How does the ATAR work?

The process of calculating the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) can be quite perplexing for many students, and this confusion is entirely understandable. ATARs are not straightforward as they involve various intricate aspects such as scaling and moderation.

Am I Eligible for ATAR?

To be eligible for an ATAR, students generally need to meet certain requirements, which include:

  • Completing the relevant subjects: Students must complete a specific number of subjects. This typically includes a combination of mandatory courses and elective subjects. The exact requirements may vary between states and territories in Australia, but in NSW, students are required to complete at least 2 units of English and 8 units of other subjects.

  • Completing an English subject: In most cases, students are required to study an English subject, such as English Standard or English Advanced, as part of their HSC studies. English is often a prerequisite for university admission.

Minimum units

It is important to note that the specific requirements for ATAR eligibility may differ from state to state within Australia. Each state's education department or authority sets the criteria for the end of year exam and ATAR calculations, so students should consult their relevant educational authority or school guidance counsellors to understand the exact requirements for their region.

Why does ATAR exist?

Overall, the ATAR is a standardised measure that allows universities and tertiary institutions to compare the academic performance of students from different schools and regions, making it an essential factor in the university admission process in Australia.

What is ATAR scaling?

Scaling is a crucial element in ATAR calculations, which aims to adjust the HSC marks of students to account for variations in the difficulty level of subjects. Since different subjects may have different levels of complexity, scaling ensures that students are not disadvantaged if they choose more challenging subjects.

What is ATAR moderation?

Moderation is another essential component of ATAR calculation. It involves the adjustment of HSC assessment marks by the NSW Education Standards Authority to maintain consistent standards across different schools and ensure fairness in the final ATAR scores.

How is my ATAR calculated?

When determining your ATAR, it is primarily based on your performance in the HSC exams and assessments. Your HSC marks are converted into scaled marks, and then these scaled marks are ranked against other students across the state. This ranking is what ultimately determines your ATAR. The higher your ranking, the higher your ATAR will be, and vice versa.

How my ATAR is calculated

The ATAR plays a vital role in the university admission process in Australia. It represents your rank compared to other students and is used by universities and other higher education institutions as a measure of your academic performance. A higher ATAR opens up more opportunities for admission to competitive courses and a wider range of universities, while a lower ATAR may limit your options.

You can estimate your ATAR based on your HSC marks and estimated exam marks using University Admission Centre's (UAC) ATAR Compass.

In addition to your ATAR score, universities can award you with additional points also known as adjustment factors for various activities or units you may have taken. See our page on adjustment factors for more information.

In summary, ATAR calculation is a multi-faceted process that takes into account scaling and moderation to ensure fairness and equity among students. Understanding the significance of your ATAR can help you make more informed decisions about your future education and career pathways. If you ever feel overwhelmed or confused about the process, there are resources available to assist you in navigating this important aspect of your academic journey.

Something to keep in mind is that the ATAR isn’t the only way into university. Visit our page on alternative entry pathways for more information.