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 UQ's Bachelor of Science 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.
Wondering what subjects boost your ATAR score for entry into UQ? You can receive a max of 5 adjustments through UQ's Subject Incentive Scheme, for the following:
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. The major Queensland universities award rank adjustments if you have lived in a 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:
*Please note: this is how Queensland universities define rural and remote to award extra ATAR points under the Rural Access Scheme. Definitions of rural and remote differ in other Australian states. Check the website of the university you wish to apply to or your local Tertiary Admissions Centre for more information.
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.
How many EAS points do I get?
How many EAS bonus points you receive will depend upon the university you are applying to. If you tick the 'financial hardship' category in the EAS section of your QTAC application, you will automatically be considered for the UQ Link Scholarship, should you list UQ as one of your preferences. 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.
The additional categories below are not recognised as adjustment factors at UQ.
Some universities give out rank adjustments if you choose to attend your local uni rather than seeking tertiary education elsewhere.
Some universities may offer adjustment factors to elite athletes and performers. Others offer programs or scholarships designed to support an athlete or performer throughout their studies and while they train for professional events.
While UQ doesn't award bonus ATAR points to elite athletes, you're still very much welcome here and encouraged to apply for our Elite Athlete Program. This program assists student-athletes, including Olympians, Paralympians, Commonwealth Games and Professional athletes, to achieve their academic and sporting goals through the entirety of their degree.
Do you get extra ATAR points for Duke of Ed?
Some universities offer adjustment factors for students who have completed certain levels of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award. However, QTAC does not recognise Duke of Ed for university entry. Likewise, if you're wondering 'does Duke of Ed give ATAR points for entry into UQ?', the answer is no. However, Duke of Ed will set you up with the skills and experience to continue your leadership training through various UQ programs and initiatives, so it's certainly still worth pursuing in high school if you are able to commit time and effort to it.
Appolonia received 5 adjustment factors when she applied for the Educational Access Scheme (EAS) through QTAC and qualified for the UQ Link Scholarship.
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
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 tick 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.
Want to speak with a UQ study adviser about what you can do with your ATAR? Join our ATAR Advice online event for answers and advice.