If you’re a current or future VCE student, chances are you’ve heard about scaling. Scaling can play a big role in determining your overall result, so it can be super helpful to understand the recent stats around subject scaling. You can also use a study score calculator to see the scaled subject results from your estimated study scores. We’ve broken down all the major 2021 results to give you the main information you need to know!
Wait so, what is scaled scoring?
Scaling can seem confusing and even unfair at times. Here's a quick note on how the ATAR works. Note that it isn’t a measure of how difficult or how much work a subject is, but rather how competitive it is. If a subject scales highly, it doesn’t inherently mean it is harder. Rather, it means that the students doing the subject tended to do really well in other subjects, the vce ranking of subjects is dependant on the previous year's performance. For a more detailed explanation of the full mechanisms behind subject scaling, check out our blog post that breaks down the ATAR.
Before we begin, a frequently asked question is: what vce subjects should I do? It can be tempting to choose all the high-scaling vce subjects in the hope that this will maximise your ATAR. This isn’t always the case. Choosing the subjects you enjoy and excel at will often yield the best exam scores, regardless of scaling! It’s best to use this report to help you know what to expect when your exam scores and sac scores come out at the end of the year, rather than as a subject guide. If you need an ATAR predictor/atar calculator, a great tool you can use is the KIS VCE ATAR Calculator, which you can access here. Simply enter your estimated raw scores, and it'll churn out your scaled subject results and predicted ATAR!
As always, the best recommendation we can make in terms of choosing subjects is to pick ones you enjoy and then study hard to maximise your final exam scores and sac scores throughout the year. Achieving a great score in your final exam is the best way to ensure you get the highest raw study scores, regardless of scale.
Highest Scaling Subjects:
Latin has traditionally had very high scaling, and last year was no exception. A 30 study score would be boosted to a whopping 46, and just a raw score of 35 netted you a scaled score of 50!
Specialist Maths was the second-highest scaled subject, but more on that later.
Other languages, like Chinese Second Language (VCE chinese SL) Hebrew and French also scaled to above 40, although their scaling tends to vary more than other subjects. Hebrew, for example, scaled up by as much as 14 just a couple of years ago, but a 30 last year only increased to 41 (still nothing to sneeze at!).
Lowest Scaling Subjects:
Several subjects were heavily scaled down last year. If you got a raw study score of 30 in Food Studies, Agricultural and Horticultural Studies, or Product Design and Technology, it would be reduced to just 23. The VCE art exam is another example of a low-scaling subject.
- English is the most popular VCE subject. It has consistently scaled down by roughly 2 points, and the same trend occurred this year. The exam score required to ensure you don't get scaled down is a 45+ study score!
- On the other hand, Literature scales up by 1-2 points. A 30 score increased to a 31, and 35 would go up even higher to a 37! Literature scaling has been slightly higher in recent years, so some Lit students will be hoping this trend continues.
- English Language was the highest-scaling English subject last year. A 30 score last year turned into a 33.
- Further Maths usually scales down by 2-3, and 2021 was no different. Although higher scores were generally less affected, virtually all study scores were decreased by some amount. Even a high score of 45 was reduced by 1.
- Maths Methods scaled up well by 4 to 5 points. A 30 study score went to a 34, and even a 40 was marked up to a 45! It was one of the few subjects that scale above 50 - a perfect raw score of 50 became a 51. If you want to ace Maths, here's a quick breakdown.
- Specialist Maths is always one of the highest-scaling subjects, but in 2021 an average score of 30 was raised by an incredible 12 points! This is the greatest raw school assessment mark increase since 2014. A 35 was increased to 47, while a score of 40 was brought up to 51. An interesting quirk is that higher scores here tended to equalise. A 45 raw was transformed to a 54, while a perfect 50 was scaled to 55, meaning any Specialist score in the high 40s contributed virtually the same amount to your aggregate after scaling. Hence, your school assessment marks are highly dependent on the subject scaling.
- Biology tends to be unaffected by scaling. A 30 score will usually remain around a 30, although some higher scores were scaled up by 1. This was exactly what happened in 2021.
- Chemistry is the highest-scaling science subject thanks to its competitive cohort. Last year, most scores scaled up by a generous 4 points! A median score of 30 rose to 34.
- Physics also scales up, though not as much as Chemistry. Scores were consistently raised by 2 last year. This is slightly lower than a couple of years ago when some scores were raised by 3.
- Psychology is the only science subject to be scaled down - sorry Psych kids! A 30 turned into a 28 last year. However, there has been a slight improvement in recent times, with scores from the mid-30s onwards only scaling down by around 1.
- Business Management is one of the most popular subjects to study in VCE. Unfortunately, its scores usually take a hit from scaling. A median score of 30 decreased to 26, down from the 27 that would have been received in 2020.
- Physical Education also scaled down by two or three, with a 30 going to a 27, and a 35 reduced to 33. This scaling has been consistent for the past 2 years.
- Health and Human Development are one of the most popular subjects out there, but also one of the most scaled down. In 2021, a raw 30 became 26, a raw 35 dropped to 31, and even a raw 40 still decreased to 37. This trend has remained the same for at least the past 6 years!
- Legal Studies is also another stable subject. As in previous years, scores were generally scaled down by 2, with only scores above 40 mostly unaffected.
If we haven’t covered your subject, or you’d like to study VCAA’s official scaling report in greater depth, it can be found here. To learn how to read this scaling report (it can look pretty overwhelming at first!), read our past blog post here.
The VCAA website is super useful for learning more about any subject-related queries for example if you're wondering about the "Business Management grade distribution for 2021" - VCAA is loaded with useful info!
Furthermore, VCAA also has a tonne of practice exams you could do, for example, if you're looking for the VCAA 2021 methods exam 1 - it all available on VCAA.
But don't forget about the GAT test - it's also an important test to take as it works as a safety net. Learn more about it here.
If you'd like a tutor to help out with your VCE, explore our talented VCE tutors.
If you're interested in historical atar scaling data:
Check out the overview of VCE Scaling in 2020.
Check out the overview of VCE Scaling in 2019.
You can also predict what your ATAR will be with our study score calculator.
Written by KIS Academics Tutor for VCE Maths and Chemistry, Daniil McIntyre. Daniil is currently studying a Bachelor of Science (Climate/Weather) at the University of Melbourne and has been tutoring at KIS Academics for 3 years. You can view Daniil's profile and request him as a tutor.