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ATAR explained

What is the ATAR and how is it calculated?

ATAR stands for Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank. It is a number between zero and 99.95 that tells your position in your year group.

Rank, not a score

Your result should not be seen as an ATAR score, but rather your percentile position out of all students who started Year 7 with you. It’s based on overall HSC results and is designed to be a predictor of your first-year performance at university.

So an ATAR of 70 doesn’t mean you got 70 percent – it means that you’re in the top 30 percent of your year group.

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How is the ATAR used?

Each university sets a lowest rank to receive an offer for each course. This is seen as the fairest method for student comparison and, as a nationally recognised measure, it is used by many universities as the primary basis for admission.

This generally means that ATARs reflect supply and demand more than the intellectual capacity needed to study the course.

To help you make informed decisions and provide transparency, the University of Sydney has published a list of Guaranteed Entry selection ranks that guarantee admission into most of our courses.

When you order your ideal courses on your UAC preferences form, the system automatically makes you an offer for the highest preference that you qualify for. You will get an offer in preference to someone with a lower ATAR who put the same choice higher on their UAC form.

So make sure you put what you really want to do as your first preference – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Every year we display the selection ranks, by course, of our students who were offered a place based on their ATAR (or ATAR plus adjustment factors or additional admissions criteria, where applicable). View our Student ATAR and admission profiles to see the lowest, median and highest ranks.

The University of Sydney makes offers to those who have experienced disadvantage, or who have shown potential for success through our admission pathways. We take great pride in setting aside places for those in our community for whom the ATAR alone is not an accurate reflection of ability.

Traditionally, the University has relied upon the ATAR (or equivalent) as the best predictor of ability to succeed at university for those students who are not experiencing significant disadvantage.

Find out more about Guaranteed Entry.

We have a number of admission pathways. This data covers any enrolments under our:

  • Early Offer Year 12 (E12) Scheme
  • Future Leaders Scheme
  • Elite Athletes and Performers Scheme
  • Gadigal Program
  • Special Consideration for Admission Scheme
  • Broadway Scheme.

How is the ATAR calculated?

Your ATAR is affected by your rank in your courses, your raw HSC marks and how well you do in the various assessment tasks for chosen subjects. Subjects are scaled according to the level of sophistication of the content and skills required.

Watch our explainer to understand how the ATAR is calculated, how scaling works and how scaling affects your marks. Visit UAC for more inforamtion.

What do I need to know about subject selection and the ATAR?

To ensure that you are on an ATAR pathway, 8 of your 10 units need to be selected from the Board Developed Category.

No subject will guarantee you a high ATAR, and no subject will condemn you to a low ATAR. Our advice is to start thinking about what you enjoy and what inspires you. Browse your course options early and take note of the admissions criteria and high school subjects required or advised for the courses that interest you.

To get into some of our courses, you will need to choose certain subjects in Years 11 and 12, which are prerequisites for admission. In addition to prerequisites, many of our courses also have recommendations for assumed knowledge in certain subjects, which are not required for admission, but are related to the course and will be useful for you to complete. So it's important to start preparing early.

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