ATAR Basics & Scoring

What is the ATAR?

ATAR = Australian Tertiary Admission Rank

The ATAR is a ranking provided to Year 12 students in a given state in Australia on the basis of their performance in exams and coursework for their subjects. It is important to note that an ATAR represents a student’s rank in their own state, not across the entire country. 

In Victoria, for example, an aggregate is calculated from the scores achieved in the VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education), whereas in New South Wales, the ATAR aggregate is calculated using the scores achieved in the HSC (High School Certificate).

Do I need an ATAR?

The applicant’s ATAR is used in the selection process for all universities throughout Australia.

However, the weighting of the ATAR differs for each university – for example, whilst the ATAR, UCAT and Interview are equally weighted for Monash University, the ATAR is used as the main selection criteria for entrance into Sydney University.

Student wondering what a good ATAR is

What is a good ATAR?

The ATAR is calculated in increments of 0.05, with the highest score being 99.95. As the ATAR is a percentile, a 99.95 ATAR means that you are in the top 0.05% of your state. Likewise, an ATAR of 99 means that you are in the top 1% of your state. 

Generally an ATAR of  99+ is considered as competitive for entry into Medicine (dependent on performances in the UCAT and Interviews). Interstate applicants generally require higher ATARs to be considered, whereas rural and Indigenous students may be considered despite lower ATARs.

Note that even a 99.95 ATAR and a 99th UCAT percentile will not guarantee entry into Medicine.

Universities & ATARs

Prerequisite Subjects

Prerequisites are subjects that you must complete in order to be eligible for selection into a university course. For Medicine, the pre-requisites are consistent from state-to-state and include:

  • Chemistry
  • An English subject
  • A Maths subject

*Biology, although not a prerequisite, is highly recommended. Students who have not studied biology are often advised to complete a bridging course before commencing their medical studies.

See more about the entry requirements for different universities in Australia »

Chemistry is a prerequisite for Medicine

ATAR Profiles:

ATAR profiles, relevant to the previous year, are released by each state’s tertiary application bodies (for all courses) in February/March. The ATAR profiles vary between universities.

This table is an example for Monash University’s 2019 ATAR profile:

Note: The Lowest ATARs most likely had some special considerations as well, which would have boosted the resulting score (these are the ‘raw’ ATARs so to speak)

Place Type Highest ATAR Median ATAR Lowest ATAR
CSP School Leaver Entry
CSP Extended Rural Cohort
CSP Bonded School Leaver Entry

VCE (Victoria)

How does the VCE work?

Students are assigned a score out of 50 for each subject. This is on a percentile basis – for example a 50 study score doesn’t correlate to a 100% in the exam, rather the top 0.2% of performers in school coursework (SACs) and the exam.

While the exam is sat by all students completing a subject, SACs vary between schools – as such SACs are standardised by VCAA based on the schools’ performance in the exam

Study Score (out of 50) Ranking
Top 50% of the state
Top 8% of the state
Top 2% of the state
Top 0.2% of the state

Key Terms

  • Study Score = The percentile ranking each student receives for each subject based on their SACs and Exam marks
  • SAC = School Assessed Coursework (assessments given by each school)
  • VCAA = Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (they run the show with respect to the VCE)

VCE scores & the ATAR

In Victoria, an aggregate is calculated to help determine a student’s VCE rank (ATAR).

The aggregate is a sum of the student’s scaled score for an English subject + the scaled scores for their 3 highest scoring subjects + 10% of the scaled scores of each their 2 lowest scoring subjects (other than their English subject). Hence, most students choose to complete 6 subjects throughout their final years of high school, in order to maximise their scores.

The aggregates of students in the state are ranked and assigned percentiles (an ATAR rank). The table included shows the range of aggregates needed to attain certain ATARs in the VCE.

Subject Scaling

You may have noticed that the aggregate required to achieve a 99.95 is higher than a 210 – even though 210 is the aggregate associated with x6 50 study scores (50*4 + 50*0.10 + 50*0.10).

This is because subjects scale up or down depending on the strength of the cohort completing it, and essentially the difficulty of the subject. Subjects that are difficult and with a very strong cohort tend to scale up. For example, a 50 raw study score in Latin or Specialist Mathematics will scale up to 55 (the scaled score contributes to the aggregate not the raw score).

Whilst scaling subjects can help bump up your aggregate it is important to weigh this up alongside your strengths and interest for the subject. You can see the scaling report for all VCE subjects in 2019 to gain an idea of the kind of scaling each subject receives.