The rumours are true. There’s a magical bonus you can get to boost your ATAR and help you get into the uni program of your dreams. It’s called – drum roll please – adjustment factors.
Unfortunately, these adjustments aren’t thrown around like red frogs at schoolies – you need to meet specific criteria to be eligible to receive them. But they can give you a competitive edge when applying for your preferred program, especially if your ATAR falls a bit lower than you were expecting.
Here’s how adjustment factors work.
Throughout this article, when we talk about adjustment factors, rank adjustments or bonus ATAR points, we’re talking about the same thing.
What are adjustment factors?
It’s worth noting that while many people refer to adjustment factors as extra ATAR points, they don’t actually add to your overall ATAR. It’s like a little bonus that tertiary institutions (such as universities) add onto your ATAR to increase your selection rank, helping you get into specific programs at that institution.
For example: you put down a Bachelor of Science at UQ as your first preference through QTAC. It has an entry score threshold of 80. You receive a 78 ATAR, but because you attended school at Mount Isa, you receive 2 adjustments from UQ for living in a remote area, boosting your selection rank to 80. As long as you meet the subject prerequisites, you are now eligible to gain entry into this course.
It’s also important to know that different institutions have different types of adjustment factors and vary the maximum number of rank adjustments you can gain – for UQ, it’s a max of 5.
What can you get bonus ATAR points for?
So, what exactly can you get adjustment factors for? Different universities provide rank adjustments for different things, but here are the main reasons.
Most universities offer bonus ATAR points for achieving a particular grade or higher in specific Year 12 subjects. You’ll need to check out the university’s website to see what Year 12 subjects they give rank adjustments for, and how many adjustments you can receive.
2 adjustments for achieving a grade of C or higher in Units 3 and 4 of Queensland Specialist Mathematics (or equivalent)
1 adjustment for successfully completing a university-level enrichment course concurrently with your senior program (e.g. our Enhanced Studies Program).
As we mentioned above, you can receive rank adjustments if you’ve lived in an Australian rural or remote location for 5 years in a row or 10 years throughout the course of your life (you may have moved back and forth, but the total amount of time spent at that location was 10 years).
'How do you know if you live in a rural or remote location?', you may ask. Easy:
Head over to Health Workforce Locator, select the ‘2016’ checkbox which will show you the ‘Australian Statistical Geographic Standard Remoteness Areas’ information on the map.
Enter your current or previous address into the ‘find address’ box and hit the ‘search location’ button.
If your address is classified as a remoteness area (RA) 2 to 5, you should be eligible for adjustment points.
Some universities give out rank adjustments if you choose to attend your local uni rather than seeking tertiary education elsewhere. Simple as that.
QTAC’s Educational Access Scheme (EAS) helps QTAC applicants whose recent study was impacted by financial or personal challenges. Through the EAS, you can acquire adjustment points and even financial assistance from your tertiary institution (if you’re experiencing financial hardship).
There are 5 categories in the EAS and you can apply for as many as you feel are applicable to your situation. They are:
home environment and responsibilities
English language difficulty
personal illness or disability
school environment (previously called ‘educational disruption’).
For example: If a student at your school died in a car accident, and this had a severe impact on your school environment and studies, you could apply for the school environment category. If you live on a farm, and have been affected by drought, perhaps meaning you’ve had to spend more time supporting your family and working on your property, you could apply for the home environment and responsibilities category.
Visit the QTAC website for more information on each category and eligibility requirements.
Through the EAS, the UQ Link Scholarship provides 5 entry rank adjustments and $3000 a year to students who have experienced educational disadvantage as a result of financial hardship, who are undertaking tertiary studies for the first time.
Some universities may offer admissions schemes for elite athletes and performers, which can include adjustment factors. These schemes are designed to support an athlete or performer with their studies while they train for professional events. This is one of the reasons our student body and alumni include Olympic athletes, Paralympic athletes, Broncos, and Firebirds.
Australian water polo champion Gabi Palm attends UQ
Other noteworthy admissions schemes
They may not necessarily give you extra ATAR points, but they will help you get into your chosen program if you’re eligible.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander admissions schemes
Most tertiary institutions have schemes to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to get into the program they wish to study. Find out more about UQ’s admissions pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
UQ’s undergraduate law admission scheme
This one is specific to UQ and is for school leavers from an educationally disadvantaged or culturally diverse background wishing to study law. Read the criteria to see if it can help you gain entry into a law program at UQ.
How do I apply for rank adjustments?
The process to apply for adjustment factors can differ depending on which ones you’re applying for, and through what institution.
You can apply for all EAS categories through QTAC – you just need to check the EAS box on your application and provide the relevant supporting documentation. QTAC will then assess your suitability for the scheme.
You may receive some adjustment factors without needing to do anything, such as those connected to attending your local university and completing specific Year 12 courses. Others you will need to apply for through QTAC or the institution itself.
The best way to find out what you need to do is to check the websites of the universities you’ve listed as a preference, to see if they provide any specific directions for applying for rank adjustments or admissions schemes.
Spending a lot of time stressing about your ATAR? We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the situation with your long-term goggles on, because in the grand scheme of things, does your ATAR really matter? We take a pragmatic approach to tackle this contentious question.