Tertiary Entrance Guide 2020: Keeping it fair

In calculating the ATAR, VTAC scales study scores. This ensures fair comparison of students’ achievements over all their studies, regardless of what they have studied.

What is scaling?

Scaling adjusts for the fact that it is more difficult to obtain a high VCE study score in some studies than others. This is not because some studies are inherently harder or easier, it is because some studies attract a more competitive cohort of students.

Scaling ensures that students are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged based on the studies they choose. All VCE study scores are scaled by VTAC.

Why are study scores scaled?

Study scores reflect the relative performance of a student in that individual study, but make no comparison against students completing other studies. To select applicants fairly, institutions need an overall measure of the performance of students undertaking the VCE in all studies and in all combinations. Study scores are scaled to consider the different levels of competition in different studies.

When are scores scaled?

VCE studies are always scaled in the year in which you undertook them. This may not necessarily be in the year in which you receive your ATAR.

How study scores are scaled

The basics of scaling: an example

In scaling VCE Chemistry, VTAC follows the following process:

This process is repeated for every VCE and scored VCE VET subject every year.

Studies with additional scaling rules

The following studies attract additional scaling rules. Unless you like these studies and are good at them, choosing these studies simply because they are treated differently in scaling won’t automatically guarantee you a higher ATAR.

Mathematics: VCE mathematics studies are designed to cater for students of differing abilities and interests. Unlike other studies there is a distinct hierarchy of studies:

  • Specialist Mathematics is the most difficult
  • Followed by Mathematical Methods
  • And then Further Mathematics

To ensure that students undertaking the more difficult mathematics studies are not disadvantaged by the level of difficulty, all three mathematics studies are scaled against each other as well as being scaled against all other studies. The higher of the two resulting scales is used for each of the mathematics studies.

Languages: As a result of government policy to encourage the study of languages, each language is adjusted up by adding five to the initial VTAC scaled study score average. This does not mean that five points are added to the ATAR. What it does mean is that for study scores at, or close to, the score average of 30, the adjustment is 5. This adjustment is different for each study score and decreases as the study score moves away from 30.

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