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VCE study scores: understanding raw and scaled scores

What is a VCE study score?

VCE study scores are used as part of the calculation of your ATAR. You receive a study score for each VCE subject that you complete. The confusing thing is, it’s not actually a score, it’s a ranking that shows how you’ve performed in a subject compared to everyone else in Victoria who was enrolled in that same subject in the same year.

To get a study score for a subject you generally need to complete units 3 and 4 consecutively in the same year.

There are two versions of a study score: a raw score and a scaled score.

What is a raw score?

To test how competent you are in each unit 3 and 4 subject you’ll complete three graded assessment tasks (with the exception of VCE VET subjects which have only two assessment tasks).

You’ll undertake two School Assessed Coursework assessments (SACs) and a final assessment which is usually an externally assessed final exam. The marks from these three assessments are used to calculate your raw study score for each VCE subject.

This raw study score will be a number between 0 and 50. Remember, it’s not a score out of 50 – it’s a calculation of where your performance in the subject ranks in comparison to all of the other students who studied the same subject that year. Picture a bell curve where the median score is 30.

If you get a raw study score of 30 it means you have performed better than half of all students who took the same subject that year. A raw study score of 40 would mean that you performed better than around 91% of all students who took the same subject. A raw study score of 50 means that you performed in the top 0.3% of students enrolled in the subject.

It can be helpful to think about how many people you would have to do better than to achieve a particular ranking i.e. if 1000 people take the subject, only three people would be awarded a study score of 50 in that area of study.

What is a scaled study score?

In order for your study scores to be added together to make up your ATAR, your raw study scores need to be scaled up or down by VTAC. A scaled study score takes into account the different levels of competition in different study areas, measured by how well the students in that subject performed in other subjects. In general, maths and science subjects are scaled up and arts subjects are scaled down. English and business subjects will usually remain the same.

There is a misconception that this scaling is based on how difficult the subject is but, in general, subjects are designed to offer the same level of challenge. The scaling is actually based on how strong the competition in the subject is.

The exception to this rule are mathematics and languages, which have additional scaling in order to ensure that students taking more difficult subjects, like specialist maths, aren’t disadvantaged.

How important are study scores?

Study scores are important because they reflect how you performed in your subjects. Also, they are used to create your ATAR which might help you get into the further study option of your choice. This said, each study score represents how you performed in a subject at one point in time – many different factors play into your success. If you haven’t done as well as you would like, this is just one small part of your life.

How can I estimate what my study scores will be?

Once you know your marks for your three assessments, Deakin’s study score calculator can provide you with an estimate on your raw and scaled study scores based on last year’s grade distribution data. These study scores are estimates rather than accurate predictions – assessment results vary every year.

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