Explore your options

Steps to uni for Year 11 and 12 students

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If you’re unsure about what you’d like to do when you finish school, and are wondering if university is for you, you’re not alone. Just remember that uni isn’t only for the brightest students or for those with a specific career path in mind. Uni is for anyone who’s committed to reaching their full potential and wants to acquire the skills and experience to achieve their goals.

Keep your options open by taking the time to understand how the university application process works, how institutions use the ATAR to select students, non-ATAR pathways to tertiary study, and the many levels of financial support available to you.

And if you don’t know where to start when it comes to investigating the types of courses you might be interested in, try our Course Compass tool. It’s quick and easy!

Year 12 students: Your UAC PIN will be emailed to you in April to the address you registered with NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). You'll need it to apply for uni through UAC and to get your ATAR.

Available courses

Search for courses that align with your interests and read about the areas of study that they cover and the careers they might lead to.

ATARs and selection ranks

For each course, UAC and universities publish an ATAR profile. Where relevant, this will include:

  • the lowest ATAR that resulted in an offer to the course in semester 1, 2023
  • the lowest selection rank that resulted in an offer to the course in semester 1, 2023.

2024 lowest ATARs and selection ranks will be published in the course descriptions in August 2024.

A small number of institutions indicate a guaranteed ATAR or guaranteed selection rank. If you achieve this ATAR or selection rank then you are guaranteed an offer to that course for semester 1, 2025.

Use all ATAR profile data as a guide only to your chances of receiving an offer; it provides a broad overview of the ATARs and selection ranks of previous Year 12 students admitted into that course. ATARs and selection ranks required for entry in 2025 may be different. If you are unsure about including a course among your preferences, contact the relevant institution.

The ATAR profile data published in the UAC course descriptions is in line with Commonwealth Government transparency requirements. It is based on offers to recent school leavers (ie completed Year 12 in 2022 to 2023) who were selected solely or partly on their ATAR. Note that some institutions further differentiate this information on their websites by publishing:

  • separate data for 2023 Year 12 students and 2022 Year 12 students
  • data relating to an entire year's intake (eg all offers made in 2023 – semesters 1 and 2).

Lowest ATARs

Don’t assume that the published lowest ATAR for a course is the ATAR you require to be made an offer to that course. The applicant who received that ATAR may have been eligible for adjustment factors and had their selection rank increased, making them eligible for an offer.


If you’re concerned that your ATAR might not be high enough to get an offer to any of the courses you’re interested in, take a look at the various pathways to university.

Special entry requirements

Be aware that there are special entry requirements for students applying to study medicine or medical sciences (eg UCAT) and health, welfare and teaching courses.

Take note of important dates in the application process.

Get advice on choosing courses

Every year, around 45,000 Year 12 students apply for uni online through UAC. Applying through UAC means you don’t need to apply separately to each institution. You can apply for up to five courses at any of our participating institutions. It also means you can apply for early offer schemes processed through UAC (Schools Recommendation Schemes), the Educational Access Scheme and Equity Scholarships.

After you apply you can log back in to your application to change your course preferences, track the status of your application and participate in our many offer rounds.

How to apply through UAC

Guidance for asylum seekers / students on bridging and temporary protection visas

The Educational Access Scheme (EAS) helps students who have experienced long-term educational challenges gain admission to tertiary study. Find out more about EAS

The Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS) aims to help you access higher education through selection criteria other than (or in addition to) your ATAR. Unis use a wide range of selection criteria, including school recommendations and senior secondary studies. Find out more about SRS

Equity Scholarships (ES) help financially challenged students with the general costs associated with tertiary study. By submitting just one application you’ll be considered for all available Equity Scholarships for which you’re eligible. Find out more about ES

Find out about financial assistance while you are at uni

Early offer schemes (including SRS) make offers before the December and January offer rounds. Your preferences are considered in the order you list them, so make sure you have the course you most want to do as your first preference.

ATARs are normally released mid-December on UAC’s website.

The ATAR helps universities rank applicants for selection into their courses.

Find out about the ATAR calculation and getting your result

Once you’ve received your HSC results and your ATAR and have an idea of the selection rank adjustments you may be eligible for, it’s time to go back to your preferences to make sure they’re realistic. Perhaps you’ve done better than you expected and want to change the courses you applied for, or maybe you’ve rethought what you want to study.

You don’t want to miss out on an offer because you don’t meet the selection ranks for the courses you’ve listed. Go back to the course descriptions and look at the ATAR profile table for your preferred courses.

If you’re concerned that you’re not going to meet the selection ranks for these courses, consider adding one or two pathway courses to your list of preferences. Pathway courses generally include non-degree courses such as foundation studies, preparatory courses and certificates, diploma or associate degree courses. If you successfully complete a pathway course, an institution may guarantee your entry into a particular degree course. Otherwise, you can use your pathway course studies to apply and compete for admission to other degree courses. You may also be awarded credit for some of your pathway course studies.

Also check that you’re not wasting preferences by listing courses that have already closed or have additional selection criteria or prerequisites that you haven’t met.

Read more about selecting course preferences

Most institutions make offers to Year 12 students in the December and January rounds. You can change your course preferences between offer rounds.

Your admission to most tertiary courses will be based on your selection rank, which is usually your ATAR. However, if other factors are considered, these will be combined with your ATAR to adjust your selection rank and make it higher than your ATAR. These adjustments used to be called ‘bonus points’.

In addition to setting a selection rank, some courses specify course prerequisites (eg completing, or achieving a specified standard in, a particular HSC course), which you must satisfy before you can be considered for an offer.

Most universities also use other criteria when selecting students. Some courses have additional selection criteria such as a personal statement, a questionnaire, a portfolio of work, an audition, an interview or a test. These will be considered together with (or sometimes instead of) your ATAR.

Find out more about how offers work

Accept your offer and follow the institution’s instructions to start the enrolment process. Don’t worry, you can still receive offers in later rounds, even if you’ve already accepted a previous offer.

Read more about accepting your offer

Gap years

If you’re intending to take a gap year, we recommend that you apply now and defer. If you wait a year you will be applying as a post-school applicant and competing against other post-school applicants who may have a range of qualifications and experiences. You may also no longer have access to certain early entry schemes, such as the Schools Recommendation Scheme, or adjustment factors that will increase your selection rank (eg recognition of achievement in an HSC course).

Career advice

The Your Career website offers tailored support to school leavers transitioning to work, training or further education.

Your Career information and resources are provided by the Australian Government National Careers Institute.