Monash experts: 2023 ATAR results explained and what to do if you didn’t get the score you wanted

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Monash University

Thousands of Year 12 students will receive their ATAR scores today, some will be elated by their results, while others could be feeling anxious or disappointed. Monash University experts are available to comment on the expectation among students, teachers and parents, the process of receiving your ATAR and what options students have once they receive their results.

Dr Ilana Finefter-Rosenbluh, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education Culture & Society, Faculty of Education, Monash University 
Contact: +61 3 9903 4840 or 
Read more of Dr Ilana Finefter-Rosenbluh’s work at Monash Lens

The following can be attributed to Dr Finefter-Rosenbluh:

“ATAR remains the primary route to university, with approximately three-quarters of high school students relying on it for admission. Around 60 per cent of students rely solely on ATAR for entry, while 14 per cent supplement it with other criteria like extra exams, auditions, or portfolios. Notably, the proportion of admitted students entering via non-ATAR routes has increased from 15 per cent in 2016 to 25 per cent. It’s important to recognise that beyond ATAR, there are diverse post-school pathways such as TAFE or various employment opportunities that do not hinge on ATAR scores.

“Universities provide diverse ‘non-ATAR-based pathways’ catering to individuals aspiring for a university education. These pathways encompass various program options and related fields, allowing students the flexibility to transition into their desired courses in the first or second year, contingent upon their performance and situation. It’s essential to note that a course’s cut-off score doesn’t always reflect the minimum ATAR needed for entry, as it incorporates bonus points. Many students with ATARs below the cut-off score still receive offers.

“ATAR continues to hold significant sway in Australian university admissions. Nevertheless, certain universities and specific degree programs appear to place emphasis on additional assessment metrics like portfolios, entry tests, auditions and interviews.

“The ATAR was introduced in 2009 and ranks students between 0.00 and 99.95 based on their performance in Years 11 and 12. It’s a strong predictor of university success, correlating with first-year grades and the likelihood of academic challenges.”

Dr Pearl Subban, Senior Lecturer Educational Psychology and Inclusive Education, Monash Education 
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or
Read more of Dr Subban’s at Monash Lens

What does a student do if their ranking is too low for university
entrance? Below Dr Subban has outlined some alternative options:

Option 1: Consider a VET pathway via Technical and Further Education (TAFE)

“Vocational Education and Training (VET), offered at most TAFEs, presents a viable alternate entry point, through the acquisition of practical skills and qualifications. This could lead to the career that a student aspires to, but merely chooses a different pathway.

Option 2: Bridging or Foundation Programs

“Many universities now offer bridging or foundation programs that equip and prepare students for higher education. Often, these programs often have lower entry requirements than traditional degree programs and can help students build the necessary skills and knowledge for university.

Option 3: Online and Open Universities

“Following the global pandemic, many universities offer online programs of study with lower entry requirements. These are self-paced and sometimes non-traditional, presenting students with more accessible platforms for study.

Option 4: Entry as a Mature-Aged Student

“Some students may choose to wait a few years before committing to study programs. These may include a stint in the job market before accessing university life. These students will be eligible for mature-aged entry into university, which could also consider their life and work experience as part of their entry requirements.

Option 5: Short Courses or Non-Degree Programs

“Many study options exist outside of traditional academic courses. These may align more effectively with the student’s career trajectory, since these may incrementally prepare students for a particular pathway or industry.

Reaching a career goal may not always be uncomplicated but the consideration of alternative pathways will still result in success for aspirational students.”


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