ATAR Scores – What does it even all mean?

By December 1, 2018 FAQ No Comments

Schools out, exams and assignments all completed and Schoolies Week survived. Now comes the moment of truth as ATAR and OP scores have just been released.

Many students across the country will be jumping up and down with glee, feeling their futures are secure. On the same token, many others will be left staring at their computer screen with an open mouth thinking “Is that right?”.

Like any grade or score you get there will inevitably be winners and losers. But what do you do if you are on the losing end? You slaved away through your senior high school years, studied endlessly for exams and worked so hard on those assignments – why is it not enough?

Don’t pull yourself out of the race prematurely! Don’t go thinking certain careers are now out of your reach! You couldn’t be more wrong.

We thought we’d compile some handy facts about the ATAR scores, here to answer some of the commonly asked questions.

Got questions about your ATAR?

Got questions about your ATAR?

What does ATAR even mean?

The ATAR is what will directly get you into university. It stands for Australian Tertiary Admission Rank and calculates where you sit in comparison with your fellow peers that graduated Year 12 in Australia that year. Having said that, ATAR scores vary from year to year. Someone with the same subjects and grades as you might have received a completely different ATAR because they graduated in a different year. That’s because ATAR scores are influenced by the amount of students, and how they collectively all fared that year.

How is the ATAR score calculated?

Good question! To keep it simple, the UAC (Universities Admissions Centre) scales subjects up or down according to the performance of students in a subject in a particular year. The results from your best ten units of study are then selected and added together to give a score out of 500. This is then converted to a percentage (up to 99.95) and voilà – there’s your ATAR score.

What if I have a low ATAR?

Receiving a lower than expected ATAR may feel like the end of the world right now, but what you have to keep reminding yourself is that it’s about the course, not the number! Once you’re in your course and out in the workforce no one will worry about your ATAR score anymore. If your ATAR is too low for your dream course there are numerous pathway and bridging programs available that will get you where you want to be!

What are pathways?

Put simply, a pathway is an alternative route taken to your first-choice course or institution. Depending on the pathway, you can do, for example, one year of full-time study maintaining a certain academic average, and then transfer straight into the second year of your chosen degree. That means you don’t lose any time! Before you decide on a pathway make sure to enquire about Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) when chatting to course advisers.

Do I need to change my preferences?

No, you don’t! Instinct might tell you to get into uni at all costs, but if you look into the alternatives you don’t have to give up your dream just to get into university straight away. “Going to uni” doesn’t mean the same it once did – these days there are countless other higher education programs, with bachelor degrees also available at countless private colleges and even some TAFE institutions. Unless you really feel you need to there is no need to change your preferences. You chose them for a reason, right?

Remember: It’s about how you graduate, not how you got in, that matters in the end!

Still confused?
Contact us at or call us on 02 9091 8093 today and find out just how many options there are available for you!

What are you waiting for? Fast-track your undergraduate degree and lock in an offer for a pathway program today!

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