What is the Average ATAR?

14 June 2024
Posted in Students, Study
14 June 2024 ram-horizon

ATAR, short for Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank, is a percentile ranking used by universities in Australia that shows how well a student achieved in Year 12 relative to other students in their cohorts in either VCE or HSC.

The ATAR scores range between 0 and 99.95 in increments of 0.05. An ATAR of 80.00 means the student is in the top 20% of their cohort, while an ATAR of 99.00 means the student is in the top 1% of their cohort, and so on.

The ATAR has been adopted in Australia and is used by universities to assess which students to make offers to for admissions in various tertiary courses.

What is the Highest ATAR Score You Can Get?

The highest ATAR that you can achieve is 99.95, which indicates a student outperformed 99.95% of the students in their cohort.

What is an Average ATAR Score?

An average ATAR score is around 70.00. You might wonder why not something closer to 50.00. However, the score is set higher due to students leaving school early or not achieving an ATAR. This pushes the average ATAR score higher.

What is a Good ATAR Score?

A good ATAR score is subjective. It varies from student to student and also depends on various factors such as:

  • A student’s academic record and ambitions are compared to their score when they finish Year 12, including their score compared to their peers.
  • What tertiary course does the student want to do post-year 12, and what is the minimum ATAR required to do that course at their ideal university?

What is the Lowest ATAR Score You Can Get?

Because the ATAR scores range from 0 to 99.95, a student’s lowest score is 0. However, all scores below 30 are simply reported to students as “less than 30.”

How is the ATAR Calculated?

Calculation of the ATAR is a comprehensive process that varies depending on the Year 12 curriculum, which includes HSC, VCE, QCE, SACE, WACE, TCE, and IB, among others.

Each territory has its own method of calculating the ATAR, but generally, the approach is the same. When students complete all their Year 12 subjects, their respective marks go through a review process, moderation and scaling to accurately determine how they performed compared to their cohorts. Generally speaking, a student’s marks will be considered, moderated and scaled based on the following:

  • How did the student’s school perform relative to another school? This helps to adjust for differences in how a school may grade or how difficult the internal assessment was.
  • The relative difficulty of the subject completed and the strength of the competition in those subjects.

Once the process is complete, the aggregate of the student’s marks is calculated. Every student is positioned based on their aggregate relative to their peers. A final ATAR is then issued to the student.

Why is the ATAR Important?

ATAR is crucial for several reasons, including if you want to go to university and pursue a specific course.

The ATAR requirements for university courses are generally determined based on their popularity. The higher the ATAR cut-off, the more demand for a course.

Some of the reasons why ATAR score is so important include:

It determines your enrollment eligibility

ATAR determines a student’s eligibility for university enrollment, and the score will be calculated based on the student’s performance.

If your goal is to go to university, then the ATAR score is a minimum requirement to be admitted to that course. Also, the higher your ATAR results, the better your chances of getting into university. Even if you’re unsure about attending college, ATAR tutoring will also bring you a few benefits.

ATAR benefits your education pathway

ATAR is not just a requirement for transition into tertiary institutions. It can also have numerous benefits that could bring significant learning effects:

  • It can help students achieve their goals. If the students know their goals, they’ll learn how to achieve them strategically. They can focus on primary subjects and offload anxiety on unnecessary subjects.
  • Students can develop time management and study skills. The ATAR serves as a definitive objective to strive towards encouraging them to develop better study habits and time management skills and gain a sense of purpose in their studies.
  • ATAR can motivate students to study harder and achieve a higher ATAR, giving them a competitive objective when applying for university programs or jobs.

ATAR secures students’ acceptance slot

ATAR scores are relevant to university completion rates. According to the Centre of Independent Studies’s report, students with an ATAR score below 60 are three times more likely to drop out than those with an ATAR score of 80 or higher.

A higher ATAR can provide a competitive advantage in a highly competitive field or popular courses with limited vacancies. Universities may give preferences to applicants with higher ATARs when allocating limited spots. Achieving a strong ATAR also opens up more opportunities for students to secure a place in competitive courses or prestigious institutions.

How Do I Achieve the ATAR I Need?

Evidently, achieving the ATAR you need isn’t a walk in the park. It requires hard work and consistency; a few tips can help you improve your chances. These tips include:

Define and visualise your academic goals

The first step is to define and visualise your academic goals. This helps you determine the finish line and the ATAR you need to enter the university and course of your choice. It will also help you find the shortest path to get there.

Understand how your subjects are scaled and affect your ATAR

Your subject combination will affect your ATAR because different HSC subjects are scaled differently. Understanding how different subject combinations will result in different ATARs for the same percentile is crucial.

Typically, a student with a subject combination of Maths and Science is awarded a higher ATAR than another student with humanities subjects, even with both students performing in the 90th percentile in their courses.

Students studying humanities need to achieve higher HSC marks to receive the same scaled marks as those studying maths and science-oriented subjects.

You should also remember that your English HSC mark must be counted towards your ATAR because English is the only compulsory HSC subject.

Put in the Hours

There’s no escaping hard work when it comes to getting a high ATAR score. Success in year 12 requires consistency, commitment, dedication and effort. You need to put in more effort than the other students.

However, working the hours is not enough. You must maximise every minute to ensure the best results.

Effective study habits

Besides putting in the hours, you must also ensure you put those hours to good use by practising effective study habits. One of the ways you can do this is by having a test preparation tutor who helps you with revisions. The tutor will help you come up with a revision schedule and help you keep up with it.

You can also come up with a timetable of your own that will help you keep up with your revision. Working with teachers to provide you with revision materials and past papers is another effective study habit that will help you practice on real examples and build your confidence going into the exams.

Identify and address weaknesses.

Every student has an area of weakness that they should identify and work towards addressing. For some students, it can be certain subjects where they always underperform, while for others, it can be exam time management and anxiety. Whether that’s a specific topic or unit in Maths Methods or a pattern such as suboptimal sleep patterns or exam anxiety, you need to recognise them and be aware of the areas of improvement. This can be highly rewarding at exam time.

One of the ways to address what you are experiencing is to reach out to others who have overcome the same experience or have experienced it. A tutor could also come in handy in such instances and could even help you with tips that help you overcome anything that may prevent you from achieving your full potential.


ATAR scores can be a complex subject for students to understand, but the effort that goes into understanding them is necessary to help plan and ensure you understand the challenge ahead of you. You can then accurately determine the ranking you need to enter your university of choice and follow through with your academic goals.

One of the essential investments you can make when chasing your preferred ranking is to work with experienced and qualified private tutors who will help you prepare for the final exams and help you overcome any challenges you might have. Alchemy Tuition has amazing Year 12 tutors who can help you prepare for various subject exams and equip you with tips to help you maximise the results of your tests.

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