New to ATAR & Scaling? In this guide, we explain how your HSC marks and ATAR are determined. In addition, we explain how to take advantage of the scaling of different HSC subjects to maximise your ATAR.
The beginner’s guide to ATAR & Scaling is an in-depth tutorial on how an ATAR is determined. This guide covers the process for determining your HSC marks to an ATAR as well as strategies you can implement to take advantage of the scaling of different subjects.
A list of the common terms that we use in this guide is provided below:
|Aggregate||The sum of scaled marks in 10 units of ATAR courses consisting of 2 units of English plus the next best 8 units. The aggregate is out of 500, as each unit is equal to 50.|
|HSC mark||The average of HSC Exam mark and moderated school assessment mark. The HSC mark is an indication of your performance in the course.|
|Performance Band||A description of a typical performance by a student based on where their mark falls within an HSC mark range.|
For a 2 unit course, Band 6 indicates the highest level of performance. The ranges of HSC marks for the bands of 2 unit courses are listed below:
For an Extension course, E4 indicates the highest level of performance. The ranges of HSC marks for the bands of Extension courses are listed below:
Extension Courses (except Mathematics Extension 2)
Mathematics Extension 2
Mathematics Extension 2 students have their achievement for both Mathematics Extension 1 and Mathematics Extension 2 reported using four bands but the mark range is out of 100 rather than 50.
|Scaled mark||The adjusted HSC mark after the scaling process. This is the mark a student would have received if all courses had the same candidature and the same mark distribution.|
Let’s begin by understanding the difference between HSC marks and an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).
HSC marks provide information about how well you have performed in each of the courses you have completed. So we can better understand this, let’s look at a table below to see what HSC marks are.
|Table: What are HSC Marks?|
|What is an HSC mark?||Information about how well you have performed in each course|
|What does HSC mark indicate?||Your performance in the different courses|
|What is the maximum HSC mark attainable?|
|Who determines the HSC mark?||NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority)|
|How is it calculated?||HSC Mark is the average of HSC Exam mark and moderated assessment mark.|
You can see a copy of an actual student’s HSC Record of Achievement from NESA (formerly known as Board of Studies) below.
You will receive an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Index) after you have completed the HSC; all students who sit the HSC receive one. Your ATAR is a number between 0.00 and 99.95 with increments of 0.05. It is a numerical measure of a student’s overall academic achievement in relation to other HSC students.
|Table: What is an ATAR?|
|Acronym||Australians Tertiary Admission Rank|
|What is ATAR?||Information about how well your have performed overall against other students|
|What does ATAR indicate?||Position/Rank in relation to Year 7 students you began school with|
|What is the maximum ATAR attainable?||99.95 (Top 0.05%)|
|How many students can get 99.95 ATAR?||40-50 students|
|Who determines the ATAR?||University Admission Centre (UAC)|
Remember, ATAR is a rank and not a mark.
You can see a copy of an actual student’s Australian Tertiary Admission Rank Advice from UAC (The University Admissions Centre) below. The student obtained an ATAR of 99.7. This means this student performed better than 99.7% of their cohort.
The ATAR allows universities to rank students for selection into their courses. It’s calculated by universities and released by the UAC. Visit UAC website to view cut-offs for different university courses or visit the Matrix ATAR Calculator to search the University Courses.
Students study different combinations of HSC subjects. Therefore comparing a student’s overall performance based on HSC marks is difficult.
For example, how would you compare Jack’s result of 95 English Advanced with his friend who scored 97 in English Standard? Who performed better? In order to compare a student’s overall performance fairly and equitably, UAC converts this into a UAC score and then into your ATAR.
Universities use your ATAR on its own or with other selection criteria, to rank and select applicants for admission into university courses.
To be eligible for an ATAR you must satisfactorily complete at least 10 units of ATAR courses.
These ATAR courses must include at least:
A student’s ATAR is a rank which is based on an aggregate of scaled marks in 10 units of ATAR courses comprising of:
The flowchart below outlines the process of determining your ATAR.
We will explain each step of the process in the following parts:
Attend our FREE ATAR & Scaling Seminar to better understand the process for determining your ATAR. Learn more about our upcoming ATAR & Scaling Seminar.
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