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What if I get a lower ATAR than I expected?

3 things to do if you don’t get the results you were hoping for
Getting a lower than expected ATAR isn't the end of the world, so don't worry – there are always other pathways to your dream course or career.

Receiving your ATAR can be an exciting and nervous time, but it's a good idea to have a back-up plan. Here are our top three tips to help take the pressure off when deciding what your plan b will be.  

1. Understand your options

If you miss out on your first preference – don’t panic! The first step is to understand your options. To help remove uncertainty, we have guaranteed ATARs for most of our undergraduate courses.

At Sydney, you will also have the option to study subjects you love, in another degree through our shared pool of majors and minors. You can mix and match over 90 subjects from different areas of interests.

If you had experienced significant distruption during Year 12, one of our admission pathways could help you receive an offer for your dream course.

Duncan Robertson

Duncan Robertson, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws student

“I was fortunate enough to gain admission via the Broadway Scheme into my degree. For me, this pathway into the University allowed me to study my passions from day one.

“Having now completed three years, I have constantly benefited from the vast array of support (both academically and socially) and opportunities provided to students who came to study at Sydney via an admissions pathway.”

2. Seek advice

Seek advice from your family, friends and careers advisers and get as much information as you can to help you make an informed decision before preferences close.

Talk to us at Info Day on 19 December 2019. Our staff and students are on hand to answer your questions on anything from majors to options available via admissions pathways, as well as help you finalise your preferences. Write down a list of questions you have so that you can tick them off on the day. Here are a few suggested questions to ask:

  • Which subjects are on offer in my degree?
  • What is a guaranteed ATAR, and what happens if I don’t meet it?
  • What approximate mark would I need if I wanted to transfer after my first year of study?
  • How do I apply for late consideration under the Broadway scheme?
  • If I don’t get into the undergraduate degree, will there be graduate-entry options available?
I think it’s important that we tell young people that life is not all about the ATAR.
Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor

3. Don't sweat it

It is not the end of the world if you don’t get the marks you were hoping for. No matter which pathway you take, remember to work hard and make the most of it.

“Young people need to understand that their ATAR is not going to be tattooed on their forehead for the rest of their lives,” Dr Michael Spence says. “It’s an admission to a first university degree and, as we know, there are multiple pathways into university. And there are a million ways to get the education you want and a rewarding career.”

You will always find a way to study what you love – your ATAR is just one of them. 

Last updated 11 November 2019
14 December 2017

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