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Your Ultimate Guide to Understanding the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)

3 Min Read
August 13, 2023

Are you a high school student caught in the whirlwind of grades, comparisons, and university dreams? It's time to unravel the mystery of the ATAR – your golden ticket to the future you envision. In this journey, we'll break it all down, because understanding the ATAR isn't just about numbers; it's about shaping your aspirations and carving your path to success.

What is the ATAR?

The ATAR isn't just a simple grade – it's a ranking that tells you where you stand among other students your age.

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is a number between 0.00 and 99.95. It shows how you compare to all the other 16 to 20-year-olds in your area (like all high school students in NSW). So, if you have an ATAR of 80.00, it means you're in the top 20% of your age group, not just your Year 12 classmates.

Why does this matter? Well, universities use the ATAR to decide who gets into their courses. Your ATAR, combined with any adjustments that apply, becomes your selection rank. Keep in mind, though, that universities often consider more than just your ATAR when picking students (like personal statements, portfolios, or interviews).

Average Scores for ATAR

The average ATAR hovers around 70.00. If every student stayed in school and achieved an ATAR, the average would be 50.00. But because only the academically inclined stay on, the average ATAR tends to be higher.

Oh, and here's an interesting bit: ATARs are calculated differently in each state to reflect local rankings. In NSW, UAC does the calculation and releasing. In the ACT, it's the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies, with input from UAC, and schools release it. But don't worry, an ATAR of 85.00 in NSW or the ACT is the same as an 85.00 in other states.

How is the ATAR used?

Universities each decide on a minimum rank needed to get accepted into their courses. This is considered the most fair way to compare students. Since it's recognized all across the country, many universities use it as the main factor for deciding who gets in.

This basically means that ATARs show how many people want to study a certain thing more than how smart you have to be to do it.

How is the ATAR calculater?

Your ATAR depends on how well you rank in your classes, your actual marks in the Higher School Certificate (HSC), and how you perform on different assignments for the subjects you pick. The subjects are adjusted based on how hard they are and what skills they need.

Check out our video that explains how the ATAR is calculated, what adjusting means, and how that affects your marks.

What's important about choosing subjects and the ATAR?

To make sure you're on track for an ATAR, 8 out of 10 of your subjects should be from the Board Developed Category.

No subject can promise you a super high ATAR, and none can make your ATAR really low. Our advice is to start by thinking about what you like and what motivates you. Look into what you might want to study and take note of what high school classes you need for those courses.

In the intricate tapestry of your educational journey, the ATAR stands as a guiding star, illuminating the path toward your aspirations. You've embarked on a quest to decode its complexity, diving deep into its significance, calculation, and impact. Armed with this newfound knowledge, you're now equipped to make informed decisions that will shape your future.

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