By this time in the third term, most year 12 students have completed all of their SACs (School Assessed Coursework). Many have already received grades from their teachers, but many students and parents may not understand the significance of these grades, nor how they impact the student’s final study score in the course.
Some schools provide a numerical score for SACs, while others use letter grades such as A, B, C, D, E. If a student receives a numerical score, they should understand that this score is not the final score used to calculate their study score. The SAC score will be adjusted based on their performance in the final exam, with better exam results leading to higher SAC scores and worse exam results resulting in lower SAC scores. Please refer to my previous article for more information on this topic.
If a student receives letter grades, these are based on the normal distribution of total marks after the teacher has graded all the SACs. The student with the highest mark will receive an A+, while most students will receive a C or C+. This grade “helps” students and parents to roughly estimate their ranking, but it is unclear how much better or worse a student performed compared to their peers.
Of course, if a student is unsatisfied with their grade, they can ask their teacher for a score breakdown. It is possible to find a few extra marks in some “nooks and crannies.” In VCE exams, every mark counts towards a higher rank. As a student, I recommend checking your score breakdown, but as a teacher, I would prefer students not to ask for a score breakdown as it can be time-consuming. In schools, teachers are unlikely to tell students directly their exact score. This is why schools often use vague grading systems.
Receiving an A+ is quite rare. If a student receives an A+, their next step is to look at the historical exam results of their school. For schools that produce eight top-performing students each year, it is possible to obtain a score of 48-50. Therefore, every student who wants to study medicine must achieve at least an A or A+ in their SACs.