcome published in the study design.
Assessment tasks should be a part of the regular teaching and learning program and should not add unduly to student workload. Assessment tasks should be completed mainly in class and within a limited timeframe. The overall assessment program for the unit should include a variety of assessment task formats, include provision for authentication of student work and take into account the overall workload for students.
As taken from the VCE English Assessment Handbook.

The obvious negative to the use of SAC's is that all schools may have different levels of difficulty for the SAC's which may result in some students scoring higher on SACs compared to other schools. It is important to note that the SAC scores are moderated by your VCE subject exam results.

There are a number of strategies for SAC preparation and SAC success.

Firstly...ask your teacher the following 5 questions 7 days prior to the SAC.

1. What is being assessed including Outcome & Type of SAC (eg. Test, Lab report) and when (double check the day and time).

As many as 2-3 students in each class will either: i) not know/remember that the SAC is on or ii) study and prepare for the wrong outcome & assessment criteria.

This is academic suicide! Double check to make sure you have all the details.

2. What is the time frame for the SAC? Some SAC's may only be 50 mins...others may be more - it obviously depends upon the type of the task and the subject you are in. If the SAC goes over 2 periods over 2 separate days you can review the questions & criteria between those 2 days and then prepare answers to those questions at home. Knowing the duration of the SAC will also remind you to be on time to class!

3. What resources can you take into the SAC? Is it open book? Can you take in a "cheat sheet"? Can you take in a calculator (if so - what type? Scientific of Graphic), english translator, dictionary? Ask specific questions and be prepared. Chances are you won't be able to use other students resources when you are in the SAC.

4. Is there any specific preparation I should focus upon? Good VCE teachers will give you a specific criteria sheet and a checklist of items to review for each SAC so you are fully prepared. Teachers can't usually tell you exactly what is on the SAC (with the exception of the assessment criteria) but they will probably generalise, use specific examples, and accentuate key points or ideas...pay attention because this information all stacked up will pay off big time in extra marks.

If you are short on time you can always take a pre-prepared list of topic related questions to the teacher prior to the day of the SAC. In your list of questions ask the teacher "Will I need to know about TOPIC ?". Your teacher will definately give you clues to what you will need to know.

5. Are there any practice questions I can use? Teachers rarely enjoy (or have the time) having to re-write up all new question papers. They may borrow questions from text books, past exams, past SAC's, old CATS etc so ask around and maybe, just maybe, the teacher will steer you in the right direction to find out where to get the questions and answers. Better still ask past students of the subject to get their SAC's, practice exams and notes.

Remember teachers love to help the students who want to do well. Ask and you shall receive.

Contact Us

Please fill out all inquiries below.