So what really is an ATAR?

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avondale school principals blog


So what really is an ATAR?

23 June 2017


So what really is an ATAR? What is all the fuss about? Can I get an HSC without an ATAR? Does everyone really need an ATAR? What if I don’t get the ATAR I need for the course I want to do? So many questions! So much information out there! Let me explain…


Simply, the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) is the number that determines a student’s entry into university. Speaking in rough terms, the number scored by an individual is the percentage of students they ‘beat’ on the Higher School Certificate. For example if you scored 80, then you received a higher score than 80% of the other students in your year group who sat the HSC.


The calculation of an ATAR is complex. It is based on an aggregate of scaled marks in 10 units of ATAR courses, comprising the best 2 units of English and the best 8 units from the remaining units. It is a combination of the moderated assessment marks we send in as a school (50%) and their scaled HSC Examination mark (50%). It is important to understand that the only reason you need an ATAR is if you are planning to attend university the year after school (or after you defer for a year). If you want to read more on this subject, here is a useful link:


This is also a great little VIDEO that may help you understand how the ATAR is calculated.


I guess the important question really is - how can I get the best out of my child without pushing them over the edge??


Firstly, reassure them that there are MANY paths to a rewarding future career, be it work, an apprenticeship, travel, TAFE, university or voluntary work. There are also a myriad of opportunities for mature-aged students once they’ve gained ‘real-life’ experience. Secondly, as a parent, reassure your child that an exam mark does not define them. The pressure of one year should never hurt their self-esteem or your family relationships. Lastly, check in with them regularly and ask them how they are doing. Make sure they know you will love and support them long after the exams are over and that even if things do not go as planned, life is full of second chances!


Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Albert Einstein.


Julie Carter

Secondary Director of Studies


mel lemke



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