It’s that dreaded time of year when we gear up for the ATAR apocalypse. Our doors are boarded shut, and our mailboxes ripped out of the ground. You’ve deleted all forms of email, except for Facebook where you and your mates are all sending anxiety-inducing DMs that hit you like a pit in your stomach.
What if we told you the ATAR apocalypse isn’t real?
What if you don’t get the mark of your dreams?
The ATAR isn’t actually a mark. It’s a ranking of where you stand in relation to all other students. If you received an ATAR of 70, it doesn’t mean you got 70%, but that you’re in the top 30% of your year group. Hoorah!
Your ranking is designed to be an indicator of how you’ll perform in your first year of uni, but practically, ATAR requirements for courses are often decided by supply and demand. They’re sourced from the lowest ATAR of the last year’s cohort, i.e. the last person they let into the course. If demand is higher, the requirement goes up.
If you didn’t get the required ATAR for a course, you could still apply to get in. You never know how many people will apply for any given course, and the score could go down while they’re accepting applicants. For one former UTS student, not getting into their first choice was a blessing in disguise.
“I didn’t get into my first choice of uni course. My ATAR wasn’t high enough, but the course I did get into at UTS was fantastic. The course was so hands-on, I got so much practical experience that I could get a great job straight out of uni.”
The pressure will fade
It may feel like the most important thing you’ll do in your life right now, but many year 12 graduates find that school marks didn’t matter in the long term. The HSC is a measure of your abilities and your effort, but it’s also a measure of circumstances beyond your control, like your home-life or the resources available to you.
Luke Stutter is studying a dual degree in Exercise Science and Psychology at QUT, and now many years later, his Queensland OP is merely a faded memory. “I received the marks I expected, but it wasn’t the be all and end all. Once I started uni, nobody cared how I went in school or whether you upgraded.’
If your skills don’t translate to exams, there are heaps of other pathways you can take. TAFE courses or apprenticeships don’t take ATARs into consideration. As they say, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Don’t let a ranking decide your future for you!
If you’ve got your heart set on a prestigious area like medicine, you can always choose to transfer your degree. Apply to a relevant Bachelor’s degree course at the uni you want to attend, complete your first year with good marks and you may be eligible to transfer straight into second year medicine. These factors will change depending on the University and the course, so it’s best to look them up specifically for more information.
If you’re really concerned about making it into your course, Universities often offer bonus point schemes that take your extra-curricular activities or aptitudes into account to add bonus points to your ATAR. These will be available on the University’s website.
The worst thing you can do is stress before you’ve found out your results. The best thing you can do is contact Beyond Blue for extra help dealing with the ATAR apocalypse.
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.