When it comes to choosing HSC subjects, or the HSC period you may hear the buzzword ‘scaling’.
Scaling is the standardisation of ‘raw’ HSC marks across various subjects.
It is the first step in calculating the final ATAR.
HSC scaling allows us to compare results from different level subjects. It is intended to ‘even the playing field.’
HSC scaling ensures students’ marks are fair based on their subject choice.
Essentially, scaling ensures students are not at an advantage or disadvantage for choosing ‘more difficult’ subjects.
The HSC scaling process is completed by the University Admissions Centre (UAC) based on a specific algorithm.
Scaling does not favour students who choose harder or easier subjects.
According to UAC, If a course has a high scaled mean it tells us that, on average, the ability of the students in that course is high – in general, they did well in their other courses.
To understand how scaling works, you must remember that the ATAR is based on your child’s:
HSC Raw Examination Marks (external)
School Assessment Marks (internal)
School Assessment ranking (internal)
HSC Scaled Examination Marks (external)
This is where your HSC paper is marked and your ‘raw’ marks are obtained.
Your child’s ‘raw’ mark is their actual mark on the paper, what the examiner gave them when marking.
Where there are more than 100 marks in an exam, UAC will scale the paper and your raw marks will become a ‘total weighted mark’.
UAC will also examine the performance of the entire cohort for the subject.
This is also where UAC will determine different ‘band’ cut-offs.
Bands are always the same where Band 6 = 90-100, however depending on the performance of the cohort, a random raw mark is scaled (to become a total weighted mark).
For example, a raw mark of 84 could be scaled to 91 and thus your child will receive a Band 6.
Students receive their examination marks for each HSC subject but not their raw marks.
UAC will then ‘moderate’ your child’s HSC examination mark with their Raw School Assessment Marks.
This step is essentially standardising school marks ONLY.
If your child has a high achiever in their cohort, this will boost their mark if they did not perform as well because they are pushing up the mean marks.
The final scaling process involves multiple complex equations.
That is why many parents choose schools which perform well academically. But this also involves the rest of the cohort across the state.
If the students in the HSC subjects your child chose do well in THEIR OWN other subjects, the subjects will be scaled up, and thus your child’s marks will also be scaled up.
Ida Ajdari, Business Manager and Head Tutor at Sigma Education reveals many of her senior students use scaling to boost their ATAR.
“Let’s say students get 80 in environmental science and 80 in chemistry, the school will typically scale the chemistry higher as it is considered more difficult, and bump up the ATAR.”
She does advise the most important factor is to consider the students personal interests.
“If they don’t work hard or enjoy the subject, a high scaling subject would instead bring their ATAR down. Scaling won’t interfere with them doing well. They should choose a subject if they are passionate and know they are going to do well.”
UAC undergoes the scaling process each year so HSC subjects are scaled differently each year.
For example, it is not automatically assumed that Chemistry is always harder than Society and Culture. Rather, UAC includes the marks of every student in a given year for the scaling process.
So Chemistry will only scale high if the students performed well in their other HSC subjects.