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How to get into uni without an ATAR

How to get into uni without an ATAR

Study tips
Published 15 Aug, 2023  ·  6-minute read

With so much emphasis placed on one result, at one specific time of your life, wondering how to get into university without an ATAR can be a daunting prospect. But hundreds of people do it every year.

Several factors may have prevented you from receiving an ATAR. Perhaps you took non-ATAR subjects in high school and have changed your mind about wanting to go to uni, or you’re a non-school leaver looking to pursue higher education after multiple years in the workforce. Whatever is the case, your first question is bound to be...

Can you get into uni without an ATAR?

The answer is yes – there are multiple non-ATAR pathways to uni. You just need to find the one that best suits you and your circumstances.

Jump to the information that's relevant for you:

What if you’re finishing Year 12 but didn’t take ATAR subjects?

In Queensland, to get an ATAR, you need to complete 1 of the key English courses and 5 general subjects OR 4 general subjects, plus an applied subject or VET course (Certificate III or higher). If your high school subjects didn’t fall into one of these categories, then you won’t receive an ATAR.

But don’t panic. If you’re finishing Year 12 this year and you’ve changed your mind, deciding you want to go to uni after all, you still have options.

Three students holding papers compare notes with one another in front of green plants

What if you take a gap year?

Many Year 12 students choose to take a gap year after high school to give themselves a break from study so they can approach their university education fresh.

If you received an ATAR and an offer from a university, you can defer your studies for up to one year through QTAC.This means your offer still stands for you to study the following year, and you don’t have to re-apply to your program of choice – just enrol in your first semester courses by the due date.

There are terms to your deferment, however. During your gap year, you can’t enrol in study at bachelor level or higher at any tertiary institution (including the institution your deferment is with) if you have already deferred your studies through QTAC.

What if you’ve been out of high school for several years?

If you’ve been out of high school for several years and would like to commence or recommence your first bachelor's degree, we’re here to help you figure out where to start. As a non-school leaver (sometimes also referred to as a mature-aged student), you may have a few options for getting into uni.

How to get into uni as a non-school leaver if you didn’t get an ATAR

The first thing you probably want to know is how to get an ATAR. But an ATAR isn't actually what you're looking for. If you didn’t get an ATAR, OP (Overall Position; the ranking method in Queensland before ATARs were introduced) or similar ranking for your high school exams, you'll want to know how to get a QTAC selection rank to get into uni in Queensland. Here are a few of the most common ways to obtain a selection rank.

How to get into uni as a non-school leaver if you received an ATAR or OP

If you've been out of school for a few years and your Year 12 exams seem like a distant memory (or fever dream), you may be wondering 'does ATAR expire?'. The good news is, your ATAR doesn’t expire. HOWEVER, if you’ve undertaken (even if you haven't completed) tertiary studies such as a bachelor's degree, diploma or certificate since finishing high school, the university may calculate your selection rank from your grade point average (GPA) for these studies, rather than your ATAR or OP (Overall Position; the ranking method in Queensland before ATARs were introduced). Contact the university you wish to study at to find out how to attain your selection rank if you have an ATAR or OP but you’ve also previously enrolled in tertiary education.

In some cases, UQ may be able to disregard tertiary study from more than 5 years ago. Get in touch with UQ's Future Students Contact Centre for more information.

When you ask yourself “How can I get into uni without an ATAR?”, think about your circumstances, experiences and strengths. This will help you choose the right pathway to university, and the option that will assist you to achieve the highest selection rank you can.

If you need further advice, call or email UQ’s friendly Future Students Contact Centre to talk over your options.

Remember, obtaining a selection rank is just one part of what you need to get into a university program. You’ll also need to meet subject prerequisites, any program-specific requirements and inherent requirements (if applicable). Find out more about entry requirements.

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