HSC ATAR Scaling Report 2023 - How to Maximise your ATAR in 2024

Interested in how your subject could scale your ATAR this year? This report analyses 2023's ATAR trends to explore how scaling impacts different HSC subjects and how you can utilise that knowledge to maximise your marks.

2 months ago   •   5 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by MD Duran / Unsplash

Overview of 2023 results

  • In 2023 a total of 55,523 students received an ATAR.
  • 17.5% of the students received an ATAR of 90.00 or above.
  • 35.0% received an ATAR of at least 80.00, 51.8% at least 70.00, and 67.4% at least 60.00.
  • The median ATAR was 71.05.
  • 49 students who received the top ATAR of 99.95.
  • Candidates awarded an ATAR of 99.95 studied 37 different courses out of the 116 courses offered.
The HSC Syllabus - what it is and how to understand it for your subject to ace the HSC
If you’re curious about the HSC syllabus, you’re in just the right place - we go through the Maths, English, Legal Studies and much more in this article!

How does scaling work?

Scaling is when the raw marks a student receives in their subjects are adjusted to reflect the relative difficulty of those subjects compared to others. NESA has a very unique method in which they scale their subjects. First, they align the raw marks to bands that best describe the standards that the students achieve. This can compress a range of raw marks to a smaller number of HSC marks. For example, all Band E4 performances in English Extension 1 are allocated one of the six integer grades 45.0 to 50.0. Thus, after aligning and rounding, for each HSC mark, there can be a range of corresponding raw marks and hence a range of scaled marks. In general, there is no unique scaled mark for an HSC mark, however, trends can be found giving some students an edge.

HSC English

  • In 2023 for English Standard, a raw mark of 95 was not scaled and remained HSC mark of 95, a raw mark of 75.5 was scaled to a HSC mark of 80 and a raw mark of 60 was scaled to a HSC mark of 70.
  • In 2023 for English Advanced, a raw mark of 93 would be scaled to a HSC mark of 95. A raw mark of 83 would scale to a HSC mark of 90 and a raw mark of 67 would be scaled to a HSC mark of 80.

There is no doubt that English Advanced scales better than English Standard - Advanced is harder than Standard and the scaling system is designed to reward that. However, you shouldn’t pick a subject based on how it scales! You will always do better in the subject that you enjoy the most and/or are good at. If you enjoy the subject, you'll be more motivated to study for it and naturally, you'll perform better during the exams. That being said, if you think that you can give Advanced English a decent crack then go for it!

The typical example of scaling when it comes to English is as follows:

  • If you can achieve the 30th percentile (top 70% or the state) or higher in English Advanced, you will achieve a higher scaled mark than a Standard student in the 90th percentile or lower.

HSC Mathematics

  • In 2023 for Maths Extension 2, a raw mark of 66 was scaled to a HSC mark of 90 and a raw mark of 54 was scaled to a mark of 80.
  • In 2023 for Maths Extension 1, a raw mark of 80 was scaled to a HSC mark of 94, 65 was scaled to a mark of 90 and 55 was scaled to 80.
  • In 2023 for Maths Advanced, a raw mark of 95 was scaled to a HSC mark of 98 and a raw mark of 65 was scaled to a HSC mark of 83.
  • In 2023 for Maths Standard, a raw mark of 93 remained a HSC mark of 93 and a raw mark of 80 was scaled to 84.

If you've had a look at past HSC Math extension exams you'll notice that they are designed to be very hard - and that's why they scale so well. Scoring 60% in a Maths extension exam would be somewhat equivalent to scoring 90 or 95% in Maths advanced.

Maths extension 2 is considered the highest scaling course in the HSC. While many students will struggle to get through it, getting a band 6 in math extension 2 will be a huge ATAR booster. However, does that mean you should choose Maths Extension 2 if you want a 99+ ATAR?

Want to get a more precise estimate of your ATAR? Check out our ATAR calculator.


What does high-scaling vs low-scaling subjects mean?

High scaling subjects are those that are perceived as more difficult, and consequently, students may receive higher-scaled marks for achieving the same raw mark compared to subjects considered low-scaling. High-scaling subjects often include math extension, physics, chemistry, and certain languages such as Latin. These subjects are generally seen as more challenging and may attract students who excel academically.

Should you avoid doing ‘lower’ scaling subjects?

NO! Scaling exists to make subjects fairer. It wouldn't make sense to count a 90 in Maths extension the same as scoring a 90 in Maths standard because Maths extension is significantly more difficult and most students are struggling to pass. Hence scaling exists to encourage students to pursue academically challenging subjects without fear of hindering their ATAR. That being said, picking 'high scaling' subjects will not give you a higher ATAR. If you pick the subject just for its scaling, most often you will struggle with it and subsequently be left with a poor mark. You can achieve a top ATAR no matter which subject you pick so long as you excel in them. So pick subjects based on your strengths and passion!

HSC ATAR Scaling Report - How does NESA and UAC scaling work?
Curious about NESA and UAC HSc Scaling? This article goes through the ins and outs of HSC scaling and exactly how the ATAR works - keep reading to find out!

Want more personalized study guidance to help drastically improve your marks? A private tutor can make the biggest difference!

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