How the ATAR works

Understand your State's curriculum so you can perform at your best

How does the ATAR work across Australian States?

What is the ATAR?

The ATAR, or Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, plays a vital role in the lives of many Australian high school students. It is used to assess and admit students into various degree programs.

The way the ATAR is calculated can vary significantly. However, the ATAR score is always a number between 0.00 and 99.95, measured in increments of 0.05. The highest possible score is 99.95, with the next highest being 99.90, and so on. It is important to note that the ATAR is a rank and not a mark out of 100.

In simple terms, the ATAR is a ranking system that measures a student's academic performance compared to their peers across the state. The higher the ATAR score, the more competitive and sought-after the university degree.

The most common curriculums in Australia are:

  • The HSC - used by schools in Sydney and NSW
  • The VCE - used by schools in Melbourne and VIC
  • The QCE ATAR - used by schools in Brisbane and QLD
  • The SACE and NTCET- used by schools in Adelaide and SA, as well as Darwin and NT
  • The WACE ATAR - used by schools in Perth and WA
  • The IB - an International Baccalaureate only offered by some schools, but recognised internationally

If a student receives an ATAR of, for instance, 75.00, it means that they are in the top 25% of their cohort in their state. This ranking can determine a student's eligibility to gain admission into certain university degrees.

Universities typically set a minimum ATAR or a "cut-off" score for their courses. The minimum ATAR score can be converted into a "Selection Rank" by universities, which includes the ATAR plus any relevant adjustment factors. These adjustment factors may depend on different factors such as high performance in relevant Year 12 subjects, your socioeconomic status, geographic location, or certain special circumstances.

What is the ATAR used for?

The ATAR is used by universities across Australia, providing a measure to accept a certain number of students into courses with the appropriate ‘cut-off’ or ‘minimum’ ATAR.

Some states have an Education Access Scheme (EAS), which takes into account the adjustment factors to provide a fair and equitable admission process for disadvantaged or underprivileged students. The EAS considers factors such as financial hardship, living or attending school in a particular area, and athletic achievements.

We know all of this ATAR informatioon can seem extremely confusing and daunting but it is important that you trust the process and do all you can too learn and understand it!

Make sure to learn as much as you can about how the ATAR works in your state and use it to your advantage when choosing subjects, preferencing universities and choosing tutors.

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