There are two stages of the SACE:
- Stage 1, which usually begins in Year 10 with the Personal Learning Plan, and continues through Year 11.
- Stage 2, which is usually undertaken in Year 12.
Each subject or course that is successfully completed earns 'credits' towards the SACE. Students receive a final grade from A to E for each Stage 1 subject and a final grade from A+ to E– for each Stage 2 subject.
To qualify for the SACE students must:
- complete a minimum of 200 credits
- achieve a C grade or better in the Stage 1 compulsory requirements
- achieve a C– grade or better in the Stage 2 compulsory requirements.
The compulsory requirements are:
- Personal Learning Plan — 10 credits at Stage 1
- literacy — at least 20 credits from a range of English subjects (Stage 1 or Stage 2)
- numeracy — at least 10 credits from a range of mathematics subjects (Stage 1 or Stage 2)
- Research Project — 10 credits at Stage 2
- other Stage 2 subjects — at least 60 credits from a range of Stage 2 subjects.
The remaining 90 credits can be gained through additional Stage 1 or Stage 2 subjects or Board-recognised courses of a student's choice (such as vocational education and training (VET) or community learning).