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Why all of your UAC preferences matter

7 tips to help you finalise your preferences
Learn how UAC preferences work and how to make them work for you. Read these tips to help you make the most of your uni preferences.

When you receive your ATAR, you may have the urge to rethink your university or study area of choice. Usually, over 25,000 students change their UAC preferences between receiving their ATAR and the change of preferences closing date.

To help you make sense of your UAC preferences, we've compiled these seven tips.

But first, you may want a quick recap on some key terms we use.

Your ATAR, or Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, is a number between 0 and 99.95 – a rank which tells you about how you’ve gone in the HSC overall compared to other students.

Learn more about how the ATAR is calculated.

Your selection rank is your ATAR plus any adjustment factors (previously known as bonus points).

Adjustment factors are used to increase your selection rank and can be accessed through some of our admission pathways.

Some of our courses have a guaranteed ATAR. This means that if your selection rank is equal to or above this number, you’re guaranteed an offer in that course.

You can view our student and ATAR admission profiles from 2020 which shows the lowest, median and highest ATARs and selection ranks received by students admitted to our courses.

The most useful numbers in the ATAR profile are the lowest selection rank and median ATAR – these will give you an idea of what you’ll need to be offered a place in a course.

1. Be true to yourself

Choose a course based on what you enjoy and are passionate about, not because you don't want to waste your ATAR. Back yourself and your interests.

Your dreams and goals will not disappear if you don't reach that elusive mark. After a year of study, your university results are what counts – not your ATAR. Follow your passions and interests, and success and fulfilment will follow too.

2. Look at more than the degree

It's common to become fixated on your ATAR that they lose sight of the big picture.

Once you have added in your ideal preferences, look at where you want to study rather than what you will study. Think about campus locations and what transport and accommodation arrangements you’ll need to make.

University is a significant phase in your life, where you will make life-long connections. Ultimately, if you are offered a place in a course that wasn’t your first preference, you can still reap the benefits and enjoy your student experience until you are able to transfer into your preferred degree.

3. Do your research

Check if your ideal course has a guaranteed ATAR which will secure your place at the University of Sydney. To be offered a place in a guaranteed-ATAR course, you’ll need to list the course as your first preference when you apply.

When choosing your remaining preferences, look for similar courses – those that will allow you to take similar subjects in your first year.

After one year of study, you can then apply to transfer and look at having those subjects credited to your new degree. This isn't unusual – up to 30 percent of students at the University transfer their degrees during their time with us. This is a good option if you’re applying for a competitive double degree.

4. Understand how UAC preferences work

UAC preferences are designed to benefit students so that every student has the opportunity to list their dream course and also include options as a fallback.

You can list up to five preferences across institutions, and you'll be assessed based on the ATAR you achieve, and if there are any additional admissions criteria.

5. Use all 5 of your preferences

Every preference is an opportunity to gain admission into university – the more options you have, the more chances you have of securing a place. But on average students only list one or two preferences on their UAC application.

Start with your top degree and include others that are similar and interest you. Select degrees with a guaranteed ATAR that you have achieved, or if they don't have a guaranteed ATAR, look at including degrees that previous year's ATAR is within reach.

A lot of students believe that you have a lower chance of getting into a course if it is further down your preferences list, which is not the case. You will receive an offer for the first course in your list that you are eligible for.

6. Check and change

While not all courses or institutions have places available in the later rounds, take full advantage of your application and reshuffle your preferences to be considered for an additional offer in later rounds.

You can receive an offer in more than one round. This is useful if you change your mind or want to keep your options open. Your previous offers are not impacted.

7. Join us at Info Day

Speak to current students, academics and staff to explore your options and get your questions answered.

This year, Info Day will be held on Saturday 19 December and will be on campus and online.

Last updated: 23 November 2020

13 September 2017

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