BlogStudyQLD Subject Scaling: Which Subjects Scale the Best from QCAA?

QLD Subject Scaling: Which Subjects Scale the Best from QCAA?

Library - ATAR Subject Scaling QLD

So, you have to choose your subjects for your final years of school, or maybe you’re nearing external exams, and are curious about QCAA subject scaling for your ATAR in QLD. If this sounds like you, then you have come to the right place!

Before we dive in, it’s important not to pay too much attention to how your subjects scale. Scaling changes year-to-year and is entirely dependent upon the performance of your cohort.

If you are in the process of choosing your Year 11 and 12 subjects, there are other factors that are much more important. 

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2020 QCAA Scaling Report
2021 QCAA Scaling Report 
2022 QCAA Scaling Report 
QLD Subject Scaling in 2021 VS 2022
Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Scaling
How should you choose your subjects?

2020 QCAA Scaling Report

If we have a look through the scaling report for 2020, the first year of ATAR in Queensland, we can find lots of information on how each of the QCE subjects scale. The “Why?” and the “How?” for this scaling is also briefly discussed.

If you are wanting answers for these questions then I’d recommend that you check out the following article, which explains the process of inter-subject scaling: Everything You Need to Know About the QCE and ATAR

It is important to note that data is not collected for subjects completed by less than 50 students. These subjects are primarily languages such as Arabic, Chinese Extension, Latin, and Russian, but also include subjects such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and Music Extension (Musicology). 

Below is a table of the top 15 best scaling subjects in the QCE for 2020:

1Specialist Mathematics
2Mathematical Methods
8Study of Religion
9English as an Additional Language
13Modern History
15English and Literature Extension

Now, you may be surprised to see some of these subjects in this table. For example, most people wouldn’t expect subjects like Geography and Modern History to be in the top 15 and I certainly wouldn’t have expected Study of Religion to take out the number 8th spot. 

It goes to show how unexpected scaling can be sometimes — as it is entirely dependent on how well your cohort performs throughout the year!

Curious about your school’s past ATAR results? Check out the top Girls, Boys, and Co-ed Schools in Brisbane based on ATAR performance!

2021 QCAA Scaling Report 

It is super important to keep in mind that scaling will change from year-to-year, and while you may see some common subjects in the top 15, this may not always be the case.

You can find the 2021 scaling report here!

Below is a table containing the top 15 best scaling subjects in the QCE for 2021:

1Specialist Mathematics
2Mathematical Methods
10Philosophy and Reason
11English as an Additional Language
12Study of Religion
15German Extension

Now, maybe some things here surprised you… I sure was surprised that Physics didn’t scale better in 2021. 

2022 QCAA Scaling Report 

If we look at the latest scaling report, we can see that again, there have been some changes in which subjects scaled best.

You can find the 2022 scaling report here!

Below is a table containing the top 15 best scaling subjects in the QCE for 2022:

1Specialist Mathematics
5Mathematical Methods
9English & Literature Extension
13Philosophy & Reason
15Study of Religion

In 2022, Languages were all right up there below Specialist, and in front of the sciences and methods!

QLD Subject Scaling from 2020 to 2022 - top subjects

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QLD Subject Scaling in 2021 VS 2022 for Your ATAR


The following subjects have remained in the top 10 each year:

  • Maths Methods
  • Engineering
  • Economics
  • Languages
  • Specialist Maths has been shown to consistently scale the highest out of all subjects
  • Geography didn’t make the cut in 2022
  • English as an Additional Language didn’t make the cut in 2022
  • Languages trumped other traditionally strong subjects
  • German Extension didn’t make the cut in 2022
  • There were lots of variation between how subjects scaled within the top 15 in 2021 compared to 2022

What’s the key takeaway?

Scaling will change from year-to-year in QLD and you won’t necessarily get the best ATAR from simply choosing subjects that have scaled well across the years. 

Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Scaling

As you have probably concluded by now, choosing your subjects based on scaling isn’t a good idea. This is because you aren’t guaranteed that a subject will continue to scale well one year because it scaled well the last year.

Even if a subject that you take scales well, you still have to do well in it to get a high ATAR (if that is your goal).

For example, if you take Specialist, Methods, Engineering, and Economics as four of your subjects, because they consistently scaled in the top 4 two years in a row, you won’t automatically get a top ATAR and top subject results just because you took the subjects.

You still have to work hard and perform well in those subjects. How you will scale in them depends on how well you do relative to all of the students in Queensland who are also taking the subject!

How should you choose your subjects?

Now, you may be wondering, if I’m not to focus on scaling when choosing my Year 11 and 12 subjects, what should I focus on?

That is a completely valid question and deciding what subjects you want to take for two years is quite the task (and a challenging one at that).

Some students know instantly what subjects they want to take and have maybe had their mind made up for a few years, other students may want to ponder a little longer — which is perfectly okay as well. 

Find out if dropping a QCE subject for Year 12 is the right choice for you!

In a recent article, I wrote about key factors you should consider when choosing your QCE subjects. And, as you could probably guess by now, scaling wasn’t one of them.

Rather, what I discuss is choosing subjects based on your post-school goals, as well as choosing subjects that you will find enjoyable and engaging and will be good at. So, essentially you should consider three things:

What do I want to do after school?

If you want to go to university, then check out the prerequisite subjects for your courses. If you want to do a trade, then maybe consider some certificates

What do you enjoy?

So, thinking back to all of the subjects you took in school… which ones did you despise? Okay, once you’ve got a list in your mind, don’t choose those (unless you absolutely must for some reason, for example taking an English subject is required for an ATAR).

Maybe have a look at the syllabi for all the potential subjects you can take and see what looks interesting to you.

For example, if you don’t enjoy Mathematics, then you shouldn’t study Specialist just because it typically scales well. If you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t study for it.

What subjects are you good at?

Now, if you are aiming for a high ATAR then choosing subjects that you will be good at is a good way to go. Further, if you are good at something, and your grades reflect that, then you are more likely to stay motivated during your QCE. 

Struggling your way through Maths Methods? Here’s how to decide whether to drop down to General Maths or not!

Looking for other QCAA resources?

Check out some of our other articles related to QCAA below:

Wondering which schools in Brisbane are best? Wonder no more with our Ultimate Brisbane ATAR School Ranking List!

Are you looking for some extra help with navigating QCAA subject scaling for your ATAR in QLD?

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Katelyn Smith was a pioneer in the Queensland ATAR system. After graduating in 2020 with an ATAR of 98.40, she now studies a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) at The University of Queensland — majoring in Physics. Through her studies, she hopes to develop a greater appreciation for how the wonders of the universe work. When she isn’t slaving away behind her unnecessarily large textbooks, she enjoys catching up with friends, scrolling mindlessly through TikTok, and sleeping.

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