Brief Introduction of Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)
Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is a percentile ranking used by local universities admission as an indication of a student’s suitability for study at university undergraduate level. It also allows universities to select and decide an appropriate number of students for each course. The ATAR is a ranking of a student (with a range from 30.00 to 99.95 with 99.95 being the highest. Anything less than 30.00 will only be reported as “less than 30”) relative to the full age cohort.
The average ATAR score each year is around 70. This is because the ATAR ranks students against anyone who was eligible to complete Year 12 that year; this includes students who finished school early or have chosen to do unscored subjects.
It is also important to know that the ATAR can only be calculated state-wide because each state has their own education systems and therefore has their own way to rank students. Take New South Wales (NSW) for example, it uses the HSC system, Victoria on the other hand uses the VCE system based around subject scores.
How is your ATAR calculated?
The ATAR score is deduced from a single aggregate score that consists of English and three other highest scoring subjects that a student has completed at a year 12 standard. However, if the student has chosen to study further subjects (such as university-level courses for high academic achievers), 10% of the sum of two subjects may be added as the lowest two contributing scores.
Nevertheless, the maximum number of subjects that is allowed in the calculation of the aggregate score is six (four subjects contributing their full amount and the last two contributing only 10% of their respective score). Additional subjects completed in excess to the maximum of six will re-order the final scores used in determining the ATAR scores in such a way that the lowest scores beyond the six will be ignored completely.
In NSW, HSC courses that can be used towards ATAR calculation are those developed by NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). These courses are classified as either Category A or Category B courses.
Courses that are classified as Category A are those that are deemed as academic rigour, in depth and contributes to assumed knowledge for tertiary studies, and the coherence with other courses included in the ATAR calculations.
On the other hand, Category B courses are subjects in which the level of cognitive and performance demands are not considered as satisfactory in themselves, regardless if the contribution of the courses to a selection index is acceptable or if the other courses included in the aggregate are more academically demanding.
Why is There an ATAR Score Scaling?
Given the discrepancy of difficulty and competition between the wide ranges of subjects offered as part of secondary school education in each state in Australia ATAR scaling is then used to promote fairness. It is important to take note that the scaled marks are not reported to students.
Realistically speaking, there are high ATAR achievers within all subject groups, as such trying to take advantage of the system by selecting highly scaled subjects, (e.g based on historical data, Chemistry and Physics scale slightly higher than Biology while Economics scales better than Legal Studies and Business Studies) can lead to great disappointment, especially if studying those subjects feels like “stretching your muscle too much”.
However, we were made aware that many students spend too much time worrying about how a subject will scale in their upcoming exam. The fact is that you have no control over how the university admission will scale a subject in your given HSC, SACE, VCE or WACE year.
Why does having a high ATAR matter?
For high school students planning to pursue undergraduate level studies, a higher ATAR gives you an upper hand of getting offers from your preferred universities and also the course you wish to gain admission to.
As far as high ATAR is concerned, we believe our online tutors can be extremely helpful. Together with an online tool like an ATAR calculator, it can help motivate and guide students to be a high ATAR achiever.
How to Maximise Your ATAR Score?
As we all know by now that some subjects scale better than others, we always recommend that you choose HSC subjects that you have a genuine interest in. We believe that a strong interest in a subject will motivate you to pay more attention in class and to ask the right kind of questions that would further enhance your understanding of the subjects. As a result, you will generally perform better in these subjects and give you some control over your ATAR performance.
What are the tips to be a high ATAR achiever?
Based on our survey, here are the top five tips to be a high ATAR achiever:
1. Have a clear goal of what you want to achieve. For example, if you would like to study a Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) with University of Sydney then you may want to target an ATAR of at least 95.00 (median ATAR for such admission is 92.85 based on the latest UAC profile data) to be on the favourable side for admission.
2. Have a clear understanding on how certain subjects are scaled.
3. Work towards your goals consistently, do not be shy to ask questions and ask for help and always listen to constructive feedback from your teachers and/or tutors.
4. Established a system to measure and track your academic achievement and progress regularly.
5. Be disciplined and always stick to the plan and goals.
It is probably worth mentioning that in NSW, English is the only compulsory HSC subject and hence two units of English will count towards the ATAR. As a result, doing well in English is the key for maximising your ATAR score.
Who Is the ATAR Ranking User?
The ATAR is used by the following university admission:
1. Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
2. The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC) in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
3. Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) in Victoria.
4. Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC) in Western Australia.
5. Starting in 2020, the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) in Queensland will also use and calculate the ATAR.
6. Tasmania is an exception, where the University of Tasmania is the only tertiary institution and therefore acts as a self-governing admissions centre.
Best ATAR Calculators for 2019/20 Students
Finally, we have spent some time to evaluate and compounded a list of ATAR calculators based on their states for your convenience:
ACT ATAR Calculators
● ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies ATAR guide
HSC ATAR Calculators
● ATAR Notes HSC Calculator
QCE ATAR Calculators
● ATAR Notes QCE Calculator
SACE/NTCET ATAR Calculators
● SATAC SACE/NTCET Calculator Guide
TCE ATAR Calculators
● TASC TCE Scaled Course Data
VCE ATAR Calculators
● ATAR Notes VCE Calculator
● Deakin University VCE calculator
● Monash University VCE calculator
WACE ATAR Calculators
● ATAR Notes WACE Calculator
● TISC WACE calculator
Word of Caution on Accuracy of ATAR Calculator
Most ATAR calculators incorporate some form of historical ATAR scaling data and sometimes require courses that are normally marked out of 50 to be marked out of 100 to produce an estimate. As a result, there could be significant discrepancies between each ATAR estimate. We strongly recommend the online ATAR calculators be used as a guide only.