What Is The ATAR? A Simple Explanation – LearnMate Tutoring

What Is The ATAR? A Simple Explanation – LearnMate Tutoring

1. What is the ATAR?

The ATAR is a ranking that shows your achievement relative to another student. The highest ATAR that one can achieve is 99.95. If you get an ATAR of 70 it means you have done better than 70% of students in that year.

2. How is the ATAR calculated?

The ATAR is calculated by VTAC (Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre) and is derived from your VCE results that are issued by VCAA.

The ATAR is calculated based on up to six scaled VCE study scores. Study scores are scaled up or down by VTAC according to the performance of students in a study in a particular year.

The ATAR is calculated from an aggregate, by adding together:

  1. Highest scaled study score in one of the English (Mainstream English, Literature, English Language) studies;
  2. Highest scaled study scores for three additional studies, and;
  3. 10% of the scaled study scores for the fifth and sixth studies.


3. Why are subjects scaled?

Some subjects are harder than others and there are varying levels of competition in different subjects. Scaling allows for these situations to be taken into account.

Refer to VTAC for more information about how scaling works.

4. Why is the ATAR important? Is it important?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is obvious that the ATAR is used by universities to admit students, we can try to argue that universities need to look beyond the ATAR in admitting students, however, this is the system that we have in place now, and so we need to work with it.

ATARs for university courses are generally determined based on the popularity of the courses i.e. demand and supply. The more demand there is for a course the higher the ATAR cut-off will be for that course.

However, in saying that the ATAR is a pre-requisite to getting into university, don’t let the cut-off ATAR score for a particular course put you off. Universities nowadays recognise that not everyone can get a high ATAR, and so they have put in place various pathways schemes which will allow you to study your dream course; it may take longer but you will be able to.

  • See pathways section (p.13 – 16) for more discussion on pathways into university.

One thing that is important to know is when you get into university, nobody cares about your ATAR. Once you are in that is it; no one is going to quiz you on what ATAR you got as once you get to university everyone is on the same level playing field.

Likewise, once you enter into the workforce after completing university, it would be rare to find an employer who would be interested in what ATAR you got. They will be more interested in what you did in university and what skills you can bring to them. You will still need to work hard in university to get good marks that will give you a better chance of securing employment after you graduate from university.

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What Is The ATAR? A Simple Explanation – LearnMate Tutoring