ATAR explained | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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ATAR explained

4 Dec 2017

From 2020, the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) will replace the Overall Position (OP) as the standard pathway to tertiary study for Queensland Year 12s. This system will bring Queensland into line with other states and territories around Australia, but it’s a new world for the next generation of senior students (and their parents).

So, how does an ATAR work? Watch the QTAC video below and read on for more information.

What is an ATAR?

An ATAR is a number between zero and 99.95. It is used to rank an individual student’s position within the group of all the students who started Year 7 in the same year.

To be eligible for an ATAR, your child needs to complete five general subjects, or four general subjects plus either one applied subject or VET course at AQF Certificate III or above. Successful completion of an English subject is compulsory, but your child’s English marks may not necessarily be used to calculate their ATAR (see below).

How is an ATAR calculated?

An ATAR is based on a student’s overall academic performance. It is designed to compare students who’ve studied different senior subjects.

QTAC completes a process known as ‘scaling’. Scaling adjusts the raw scores for a given subject, so the results for that subject can be compared fairly with the results of any other subject. Prior to scaling, comparing raw scores for different subjects is like comparing apples and oranges. Scaled scores let QTAC compare apples and apples.

It’s important to know that scaling doesn’t improve or reduce your child’s performance in their subjects – it just allows for fair comparison.

For an in-depth explanation of how scaling works visit the QTAC website.

Your child’s ATAR represents your child’s position as a percentage of their ranking. For example, an ATAR of 75 means your child performed better than 75 percent of their cohort – so they are in the top 25 percent.

Which subjects should your child choose?

The most important thing to remember is that choosing one subject over another won’t guarantee your child a higher ATAR. What matters is your child’s ranking relative to other students in their subjects.

As a result, the best approach is for your child to choose subjects they enjoy and that will motivate them to achieve to the best of their ability. Remember to also consider any prerequisites for the degrees or study areas they may be interested in in the future.

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