SACE Certificate

Welcome to the SACE a student guide

How does the SACE work?

The SACE is made up of two parts: Stage 1 (which most students do in Year 11) and Stage 2 (which most students do in the Year 12).

Students need to get 200 credits to achieve the SACE, through a mixture of compulsory and free-choice subjects and courses. 

Students work will be assessed using an 'A to E' grading system in Year 11 and an 'A+ to E-' grading system in Year 12. These systems are supported by rigorous quality assurance processes. 

To be awarded the certificate, you will need to achieve a C grade or better for the compulsory Stage 1 subjects - the Personal Learning Plan and English and Mathematics subjuects. You will also need to achieve a C - grade or better in 60 credits of Stage 2 subjects including 10 credits for the Research Project. 

Senior secondary students learn through a combination of Open Access, eLearning and face-to-face delivery models.

The other subjects and courses span a wide range of learning areas: Arts; Business, Enterprise, and Technology; English; Languages; Health and Physical Education; Humanities and Social Sciences; Mathematics; and Sciences. Flexibilities in the SACE include cross-disciplinary subjects and recognition of community learning. 

For more details about how the SACE works, check out the Achieve publicatons. 

Two editions are produced each year - one for students commencing Stage 1 and another for students undertaking course counselling for Stage 2. 

Year 10

Year 10 is an important year in thinking about the path you may want to take after school, and for making sure you’re in the best position to work towards your education, training and career goals.

The Personal Learning Plan (PLP) is a Stage 1 subject usually studied in Year 10 that will help you plan your future and show you how you can study effectively to achieve your SACE.

The PLP is the first compulsory subject of your SACE. It’s a 10-credit Stage 1 subject designed to give you a good foundation for Year 11 and Year 12. 

You’ll need to achieve a C grade or better in the PLP to earn the 10 credits for your SACE.

As part of the PLP, you’ll work with your teachers to plan your SACE. This means selecting the subjects that will help lead you to your preferred study and employment options. 

Your teachers or careers counsellor can help you identify the subjects that meet university prerequisites, provide a solid base for university learning, and are likely to help you do your best.

You’ll probably also receive your SACE registration in Year 10. This gives you access to the SACE Students Online portal, where your SACE results will be recorded – starting with your PLP.

The SACE planner

Stage 1 (usually Year 11)

Most students choose Stage 1 SACE subjects in Year 11 and follow with Stage 2 subjects in Year 12. 

You can choose from the Stage 1 subjects offered at your school, as well as vocational education and training (VET) courses and other options.

When you begin Stage 1, you may have already completed your Personal Learning Plan (PLP) in Year 10. Now, you’ll study some compulsory and some non-compulsory subjects that will earn you more of the credits towards your SACE. 

There are two compulsory Stage 1 requirements that most students complete in Year 11:

  • Achieving a 'C' grade or higher in at least two semesters of an English subject or subjects (giving you 20 credits in total)
  • Achieving a 'C' grade or higher in at least one semester of a mathematics subject (10 credits).

The equivalent of satisfactory achievement in courses from institutions, authorities, or organisations that have a primary focus on the development of literacy or numeracy skills; and English or mathematics courses from other Australian states and overseas, will also meet the SACE literacy or numeracy requirement.

In addition to these compulsory requirements, you’ll add other, non-compulsory subjects to your study schedule.

Choosing your Stage 1 subjects

Most students study Stage 1 subjects in Year 11. When choosing your subjects it's important to think about your own interests and goals.

SACE subjects worth 10 credits are usually one-semester subjects, while 20-credit subjects usually involve a full year of study.

For most full-time students, a Stage 1 course load in Year 11 will earn them about half of their 200 credits.

These include the compulsory two semesters of an English subject or subjects, and one semester of a mathematics subject; or equivalent courses that you need to meet the literacy and numeracy requirements.

When choosing your subjects, you should think about what you learned in your PLP about planning your SACE to help you enter university or training or apply for the jobs you’re interested in.

It may help to ask yourself:

  • What am I interested in?
  • What am I good at?
  • What sort of job, or types of work, will help me follow my interests?
  • What subjects do I need to study to improve my options?

Stage 1 assessment

In Stage 1, all of your assessment tasks are marked by teachers at your school.

Some of the tasks will count towards your SACE certificate. Others won’t count for the certificate but are important in helping you learn, practise and prepare for future assessments.

Your Stage 1 work will be assessed using grades from A to E, according to performance standards for each subject.

The standards indicate the knowledge, skills and understanding you’re expected to achieve, and your grade shows how your assessed materials match those standards.

In Stage 1, the assessment tasks you submit for the compulsory subjects are marked by your teachers, then checked by external SACE moderators to ensure that marking is consistent across all schools.

Stage 2 (usually Year 12)

In Year 12, you’ll earn the remainder of the 200 credits you need to complete your SACE.

You will need to achieve a C– grade or better in 60 credits of Stage 2 subjects, or the VET equivalent and in 10 credits for the Research Project.

Choosing your Stage 2 subjects

Choosing your Stage 2 subjects will be a similar process to choosing those you studied in Stage 1.

You may find it easier to select your Stage 2 subjects, as in choosing your Stage 1 subjects you’ll have established the direction you wanted to take, in line with your interests and goals.

In Stage 2, most students reduce the number of subjects to create a manageable schedule that provides the credits they need. You should discuss with your teachers which subjects are best for you and allow you to follow the university or other paths you want to take after school.

If you're thinking about going on to further study after Year 12, it's important to familiarise yourself with entry requirements for university and TAFE. Make sure you check out Planning beyond SACE to help you choose the right subjects to get into the courses you want.

Stage 2 assessment

In each of your Stage 2 SACE subjects, 70% of your assessment tasks are marked by teachers at your school and checked by moderators outside the school. This ensures that marking within the subject is consistent across schools.

The remaining 30% of the assessment tasks – such as examinations, performances and major investigation assignments – will be marked outside your school, by SACE markers. This also ensures that they are viewed and graded consistently.

In Stage 2, the highest grade you can achieve is A+ and the lowest E-. These grades align with performance standards that define how well you have demonstrated what you know, understand and can apply in your assessment tasks. The standards provide benchmarks for your teachers and the SACE markers to follow when assessing your work. 

2024 VET for School Students 

Understanding moderation

How your work is marked


Wirreanda Terrace
Hawker SA 5434

Phone: 08 8648 4003
Fax: 08 8648 4149