Everyone talks about scaling, yet most students have no idea how it works. To maximise your ATAR, it’s necessary that you understand the inner workings behind how your marks are calculated and how scaling ultimately affects your results. Let’s start off by defining what scaling is.

Scaling in context of the HSC is a process that the BOSTES undertake whereby they standardise a student’s raw HSC mark to approximate the average mark that all students could have achieved if they studied all courses. Now I know what you’re thinking, I mean WTH does that even mean? Think of scaling as converting currencies. Different exchange rates are applied to different currencies based on a wide range of factors such as the supply and demand of a certain currency. The factors that dictate scaling in the HSC centre around the perceived difficulty of the subject.

For example, Standard English would scale lower than Advanced English due to the higher level or learning required in Advanced. Essentially, scaling works to balance out the easy and difficult subjects so that no student gains an advantage by choosing easier subjects and doing well in them and no student is disadvantaged by picking more difficult subjects and achieving average results.

My top tips for students that are looking to choose the right subjects would be:

  1. Select subjects that you are passionate about or are at least interested in learning.
  2. Talk to students who have taken the course and gain their feedback on the subject.
  3. DO NOT pick a subject just because it scales well. No matter how well a subject scales, if you don’t do well in it, don’t expect that scaling will bail you out, because it won’t.

Although a short overview of the process, I hope this gives you a better understanding of how the scaling system works when it comes to calculating your HSC marks. At the end of the day, it’s best to not worry about scaling. Leave it to the experts whilst you concentrate on crushing those exams. Scaling will take care of itself. If you need any more clarity, please comment in the section below and I’ll endeavour to get all your queries answered!

Till next time.


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