HSC Marks Moderation process - how internal marks get moderated

HSC marks moderation

Ever wondered how the 50% internal component of your final HSC result is calculated?

Throughout year 12, your internal school assessments count towards the HSC. These raw exam marks given by your school teachers are added up and sent in to the Board of Studies, along with your school ranks, for each subject. BOS will also have all the marks scored in the external exams by every student in your school. This "pool" of external raw examination marks will be assigned to the students for their internal component using a moderation algorithm. Basically, the top external mark is given to the internally highest ranked student, and every other student gets a mark in accordance with their rank (not necessarily corresponding to their rank) such that the mean of the moderated internal assessment marks is equal to the mean of the external raw exam marks.

The common understanding is that BOS uses the rank positions to assign corresponding external raw exam marks to students for their internal component. As per the above description of the process, this is not technically true (but gives a rough approximation of the actual marks received).


Example 1:

Suppose there are 3 students in the school with the following raw marks (internal and expernal).

StudentRaw internal assessment mark
Internal rank
Raw (external) exam mark
External rank
A 63/100 1 72/100 2
B 54/100 2 85/100 1
C 50/100 3 53/100 3

The moderated marks will be as follows:

Student Moderated internal assessment mark Internal rankRaw (external) exam markExternal rank
A 85/100 1 72/100 2
B ~65/100 2 85/100 1
C ~60/100 3 53/100 3

B and C will receive some sort of mark which allows the mean of the moderated marks to be the same as the mean of the raw external exam marks (i.e. 70/100). All students will always receive moderated marks in order of their rank, i.e. A gets the highest moderated mark and C gets the lowest, in accordance to their school ranks. However in this particular example, the distribution of the external raw exam marks are very different to the distribution of the internal exam marks that B and C's mark has been adjusted to fit the distribution of the internal school assessments. Specifically, because B scored only slightly better than C internally, he shouldn't automatically receive the 2nd highest external mark for his moderated mark (72/100) since this is significantly higher than the lowest external mark of 53/100. Doing so would be unfair to C. Therefore they would likely receive something close to the values shown in the table.

Example 2:

This example is sourced from the Board of Studies, so the numberwork should be accurate. Suppose there are 6 students, A to F with the following internal and external raw marks:

Student Raw internal assessment mark
Internal rank
Raw (external) exam mark
External rank
A 90/100 1 92/100 1
B 70/100 2 60/100 3
C 65/100 3 65/100 2
D 60/100 4 55/100 4
E 55/100 5 35/100 6
F 50/100 6 41/100 5
Mean 65   58  

This set of marks would result in the following moderated marks being awarded:

Student Moderated internal assessment mark Internal rank Raw (external) exam mark External rank
A 92/100 1 92/100 1
B 67/100 2 60/100 3
C 59/100 3 65/100 2
D 52/100 4 55/100 4
E 43/100 5 35/100 6
F 35/100 6 41/100 5
Mean 58   58  

The highest mark is given to the highest ranked student. All marks subsequent are assigned according to the distribution of the school assessment marks. As you can see, the moderated assessment mark given is very different to the raw exam marks scored by students in this school. However, the rank order of moderated marks is the same as the rank order in the internal assessment marks.

ATAR calculation

Each student would then have two marks, a raw exam mark from the externals, and a moderated raw assessment mark from internal assessments. For ATAR calculation, the average of these two marks is used, and is called the raw HSC mark. Please read the article on HSC scaling to understand more about ATAR calculation.

HSC marks calculation

On each student's record of achievement, they will receive 3 columns: an Examination Mark, an Assessment Mark, and a HSC Mark . The last column (HSC Mark) is just the average of the first two columns. The first two columns are actually aligned marks. These marks are derived from your raw external and internal marks described above. If you would like to know more, read our article on the HSC marks alignment process.

Further reading

Official explanation of HSC moderation process by Board of Studies

HSC Scaling and how it works

HSC Scaling statistics (including recent scaling reports and Tables published by the UAC)

HSC marks alignment process

Scaling and Subject selection (for those who need to choose subjects for year 11)

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