VCE scaling report 2023 - how to use the 2022 report to prepare for this year's ATAR

Interested in how your subject could potentially scale? This report dives deep into how scaling impacts different VCE subjects, keep reading to find out!

17 days ago   •   9 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Fa Barboza / Unsplash

VCAA’s new scaling report is out! Let’s break down how scaling has impacted different VCE subjects.

Wait…what is scaling anyway?

Scaling isn’t directly related to how difficult a subject is or which one requires more work. It is based on how competitive it is to get a high score in a particular subject. Essentially, the subjects that scale up are taken by students who tend to do well in other subjects.

For example, it is more difficult to be in the top 9% in Specialist Maths and achieve a raw 40 than in Further Maths because the people who do this subject would generally do well in their other subjects. If you are curious to know more about how scaling works, I recommend reading this blog breaks down the ATAR

Of course, scaling should not be the only factor you consider before choosing a subject but it can sure help boost your ATAR at times. My lowest raw study score ended up being my highest scaled score out of all my subjects. I’d say scaling should play a part in your decision-making when it comes to subjects but it should be coupled with other factors like resource availability, pre-requisites, your school’s past performance, personal talents, time commitment, required effort and of course, enjoyment!

Just remember that scaling exists for a reason and that is to make VCE fair for all students no matter the subjects they take. So don’t think of scaling as free bonus points but rather as compensation from VCAA due to it being much more difficult for you to get a high raw score. The same goes for subjects that scale down-it is not a penalty just a way to make VCE fair!

The VCE Scaling Report 2019 breaks down the process of how understanding the information in the scaling report. Also, if you want to play around with predicting your ATAR score with scaling already calculated for you, the KIS VCE ATAR Calculator is an amazing resource to use.

Maths subjects

As someone who has taken all three VCE maths, I feel the scaling is justified based on how difficult the exams are.

Further Maths:

Many assume Further scales down by a lot more than it does. In 2022, a raw 45 would have scaled to a 44, a raw 40 to a 38, a raw 35 to a 33, and a raw 30 to a 27. Generally, it only scales down by 1-3 points.

Maths Methods:

Methods get scaled quite generously- an extra 4-5 points! This is also one of the few subjects that go slightly above 50 which for 2022 was a study score of 51 being the highest you could get. A raw 40 translated to a scaled 45 and a natural 45 to a scaled 49.

Specialist Maths:

Specialist Maths has a reputation for being one of the most generous subjects in terms of scaling and in 2022, a maximum of 12 extra points was up for grabs. A raw 35 went all the way to a 47 and a raw 40 went to a 51. Someone who got a raw 50 would have gotten a whopping 55 scaled! Being the hardest of the three maths in terms of the difficulty of the questions and the challenging concepts that needed to be understood, I feel that the scaling is justified here.

English subjects

English:

English is the most popular VCE subject and interestingly it scales down by around 1-2 points. Though in 2022, a raw 45 and up would have stayed the same with no scaling. A raw 40 went to a scaled 39 and a raw 35 went to a scaled 34.

English Language:

This subject tends to scale up by 2 points so a raw 40 went to a raw 42. So if English or Literature isn’t your thing, English Language is worth a shot!

Literature:

1-2 extra points were added for this subject in 2022 which is a lot less than what people think as it is often seen to be much more complicated than English.

Science subjects

Most of the science subjects don’t scale down but generally, the scaling that occurs is around 1-4 points.

Biology:

Surprisingly, Biology stays pretty much the same but if you got a raw 35+ then you would expect to have 1 extra scaling point.

Physics:

Physics scales up slightly more than biology as one would expect about 2 scaling points.

Chemistry:

This is the highest-scaling science subject. It is also a prerequisite for some courses in particular medicine and so a lot of high-achieving students tend to take it. This means that it can be slightly more difficult to get a high raw score which is the reason Chemistry scales pretty highly. The scaling was up to 4 extra points in 2022.

Psychology:

For scores over 45, there was no scaling in 2022 meaning these raw scores were the same as your ‘scaled’ scores. However, raw scores under 45 would be expected to scale down by 1-2 points.

Commerce subjects

Accounting:

The scaling for this subject tends to be the same each year. Study scores are usually scaled up by 1 point.

Business management:

In 2022, scaling was quite harsh for business as one could get scaled down by up to 4 points. The good news is that scores in the higher range - being around a raw 45 - tended to only get scaled down by 1 point.

Scaling was minimal for legal studies. In 2022, a raw 45+ stayed the same, a raw 40 went to a scaled 38, a raw 35 to a 34, and a raw 30 to a 28. Generally, it only scales down by 1-2 points.

Economics:

This is the subject that often has a reputation for being the most difficult commerce subject! Seems only fair that it receives the highest scaling in its subject area. Economics scaled up to 2 points in 2022.

Humanities

Politics:

For both Australian and Global Politics, the 2022 scaling report shows that they generally scaled up. 1-3 points were generally added to make a scaled study score. A raw 35 in Global politics went to a scaled 38!

Geography:

Raw scores between 30 and 45 tended to only scale down by 1 whilst scores below 30 scaled down by 2. Anything over 45 stayed the same.

History:

Ancient History, Australian History, and Revolutions tended to scale in almost the same way. For Ancient History and Revolutions, scores over 30 tended to scale down 0-2 points. For Australian History, scores below 40 tended to scale down by 1 point and scores between 40-44 stayed the same. Interestingly, scores above 45 scaled up by 1 point.

Visual Arts

Studio Arts:

A favourite for art students! This subject sadly scaled down to a maximum of 5 points. However, those who did quite well didn’t suffer from too much negative scaling. A raw 45 went to a scaled 44 and a raw 40 went to a scaled 38.

Visual Communication Design:

This subject was very similar to the scaling for studio art though it scaled down to a maximum of 4 points.

Media:

Again, this subject is almost identical to Visual Communication Design. Media scaled down by a maximum of 4 points.

Other subjects

Health:

Unfortunately, Health scales down quite a bit with it being possible to have scaled down up to 5 points! This tends to happen every year and yet HHD remains one of the most popular subjects.

Physical education:

In 2022, this subject scaled down by 1-3 points but higher scores tended to stay the same.

And the highest scaling subject for 2022 was…drumroll...

Latin! In 2022 a raw 30 went all the way up to a scaled score of 46. That’s 16 extra points! This was followed by a few other LOTE subjects including Hebrew, French, Chinese SL, and Korean SL. Generally, most of the LOTE subjects scale very highly so if you are already studying a particular language, you should consider taking it as a VCE subject. Specialist Maths, Maths Methods, Chemistry, and Algorithms were also some of the highest-scaling non-language subjects.

So…should I do subjects that scale down?

Well yes and no. It’s important to note that the subjects that scale down are the ones that are easier to do well in compared to others. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do them. If you are tossing up between a subject that scales down and one that scales up then I would do some more reflecting.

Ask yourself these questions about the subject that scales down:

Am I already good at this subject or am I confident that I can be good?

Do I enjoy this subject more than the subject that scales up?

Do I have access to enough resources for this subject?

Do I need to spend significantly less time and effort studying?

Is it a prerequisite that I must do for the course I want to get into?

If you still can’t make a decision, it is helpful to ask past students who have done the subject (ideally from your school) about their experience so you can have a better idea of which one might be better for you. You could even ask them if scaling impacted their desired score by more than they expected.

Though I would say there is one exception to this process. If you are gifted at mathematics, I would say that Specialist Mathematics is a subject to consider. In 2022, a raw 35 scaled to a 47. The same goes for those who are gifted in a particular language- a raw 35 in French scaled to a 45.

However, if you are doing a subject for enjoyment and don’t mind the scaling (maybe you want it to be one of your bottom 2 subjects) then go for it! Having too many high-scaling subjects which can generally be viewed as ‘hard’ may lead to burnout anyway so this is a great strategy to try.

Do the 50s scale down?

Nope! A 50 in any subject will never scale down and for some subjects, you can get scaled above 50 too. So, someone who got a 50 in Food Studies or Studio Arts – being subjects that usually scale down- will stay as a 50 just like someone who got a 50 in Chemistry-being the highest scaling science subject. Even raw 45s don’t get scaled down too severely. The main takeaway from this is that if you feel you are strong in a subject that scales down, do it anyway! You will probably do better in a low-scaling subject you love and are good at than if you did a high-scaling subject you hate and aren’t too great at.

How hard is it to get a 50? What about a 45 or 40?

This entirely depends on your work ethic and how good you are at the subject. Though sometimes, it can come down to luck on the end-of-year exam. A raw 40 means that you are in the top 9%. Essentially, you have performed better than 91% of the students who have taken that subject. A raw 45 means you are in the top 2% and a raw 50 means you are in the top 0.3%.

Ok…this probably sounds terrifying but it’s important to know that these are just numbers that you have no control over. All you can do is your best and believe that you are capable of getting your dream score. This information, however, may be useful when you are choosing between subjects.

If you are aiming for those high study scores, you have to be one of the best students in the subject across the whole state. That is not easy to do which is why KIS has prepared Online Courses for some of the most popular subjects which I recommend having a look at!

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQ)

Do the 50s scale down?

Nope! A 50 in any subject will never scale down and for some subjects, you can get scaled above 50 too. So, someone who got a 50 in Food Studies or Studio Arts – being subjects that usually scale down- will stay as a 50 just like someone who got a 50 in Chemistry-being the highest scaling science subject.

Should I do subjects that scale down?

Well yes and no. It’s important to note that the subjects that scale down are the ones that are easier to do well in compared to others. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do them. If you are tossing up between a subject that scales down and one that scales up then I would do some more reflecting.

How much does Maths Methods scale by?

Methods get scaled quite generously- an extra 4-5 points! This is also one of the few subjects that go slightly above 50 which for 2022 was a study score of 51 being the highest you could get. A raw 40 translated to a scaled 45 and a natural 45 to a scaled 49.


Written by KIS Academics Tutor for VCE Maths, Chemistry, and Accounting Krishitha Gopalakrishnan. Krishitha is currently studying Medicine at Monash University. You can view Krishitha profile and request her as a tutor.

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