Scaling is a mathematical process that allows SATAC to compare the overall performance of students in every possible combination of SACE subjects.

The data produced by scaling shows us how scores in one subject relate to scores in other subjects.

We can use this information to adjust or ‘scale’ subject scores to enable fair and accurate comparisons of overall performance.

Why do we need scaling?

Some courses are competitive, and when selecting students for a place, the institutions need to compare the overall performance of applicants who are applying for the same course.

For every SACE subject you get an overall grade (A+ to E-) which tells us how well you performed compared to other students in that same subject.

Your overall grade for one subject doesn’t tell us anything about your performance compared to students in other subjects.

SACE subjects are different, and students have different abilities, so we use scaling to make fair comparisons between the different subjects possible.

How scaling works

Scaling adjusts the raw scores of a subject. Raw scores are the results of the individual assessment components of each subject.

For example, say you have a raw score of 10.4 in Biology. This tells us where you sit in relation to other Biology students. It does not allow us to compare your performance in Biology with students who completed different subjects to you.

By applying scaling to your raw scores in Biology, we can fairly compare your achievement in this subject to the achievement of another student in Modern History, or English, or Mathematics, and so on.

Scaling is not…

  • A measure of your individual performance in a subject. Your overall grade tells you how you performed in that subject. Scaling is about comparing overall performance in all SACE subjects.
  • Easy to predict! We don’t scale subjects; we scale subject scores. So scaling can vary each year depending on the strengths of the students in that year group.
  • A tool to base subject choice on. You should instead focus on what you’re good at! You won’t get a better ATAR by picking subjects you think will get scaled up, or avoiding those you think will get scaled down.

Your achievement in each of your SACE/NTECT Stage 2 subjects is expressed as a grade in the range A+ to E-, and behind these grades are results for each of the assessment types of each subject. To create scaled scores for the subjects that you attempt using these results, two things need to happen: 

  • these results need to be converted into a numeric equivalent (called a raw score); and 
  • these numeric equivalents need to be made comparable through a process called scaling.

Your overall subject grade is not used to create a raw score. Instead, the A+ to E- grades for your achievements in each of the school assessed components of a subject are used, as well as the numeric result of the externally assessed component (e.g. examination, investigation).

Raw scores are on a scale of 0 – 15.0 with a decimal place. Where a subject has a school assessed component of 70%, its contribution to the raw score is out of 10.5 (70%) and therefore the externally assessed contribution is out of 4.5 (30%).

For more information on how a raw score is calculated read our fact sheet below.

Calculating the raw score for scaling (393kb PDF)