What’s a merit in SACE and how do I receive one?

For those in the top 2% of all students completing a particular SACE stage 2 subject, a merit will be rewarded. But first, let’s dive into what a merit actually is...

a month ago   •   4 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Ariel / Unsplash

Well done! You have just completed your SACE stage 2 for the year. As it is not
easy to achieve excellence, SACE likes to reward those who exceed their standards.
For those in the top 2% of all students completing a particular SACE stage 2 subject, a merit will be rewarded. But first, let’s dive into what a merit actually is.


What exactly is a merit?

A merit is essentially a recognition of excellence in a SACE Stage 2 subject. It
means that your subject results fall into the top 2% in comparison to all others who completed that subject. A merit does not mean that you necessarily achieved full
marks for each subject assessment. Furthermore, doing so does not guarantee a
merit as particular subjects typically have high scoring students. For example, many Visual Art and Child Studies students typically achieve marks in the A band. The SACE board decides who receives a merit after all students have completed the externally assessed component which is usually an exam, essay or folio and is worth 30% of your grade.

So how do I know if I have received one?

Ahhh it’s finally that big anticipated day - ATAR day! When you log in to SACE
Students Online, you should instantly see your results on your screen. If you have
received a merit, you should see the subject name above A+ with merit. You will then be invited to attend the SACE merit ceremony where you will be awarded that shiny certificate (woohoo!). You can also receive multiple merits, you are not limited to receiving one. Achieving multiple will significantly boost your ATAR, so let’s dive into the hot tips on how to get one!


But how do I actually get one (or more)?

Achieving a merit is something to be extremely proud of: you are in the top 2% of
SACE students! This does not come easy. You are going to have to put all of your
effort into all aspects of your subjects, right down to the little details. This means
double-checking your test papers, going over the rubric twice before submission and keeping on top of your homework. Here are some of my hot tips for achieving a merit.

  1. Keeping a planner
    As someone who got quite overwhelmed with all of those due dates buzzing around my head, I used a planner to keep track of the chaos of year 12! I would colour code due dates in my planner so I could clearly see when they were due, and how long I had left to do them. I would recommend getting a planner with plenty of space for writing to-do lists so that you have a fresh to-do list every day.
  2. Be specific with your to-do lists
    Following on from the last point, it is important your to-do lists are specific. For instance, writing ‘maths homework’ in your planner is not specific, I would
    recommend writing ‘Maths: Chapter 6 questions 1-17’ so that you are clearly aware of your goals and what you must achieve before the next day.
  3. Start assignments early as possible
    While knowing you have three weeks until an assignment is due may not seem that urgent, putting as much time as possible into the assignment enables you to really polish it up. During year 12, I worked on my assignments a little bit each day so I could look at my work with fresh eyes each day. This enabled me to re-phrase sentences in my essays or add new ideas to my practical reports. I was able to look at my assignments with a different mindset each time I sat down to complete them. The more time you put into the assignment, the stronger it will be.
  4. Look at the SACE criteria
    Making sure your assignments each follow the SACE criteria is extremely important as it ensures that you are ticking all the boxes. Read through the criteria (which can be found in the SACE subject guides online) and look at the keywords it uses. A trickI employed in year 12 was using these A-band keywords in my assignments. For example, SACE looks for a critical analysis in written assignments such as essays and SHE reports. Therefore, you could write: ‘critically analysing Shakesphere’s play, the audience is intentionally placed in the protagonist's perspective to...’. You must demonstrate to the marker that you have clearly met each criterion so that they are confident in giving you the highest grade.
  5. Have a study routine
    Sticking to a routine enables you to be consistent with your studies. It makes it much easier to sit down and start your homework for the day. I would also recommend having a study room separate from your bedroom so that you do not associate study with relaxation (thanks Pavlov)!
  6. Do practise questions
    Doing practise test questions helps you put all your knowledge into practice so can recall your knowledge faster in the real test. I recommend looking at past test papers, doing online quizzes, making your own practice tests on the content from your textbook and finishing every textbook question! The more you practice, the easier it will be to recall all your knowledge.

Above all, keep this in mind

While achieving a merit is something to be extremely proud of, it is not the be-all-
end-all achievement. You can also achieve a high ATAR without one. If you achieve an overall score above the average of your peers, you will be scaled up. Despite this, you should be extremely proud of yourself in year 12, you have made it all the way to your final year of schooling, and that’s something to celebrate! 🎉


Written by KIS Academics Tutor for SACE English, Biology and Psychology,
Charlotte Kenning. Charlotte is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Speech Pathology at Flinders University and has received stellar reviews from her past KIS Academics students. You can view Charlotte's profile here and request her as a tutor

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