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How VCE works and how to study to get the best ATAR

how to do well in VCE

Posted On August 9, 2020

What is VCE curriculum and ATAR?

VCE stands for the Victorian Certificate of Education and is generally required to proceed to higher education. ATAR  is the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank and determines how likely you will be accepted into your course.

Most university courses have a guaranteed ATAR of acceptance and a minimum ATAR requirement which you need to achieve to be considered.

These scores change from year to year, but usually the ATAR required one year will be similar to the year prior. ATAR is a percentile score out of 100, where you are ranked against your peers. Your ATAR, in Melbourne, is determined by your collective study scores, which are scores out of 50 that you receive for every subject that you undertake.

How is ATAR calculated from your study scores

Your best 4 subjects contribute most of your ATAR, and 10% of your 5th and 6th best subjects is added to your total ATAR. It is therefore best to do a minimum of 6 VCE Unit 3 & 4 subjects. These can be spread out over 2 years.

Each subject places students into a normal distribution or bell curve. A bell curve is a mathematical distribution where the majority of students are placed at the average, in this case 30. It is important to note that very few students will get scores below 20 and above 40, as these lie significantly astray from 30, the average.

 It is important to note that regardless of the subject difficulty that year, there should be an equal proportion of students at all points throughout the bell curve.

vce bell curve

What is subject scaling?

Scaling is closely linked to subject difficulty. The harder the subject the more it will scale. Scaling can change year to year for a single subject, but usually not significantly. Moreover, the bell curve is tied closely with scaling, such that scaling affects students who achieve a 30 the most. Study scores at either extreme (low and high) are not as strongly affected by scaling.

SACs and Exam mark distribution

Study scores are determined by performance in SACs and Exams and potentially assignments/portfolio work. It is important to realise that in VCE, it doesn’t matter so much as to your actual SAC scores, but rather how you place among your class. If the whole class is doing poorly in SACs but do well in the Exams, then SAC scores will be scaled up.

The Exam is usually emphasised and so should be the focus of every student – however poor SAC rankings can be a major hurdle to overcome, even with a good exam score.


Need a Private Tutor?

If you need additional help with VCE in Melbourne, get in touch with Tutor Storm. We are a highly professional private tutoring company that can help you boost your ATAR!

Written by Vic
Melbourne based Private Tutor, Writer and Business Owner with a passion for teaching and helping students succeed in their academic endevours.
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