Frequently asked questions

FAQs about the ATAR

Yes. You can purchase a replacement ATAR Advice Notice from the UAC Shop.

Your HSC marks (your performance) and ATAR (your position) are different measures of achievement and therefore should not be compared. However, if you are in the middle group of students in all your courses (with marks typically in the late-70s), you may receive an ATAR of around 70.00. Sometimes marks in the 70s can mean a much lower ATAR depending on your courses and your position in those courses.

You'll receive an ATAR the first year you satisfy the eligibility requirements. If you complete additional courses or repeat courses you have completed, your ATAR will be recalculated. Your most recent ATAR is the one used for selection purposes.

No. Only courses developed by NESA – for which there are formal examinations that yield graded assessments – can be included in the calculation of your ATAR. These are called ATAR courses. If you have more than 10 units of ATAR courses, your ATAR will be calculated using your best 2 scaled units of English and the best 8 scaled units from your remaining units. No more than 2 units of Category B courses can be included.

Up to 4 units of calculus-based maths can be included in the ATAR calculation. If you study Mathematics Extension 1 you should be aware that it has a different weighting (in terms of units) depending on whether you take Mathematics or Mathematics Extension 2. Read about the calculation of your ATAR.

Yes. Your ATAR may be recalculated:

  • if NESA provides amended HSC results to UAC
  • if you repeat courses you have already completed
  • if you complete additional courses.

Institutions use your latest ATAR for selection purposes, which could be higher or lower than – or the same as – a previous ATAR.

Just about any combination of courses can lead to a good ATAR; it all depends on how well a student has done in all their courses in comparison to other students. Your choices should be based on your interests, demonstrated abilities and the value of courses for future career plans, not on what you believe are the likely effects of scaling.

No. You cannot assume that simply by studying more units your ATAR will be increased. While students who study more units tend to gain higher ATARs, there are a number of reasons why, such as each student’s interest, motivation, effort and time management.

Your aggregate will be recalculated using the new course and your previous courses. Your aggregate may increase or stay the same but it will not decrease. However, since you are being compared with a different age cohort, your ATAR may increase, stay the same or even decrease.

No. UAC does not release ATAR information to schools. ATARs are released only to the individual student and the institutions to which that student has applied.

No. IB Diploma candidates do not receive an ATAR. When you apply through UAC, your IB score will be converted to a UAC rank, which is assessed as equivalent to an ATAR.

Students undertaking tertiary preparation programs such as the Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC) and Open Foundation don’t receive an ATAR either.

No. The 2-unit course can be completed one year and the extension course completed in a later year. If you withdraw from the extension course, the marks from the 2-unit course that you have already completed will be available for inclusion in the calculation of your ATAR.

If you do not satisfactorily complete a course, that course will not count towards meeting your ATAR requirements. If the course is a 2-unit course with an associated extension course in which you are enrolled, the extension course will not count either. Receiving a mark for a course on your Record of Achievement is an indication that you have satisfactorily completed that course.

Courses are scaled using the mean scores and distribution of marks, which indicate the ability of all students studying that course. Courses studied by students who perform well in all their courses will be scaled highly. Courses such as Mathematics Extension 2 and Physics traditionally scale well because of this; however, you need to achieve high HSC marks to gain any benefit from scaling.

While most students who achieve an ATAR of 99.95 take at least one extension subject, there are many different patterns of study observed every year. Students present anywhere from 10 to 15 units, some accumulating over two years and some over three years.

In recent years some candidates have achieved an ATAR of 99.95 studying English as an Additional Language or Dialect. Further, some students in the 99.95 group did not study mathematics at all; instead, their study patterns typically consisted of English Extension 1 and languages or English Extension 1, Modern and/or Ancient History and subjects like Business Studies or Studies of Religion II. Remember, students should select subjects in which they are interested and which prepare them for their future careers.

No. Performance bands and scaled marks relate to two distinct processes. NESA uses raw HSC marks to align performance bands and calculate HSC marks, while UAC uses the same raw HSC marks to undertake the scaling process and calculate the ATAR. Therefore, performance bands and scaled marks cannot affect each other.

No. You’ll keep your own exam mark and your own assessment rank. When your school’s assessment marks are moderated, you may be given a different assessment mark depending on the exam results of the other students in your course, but you’ll keep your rank. Your exam mark will depend on how well you perform in the exam and is not affected by your assessment rank.

Call UAC’s ATAR Enquiry Centre on 1300 MY ATAR (1300 692 827) or (02) 9119 5012 (from mobiles) or +61 2 9119 5012 (from overseas). It will operate for a few days after ATARs are released on 10 December 2021.

  • Friday 18 December 2020, 8.30am to 6pm
  • Saturday 19 December 2020, 8.30am to 4.30pm
  • Monday 21 December 2020, 8.30am to 4.30pm
  • Tuesday 22 December 2020, 8.30am to 4.30pm.