Benefit from tips to get a high ATAR and decide on your subjects for an outstanding ATAR. A comprehensive explanation to understand ATAR and its calculation.

What is ATAR

Easy guide for parents and students

Get insight into what scaling is, how ATAR works, and the right ATAR score for you.

Graduating from high school demands hard work from students, teachers, and parents alike. Year-long preparation and hard work translate into the ATAR. ATAR is significant for every student as it directs and controls the path of the student’s academic and career progress.

What is ATAR?

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank is a figure ranging between 0.00 and 99.95. It shows the position of a student in relation to other students from the same age group. A rank of 90.00 means that the student is above 90 percent of other students and is 10 percent from the top of your age group. Australian universities use it to select students for admission to their tertiary courses based on ATAR calculators. Other factors considered are a personal statement, an interview, test, etc., while getting the course of your choice. Each state in Australia calculates the ATAR for its students. For example, the ATAR calculated by NSW and ACT is considered equivalent to the ATAR of other states.

ATAR Subjects

ATAR courses get classified as either Category A or Category B courses. Also, only two units of Category B courses can contribute to your ATAR.

Criteria for Category A courses:

  • Academic rigour.
  • Depth of knowledge.
  • The degree to which the course contributes to assumed knowledge for tertiary studies.
  • The coherence with other subjects is included in the ATAR calculations.

Criteria for Category B courses:

  • The level of cognitive and performance demands are not regarded as satisfactory in themselves, though their contribution to a selection index is considered to be adequate if the other courses included in the aggregate are more academically demanding.*

Students, parents, and teachers struggle to decide on ATAR subjects. Which subjects would get you an excellent ATAR? Which courses should you avoid?  It would be best if you chose subjects with a solid foundation. Subjects that you are passionate about should figure amongst your ATAR subjects. Do keep in mind that certain schools require all their students to complete a particular class, and all students are also required to complete an English course to achieve a high ATAR score.

A brief outline of ATAR calculation in different states of Australia

ATAR calculator while determining the performance of a student. Each state has its ATAR calculator and calculations.

ATAR calculation in New South Wales

Your ATAR is based on an aggregate of scaled marks in 10 units of ATAR courses comprising your:

  • best 2 units of English
  • best 8 units from your remaining units, which can include no more than two units of Category B courses.
  • You must still satisfactorily complete at least four subjects to be eligible for an ATAR.*

ATAR calculation in Queensland

  • An ATAR is calculated using either a student’s best 5 General subject results OR a student’s best results across 4 General subjects plus one other result from an approved study ( an Applied subject result, a completed VET qualification).

  • Satisfactory completion of a QCAA English subject is required for an ATAR calculation.

ATAR calculation in South Australia

  • The university aggregate is from your best-scaled scores from three 20 credit TAS (60 credits) plus the best outcome from the flexible option (30 credits).

  • Scaled scores are calculated for you out of 20.0 for 20 credit subjects and out of 10.0 for 10 credit subjects. If you don’t attempt the publicly assessed component of a TAS (e.g., an exam or final recital), you will be given a scaled score of 0.0. Remember that even your subjects with a scaled score of 0.0 can be included to calculate the university aggregate.*



ATAR calculation in Victoria

The ATAR is calculated with an aggregate score, which has:

  • The highest scaled score in one of the English studies ( English, English Language, English as an Additional Language, Literature)
  • The highest scaled study scores for three additional permissible studies,


  • 10% of the scaled study scores for the fifth and sixth acceptable studies.*


ATAR calculation in ACT

  • Scaling is an adjustment of the course scores to bring them to a mean and standard deviation related to the student’s performance on the AST and their best 4-course scores.
  • Scaled scores are added to get Aggregate Score addedThe Aggregate Score is the number produced by adding the best three scaled scores from major courses and 0.6 of the following best course scores (either major or minor).*


ATAR Rankings

The ATAR calculations consider several aspects of the student’s studies and performance. 

Since a wide range of subjects is taken up by students, scaling is applied while calculating ATAR. This method ensures that no one has an advantage or disadvantage in choosing a course over other courses. Scaling works on the premise that it calculates your marks to what it can be if all the students choose the same courses. Not only that, but it also calculates based on all the courses having the same marks distribution. Scaling acts like an equaliser, leveling the field.

One subject might be more challenging to score in as compared to another. The marks allocation might vary too, from subject to subject. A standard scale is devised to make the comparison of the marks easier.

Scaling factors are applied to HSC marks to create ATAR points for each subject. Your HSC marks are not considered for ATAR calculations. It is your scaled marks that will be taken into account. Due to this, high HSC marks do not translate to high scaled scores.

Your scaled mark in a course is determined by:

  •  your position in the course 
  •  the scaled mean for that course. 

School Scaling

Your school rank is important while calculating your ATAR. You might have academically scored well, but your rank or position in the class and school matters. For example, you attained 80 percent in your English exam, but the school average was 85 percent. These figures mean you have scored less than the school average.

results and atar

HSC Marks

Your High School Certificate marks announce your examination result. Your result gets classified as per the band allocated for marks. So if you score 92 in a subject, your subject Band is Band 6. An HSC mark is the average of a student’s assessment and examination marks.

For example, if you rank 1 in your school, achieving 95 marks but scoring 85 in your HSC, your average is 90 marks.
HSC results for each course are graded in bands as follows:

2-unit subjects:

  • Band 6 = 90 – 100 marks
  • Band 5 = 80 – 89 marks
  • Band 4 = 70 – 79 marks
  • Band 3 = 60 – 69 marks
  • Band 2 = 50 – 59 marks
  • Band 1 = 0 – 49 marks


An ATAR calculator gets your score from the total of the scaled marks from your top ten scoring units. For example, each unit is marked as 50 points, so the top ten units have a value of 500 points, and your total mark becomes your Aggregate. This aggregate mark determines an ATAR.

Your HSC marks are not used for ATAR calculations but your scaled marks. Therefore, your scaled pattern will be lower than your HSC mark for most courses if you choose.

Your position will influence your scaled mark in a course and the scaled mean for that course.

What is the good ATAR average?

The average ATAR score is 70.00. This is high because the number of students who stay in school to receive their ATAR is smaller. 

Such an average can get you into many courses across Australian universities.

How to get a 90 ATAR?

It might sound like a tough nut to crack, but one can get a 90 ATAR with specific reliable strategies.

Study Smart. Prioritise

Know what you intend to study. Focus on your weak subjects more. Low marks in one will bring down your overall performance. Allocate time according to the subjects that require extra work. Attempting as many practice exams as possible is what 90.00 ATAR achievers swear by. Constant assessment and evaluation through the tests get you ready well in advance. Make notes, study them as much as you can. 

Take school seriously

Participate in class discussions, submit your assignments on time, and consult with your teachers for guidance. Doing this builds the base for your performance and gives you enough time for exam preparation. You will also be motivated constantly to work hard.

Register for online tutoring

Competing with thousands of students can be overwhelming. And you might feel stressed when it comes to preparing for your exams. This is where tutoring steps play a significant role. Platforms like Edulyte offer exemplary tutoring by highly qualified subject matter experts. You can take affordable classes from the comfort of your home. The proper guidance regarding preparation will fetch you a high ATAR.

Utilise all resources

The internet gives you access to abundant resources with a few clicks. Check out all preparation material and practice papers online. The Board of Studies website also offers resources that are a boon for students. Look for online communities where discussions are held regarding strategies and tips to achieve a high ATAR.

Enjoy your breaks

Studying for 5 -7 hours each day is not the best way to get a 90.00 ATAR. Taking regular breaks reboots your mind. It is good to include physical activity in your routine. Eat well and prepare for a high ATAR depends on your physical and mental well-being.

What is a good ATAR score?

Aim high. And then work for it. That should be the mantra for a good ATAR score. But what is a good ATAR score? A score range of 85-95 is an excellent score to ensure admission to a good university. Aiming for a score like this allows you to get into most universities across Australia. Also, it will enable you to allot time to other priorities and activities.

Language analysis techniques

Language Analysis or Analysing Argument is part of the English course section. Students are to excel at it as it is considered an essential skill for further studies and careers. ATAR calculations depend on this as well. Attempting the Language Analysis section means you have to reflect on the persuasive methods used by the author of the text. The texts provided can vary: from political statements to global issues. The texts are based on rhetorical questions, expert opinions, statistics, alliteration, and appeals.

how atar is calculated

How to perfect the Language Analysis?

Comprehend the argument and viewpoint

Firstly, you have to figure this out, as your analysis is based on it. The context presented can be accessible for you if you are familiar with it. Otherwise, you have to read it a couple of times to conclude it carefully.

Analyse persuasive language and visuals

You have to reflect on the language the author has crafted to present the author’s view and how it is used to persuade the reader’s viewpoint. Inclusive language, rhetorical questions are a part of the language techniques used in this context. BE specific and do not just pick up the author’s words in this task.

Work on vocabulary

Use terms that will make you stand out. For example, instead of saying constantly, use the word recurring. An organised system can be called hierarchical. For this, you can prepare your guide. First, make a list of terms and expressions. Then, find more apt and appropriate words to replace the commonly used words. 

Rhetorical questions

The writer wants to think about an issue’s stand in this technique. In a rhetorical situation, the reader is influenced by the writer. In language analysis, you have to analyse how the writer communicates an argument, not what the writer argues.

Like: Do you think eating processed food will keep you healthy?

The aim is to encourage you to think that processed food is not suitable for you in the long run. In addition, the writer wants concern over its consumption raised in your thoughts. Do deal with such texts, question yourself: what is being asked?

Expert Opinion and Credentials

Also employed as a persuasive device, students can conduct an in-depth analysis to figure out certain things: who is the expert/are the experts? Why did the author consider their opinion? What language is employed for the expert? Your analysis should combine both: what is the expert opinion, and in what light is the author using the argument.


Numbers and percentages are used by the author when it comes to statistics. The figures are rendered as proof to support the author’s stand regarding the topic. Scan the words used with the figures like:

  • Over 50%
  • Almost 50%
  • Only 1200

Use these words to create a point, a relationship with the author’s impact. 

Inclusive language

To analyse this technique, ask yourself: what is the author trying to make you a part of in the text? In which group is he placing you?

The author’s language gives you a clue how the author is trying to include you.

Blogs, guides and more

Learning lessons, study tips, career guides, tutoring resources and much more!

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the ATAR calculated?

The ATAR calculator determines your result from the scaled marks for an individual’s top ten scoring units. For example, each unit is worth 50 points, so the top ten units have 500 points.

How to get a high ATAR?

There is no shortcut to getting a high ATAR. You have to :

  • Work hard: It is advisable you start from Year 11 and not procrastinate till Year 12. Time flies. And you will fall behind in your preparation if you don’t start early.
  • Plan well: layout your goals and study schedule and plan your time on each subject. Allocate more time to subjects you are not confident in scoring.
  • Practice and Practice: assess yourself regularly. Go back to the concepts frequently. Revise every day.
  • Register for effective tutoring: a support system from qualified tutors ensures a high ATAR score for you. Edulyte as a platform offering online tutoring from tutors with outstanding academic backgrounds. They are well versed with the ATAR system and can provide you with techniques to excel in your exams. 
  • Get acquainted with exam format: go through the practice tests. Include past tests in your studies. Familiarise with the way questions are asked in the exams.
  • Employ innovative techniques: use diagrams, charts, or other visuals to help retain the topic—Mark essential keywords. Devise strategies that will make learning more accessible and fun.
What subjects get scaled-down in ATAR?

Do not think that scaling depends on the difficulty level of a subject. All the subject’s curriculums are devised to present the same level of challenge. Maths and science subjects are scaled up, and arts subjects are scaled-down. English and business subjects will usually remain the same.

What is the highest ATAR you can get?

The ATAR calculates an Australian student’s overall academic achievement compared with other final-year students. 99.95 is the highest possible score. Students across Australia have achieved 99.5 as ATAR in the past.

How many students get 99 ATAR?

The percentage of students who attain a 99 ATAR varies each year from one state to another state. However, students have been attaining this rank over the years, which shows it isn’t impossible to achieve it if you invest time and effort. 


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