# Part 1: How HSC Marks are Calculated

Your HSC mark in a course is the average of your HSC examination mark and your moderated school assessment mark. Read this guide to learn how your HSC mark is calculated through moderation.

## Calculation of HSC marks by NESA

The first step in determining your ATAR is the calculation of HSC marks from school assessment marks and HSC examination marks.

Remember, in the Overview of the Beginner’s Guide to ATAR and Scaling we explained how your HSC mark is the average of your HSC exam mark and your moderated school assessment mark :
$$\text{HSC Mark}=\frac{\text{HSC Exam Mark} + \text{Moderated School Assessment Mark}}{2}$$

At the end of Year 12, your final school assessment mark ( the weighted average of your school assessment mark) for each course is submitted to NESA so that it can be used to determine your HSC mark.

But first, your final school assessment mark needs to be moderated, that is to say, adjusted before it can be used to calculate your HSC mark. Hence, the moderation of your HSC assessment mark can affect your HSC Mark. Let’s look at the moderation of school assessment marks in more detail.

## Moderation of school assessment marks

### What is moderation of school assessment marks?

Moderation of your school assessment marks is a process of adjusting all of the school assessment marks in each course in light of the HSC examination.

Your HSC mark for each course is affected through a process known as moderation of school assessment marks.

### Why is moderation of school assessment marks required?

All schools use different programs of assessment tasks and these are marked slightly differently. Some schools’ assessment programs may be more demanding than others, which means that students from different schools experience different assessment conditions and results. Hence, all final school assessment marks submitted by your school are adjusted to ensure that marks are awarded appropriately and consistently.

## The process for moderation of school assessment marks

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) provides the following overview of the moderation process:

1. The mean of the school group’s assessments is adjusted to equal to the mean of the examination marks obtained by the students in that group.
2. The top HSC assessment mark is adjusted to equal to the highest examination mark obtained by any student in the group.
3. Where possible, the bottom moderated HSC assessment mark is equal to the lowest HSC examination mark obtained by any student in the group. Note, however, that this is not possible when the distributions of the school HSC assessments and the examination marks have very different shapes (nb. when we talk of shapes we are referring to the way a collection of marks look when plotted as a curve on a graph. We will discuss this in detail in the the next part of the guide). In such cases, the bottom moderated assessment mark may need to be moved up or down.
4. The sum of HSC exam marks must equal to the sum of the final HSC assessment marks of a course in a school

As you can see, the moderation process involves complex statistical modelling and analysis. Let’s use an example to understand the assessment moderation process in a more simplistic manner.

### Example

Let’s use the following example to understand how this process can affect your HSC Mark. The table below lists the HSC English assessment marks and HSC English exam marks of students at a hypothetical school.

 Table: HSC English Assessment and Exam Marks of Students Ranking Overall English Assessment Mark of Students at ABC School HSC English Exam Mark of Students at ABC School 1 94 [Peter] 97 [Peter] 2 93 [Sally] 96 [Linda] 3 92 [Linda] 95 [Sally] 4 91 [Mark] 94 [Lisa] 5 90 [Lisa] 93 [Andrew] 6 88 [Andrew] 86 [Mark]

Peter’s HSC Mark
Peter was ranked first in English at his school and therefore his final school assessment mark is adjusted to equal to the highest HSC English exam mark in his school. Hence, his final school assessment mark of 94 is adjusted to 97!

Peter’s HSC Mark is calculated as:
$$\text{Peter’s HSC Mark}=\frac{97+97[94]}{2}=97$$

Note that Peter’s final school assessment has been adjusted upwards, yielding a higher HSC mark.

Sally’s HSC Mark
Sally was ranked second in English at her school and therefore her final school assessment mark is adjusted to equal to the second highest HSC English exam mark in her school. Hence, her final school assessment mark of 93 is adjusted to 96.

Sally’s HSC mark is calculated as:
$$\text{Sally’s HSC Mark}=\frac{95+96[93]}{2}=96$$

Mark’s HSC Mark
Mark was ranked fourth in English at his school and therefore his final school assessment is adjusted to equal to the fourth highest HSC English exam mark in his school. Hence, his final school assessment mark of 94 is adjusted to 91.

Mark’s HSC mark is calculated as:
$$\text{Mark’s HSC Mark}=\frac{86+94[91]}{2}=90$$

Andrew’s HSC Mark
Andrew was ranked sixth in English at his school and therefore his final school assessment mark is adjusted to equal to the sixth highest HSC English exam mark in his school. Hence, his final school assessment mark of 88 is adjusted to 86.

Andrew’s HSC mark is calculated as:
$$\text{Andrew’s HSC Mark}=\frac{93+86[88]}{2}=90$$

## How your school performance affects your school assessment marks

In our ATAR and scaling seminar, many students and parents ask:

1. Does the performance of my school in HSC exams affect my HSC marks?
2. If so, how does it affect my HSC marks and ATAR?

Yes, your school’s performance in the HSC exam of a subject does affect your final HSC assessment marks, and, hence, your HSC mark as well. As ATAR is a rank determined by the sum of scaled marks (HSC marks are converted into scaled marks), it is important that students obtain the highest possible HSC mark for each course they undertake.

The performance of your school in a course in the HSC exam determines how your final HSC assessment marks are moderated.

For example, if your Year 12 English Advanced cohort perform poorly in their HSC exam and the sum of their HSC English Advanced exam marks is less than the sum of their HSC English Advanced final school assessment marks submitted to NESA (formerly BOSTES), then most students’ final school assessment marks are likely to be adjusted down.

Please note that moderation is not the same as ‘scaling’ of subjects. We will explain the scaling of HSC marks in Part 2: Scaling of HSC Marks.

## How to minimise the impact of moderation of school assessment marks on your HSC

If your school is performing poorly academically and you are concerned about how this might affect your HSC mark, you can minimise the negative effect of your school’s performance in a course by:

1. Ranking first in your final school assessment and in the HSC exam for each course. In such cases, your HSC exam mark will determine your assessment mark just like Peter in the example above.
2. Taking a collaborative learning approach with your peers by forming a small study group and sharing resources such as study notes and exam papers. This will increase the overall performance standard of your cohort in the HSC exam and will result in your cohort acquiring a greater sum of HSC exam marks. If the sum of HSC exam marks for a course by your cohort is greater than the sum of assessment marks submitted to NESA, then your assessment mark is likely to be adjusted higher as there is a greater distribution of assessment marks available towards each individual student.

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