Scaling of HSC marks is the process of converting HSC marks into scaled marks for comparison. Read this guide to learn how different subjects are scaled and how to take advantage of scaling to maximise your ATAR.
What is meant by HSC scaling? The second step in determining your ATAR is the conversion of HSC marks into scaled marks.
Once your HSC marks are determined by NESA, they are submitted to the University Admission Centre (UAC) for conversion into scaled marks. UAC will convert your HSC marks into scaled marks through a process called ‘scaling’.
Let’s have a look at what this means for you. The table below shows HSC marks and scaled marks for various ATAR courses. Remember, the scaled marks are different to HSC marks.
|Table: Scaling of HSC Marks|
|Subject||Units||HSC Mark||Scaled Mark|
|History Extension 1||1||46||42|
The scaling of HSC marks is the process of ‘standardising’ raw marks (remember, your HSC Mark is the average of HSC exam mark and moderated school assessment mark) provided by NESA and then estimating what these marks would have been if all courses had been studied by all students.
At the end of this scaling process, different marks in different subjects are converted to a single UAC score (also known as an ‘aggregate’) for every subject. Although scaled marks generally differ from the raw marks from which they are derived, the ranking of students within a course is not changed.
Scaling is like converting a foreign currency to Australian currency.
You can compare scaling to a conversion of foreign currency (HSC Mark of a subject) to Australian currency (scaled mark of a subject). As different exchange rates apply to different currencies, so are different conversion rates applied to HSC marks of different subjects when they are converted to scaled marks for comparison.
How do you compare one student who scored a 90 in Mathematics Extension 2 to another student who scored 90 in Mathematics Advanced? It is impossible to do such a comparison without applying scaling to the marks!
For example, the table below shows HSC marks in Maths Ext 2 and Maths ADV can only be compared fairly using scaled marks.
|Table: Scaling of Mathematics Advanced and Extension 2|
|Subject||HSC Mark||Scaled Mark|
|Mathematics Extension 2||93||93|
Since each student undertakes a different combination of subjects, their performance in one subject will not necessarily reflect their ability in different subjects.
The same marks in different courses are not necessarily equal: just as different currencies are compared using the exchange rate, scaling is used to compare marks from different courses.
Scaling allows a comparison of marks from ‘difficult’ and ‘easy’ subjects. The underlying principle of scaling is that a student should neither be advantaged nor disadvantaged by choosing one HSC course over another.
The scaling graph depicts a relationship between Scaled Mark vs Pencentile rank. The vertical axis represents the scaled mark, which is a UAC score converted from an HSC mark. The horizontal axis represents Percentiles, which is a student’s rank in the course.
You can use the Matrix ATAR calculator to determine your HSC Mark, Percentile and Scaled marks for each course as well.
The scaling graph for English courses is shown below.
From the English Scaling graph, we can see:
If you are capable of undertaking Advanced English as one of your ATAR courses, then you should avoid undertaking Standard English as it is not a subject that is scaled well.
If you are good at English, consider Advanced or Extension English
English is the only compulsory subject and therefore your best two units of English are taken into account when determining your ATAR. Therefore English plays an important role in determining whether you get a good ATAR or an exceptional ATAR.
The scaling graph for Mathematics courses is shown below.
From the Mathematics Scaling graph, we can see:
If you are a capable Mathematics student and are deciding between Extension 1 & Extension 2 Mathematics, you should still undertake Extension 2 Mathematics.
If you are good at Mathematics, consider Mathematics Ext 1 or Ext 2.
Mathematics Extension 1 & 2 is scaled very well. A Mathematics Extension 1 & 2 student will need to be ranked in the 76th percentile (top 24%) and 52nd percentile (top 48% ) to receive a scaled mark of 45/50 or 90/100 whereas or Mathematics Advanced student will need be ranked in the 98th percentile (top 2%) to receive the same scaled mark.
If you choose General Mathematics, you must ace it.
The scaling graph for Science courses is shown below.
From the Science Scaling graph, we can see:
Chemistry and Physics scale slightly better than Biology.
If you are good at Science, consider Chemistry and Physics or Biology over Senior Science.
Therefore, Biology students must be ranked higher to obtain the same scaled mark as Physics and Chemistry students.
The scaling graphs for Humanities courses are shown below.
Economics scales better than business studies or legal studies. An Economics student only needs to be ranked in the 80th percentile to receive 40/50 scaled mark whereas a Business Studies student will need to be ranked in the 95th percentile to receive 40/50.
Modern History scales better than Ancient History. Extension subjects such as History Extension always scale well.
If you do are good at Music, consider Music 2 or even Music Extension over Music 1.
The scaling graphs for Language courses are shown below.
Continuers scales better than Beginners courses. For example, Japanese Continuers scales better than Japanese Beginners.
If you are good at Languages, consider Continuers course over the Beginners course.
Latin Continuers and Latin Extension are the best scaling courses for Languages.
When choosing your subjects for Year 11 and 12, students should not choose their subjects based on scaling. However, scaling should be used to determine the percentile required to achieve your desired scaled mark for each course.
Students are advised to consider the following questions when selecting subjects for Year 11 & 12.
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