Karen Lomas
June 5, 2014

Providing advice to Year 10 students: scaling and the ATAR

Girl in white. Ideas.

This blog is from VTAC  May 20, 2014 •

Helping year 10 students make study choicesAll VCE studies are treated equally in the calculation of the ATAR
The ATAR represents a students’ overall performance in their VCE studies, not just in one or two studies. In order to make sure that all studies are treated equally, VTAC scales studies.
Scaling ensures that all studies are treated equally, so a 25 in one study is equal to a 25 in another. Scaling ensures that it is possible for students to attain a high ATAR regardless of the combination of studies they undertake.
Detailed information on how and why VCE studies are scaled can be found in the publication ABC of Scaling

Just because a study is scaled up doesn’t guarantee a high ATAR
There seems to be a common misconception that if a student chooses studies that are scaled up they will achieve a higher ATAR. However, in many cases, students who chose studies based on this theory actually achieved a lower ATAR (because they struggled) than those who chose studies they were good at and enjoyed.

Think about it, Jack has chosen Mathematical Methods (CAS) because it is traditionally scaled up. He gets a 20, which is scaled up to a 22. However if he had done Further Mathematics and got a 30 for example, that would have been scaled down to 28. It doesn’t take much to see that the 28 would be a much better scaled study score than the 22, even though the 22 resulted in Mathematical Methods being scaled up.

There are some great examples of real VCE study programs in the booklet Choice, a publication specifically targeted to assist Year 10 students when selecting their VCE studies.

Doing a Language doesn’t mean an extra 5 is added to the ATAR
The bonus of 5 is actually added to the average Language score and is factored in during the scaling process and not after the scaling process. Remind students and parents that when referring to the previous years’ Language scaled study score the 5 bonus points have already been included.

The best advice?
Students are better off choosing studies that:

  • they enjoy
  • they are good at
  • reflect what they are interested in studying at tertiary level
  • provide them with more career options if you are undecided.

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