Good luck to the class of 2020!

Should I study Mathematics Advanced or Standard?

With the new syllabus, there are new rules regarding scaling for mathematics. Let's see how this affects you.

Changes to Mathematics scaling in 2020

Updated advice on 'common scaling' in HSC 2020:

A previous version of this note stated that a 'common scale' would be used for Mathematics in HSC 2020. This was based on a report published by NESA which stated a common scale would be introduced in part to "[disincentivise] capable students who deliberately choose easier courses for a perceived ATAR advantage". NESA has since published a clarification on this and has stated that whilst NESA will calculate and provide common scale information to UAC, it will not be reporting these scores on a common scale to students at this time. Please refer to the NESA clarification for more information.

What is scaling?

At its core, ATAR scaling is used to estimate what your marks would have been if all courses were taken by all students on the same scale.

Scaling helps account for the abilities of the students who take the course. It is not necessarily a proxy for the difficulty of the course. It does so by comparing how students in the course score in all their other courses.

A course consisting mainly of students who perform very well in all other courses would generally scale well. However, a high performing student undertaking a course which scales lower in the previous year will not necessarily be affected by poor scaling. All courses are rescaled each year based on the performance and ability of that year's cohort.

In effect, this encourages students to undertake courses best suited to them while not necessarily penalising students based on the course's perceived difficulty.

Scaled marks and aggregates

A scaled mark is calculated based on the scaling algorithm used by UAC. The scaled mark is calculated out of 50, representing the mark UAC estimates you would have got if all students in the cohort undertook the course.

The 2 unit English courses are always counted into aggregate, plus the 8 highest scaled marks apart from 2 Unit English. Courses which are 2 units will contribute double its value in scaled marks to the aggregate.

Previous version of this note

You can't play the system anymore

From HSC 2020, NESA will begin reporting HSC marks for Mathematics Standard and Mathematics Advanced on a common scale. This change was introduced by NESA in part to "[disincentivise] capable students who deliberately choose easier courses for a perceived ATAR advantage".

This change means that HSC students of comparable quality from previous years may not achieve similar HSC marks when being assessed on the common Mathematics scale.

How does this affect ATAR and ATAR scaling?

Rather than UAC determining the relative scaling, NESA is taking this into account within the HSC mark itself. Under the new common scale, a student scoring a HSC mark of 70 in Mathematics Standard is intended to be directly comparable in mathematical ability to a student scoring a HSC mark of 70 in Mathematics Advanced. Because of this, UAC will combine both Mathematics course and scale it as a single course.

Should I study Mathematics Advanced or Standard?

The relative scaling between Mathematics Standard and Mathematics Advanced is now only determined by the cohort's performance in the common sections of the Mathematics exam, rather than the cohort's overall performance in all other courses. Due to a range of factors, the performance of Mathematics Advanced students in the common exam sections will likely be significantly better than those studying Mathematics Standard. For example, students who study extension Mathematics courses are required to study Mathematics Advanced as a prerequisite. This means students who are capable of studying Mathematics Advanced should avoid studying Mathematics Standard as it risks placing them at a disadvantage on the common scale.

TLDR - don't do Standard if you are capable of doing Advanced.