After 12+ months of obsessing over your ATAR, getting your final result may come as a shock, a relief, or maybe even a bit of both. It’s tough to believe all your hard work and study throughout Year 12 boils down to a single number out of 99.95.
Around this time, it’s normal to have a rollercoaster of emotions and plenty of questions, like:
What is a good ATAR score?
What is a bad ATAR score?
What is the average ATAR score?
Btw, the term “ATAR score” is redundant since the R stands for “Rank”. But that’s probably not your top concern right now.
As you read this with your received or predicted ATAR in mind, make sure to remember that comparing yourself to others is only healthy in moderation. They say comparison is the thief of joy because, truth is, there will always be someone with a higher or lower ATAR than you. That’s life.
So, if you find yourself overthinking or stressing too much, it’s helpful to understand just how important your ATAR really is. (Hint: It’ll help you get into university, but it’s basically redundant after that.)
OK, so what’s a good ATAR?
Honestly, it’s subjective.
Sure, you could measure the goodness of your ATAR based on how it compares to the goal you set for yourself. You might think about whether it reflects how much effort and dedication you put into your assignments and exam prep. Maybe you’ve got an academic rival who was always one mark higher or lower than you in tests, so a good ATAR means being in the same ballpark as they are.
But, at the end of the day, your ATAR is only “good” if it’s what you needed to get into your ideal university program. And that’s pretty much the only metric that matters.
What’s a bad ATAR score then?
You might judge an ATAR as “bad” if it doesn’t match up with your hopes and expectations, or perhaps if it’s lower than peers who you usually aligned with in school grades.
But, just like a “good” ATAR, this is all subjective.
An ATAR is only truly negative if it prevents you from entering the uni program you had your heart set on.
If you’re feeling particularly surprised or disheartened about your ATAR, it might help to see the bigger picture. Here are a couple of FAQs about high, low and average ATARs.
The highest ATAR score possible is 99.95. So, if you’re fretting about missing a perfect 100 by 0.05 points, rest assured your score is right at the ceiling. (And with an ATAR like that, you’ve really got nothing to fret about anyway.)
An ATAR of 100 is literally impossible because you’d have to beat your own score to achieve it. And that’s a paradox.
An ATAR of 99 means you performed better than 99% of other students. So, for example, with around 32,700 Year 12 students in Queensland in 2023, only 327 or so students in the state could receive an ATAR of 99 or higher.
Due to the way ATAR is calculated, you might expect the average ATAR to be exactly 50 – getting higher marks than half of your year group but lower marks than the other half. However, because some students don’t go on to receive an ATAR (they leave school early), the average ATAR usually ends up being around 70 instead.
While ATARs are all between 0 and 99.95, the lowest rank that actually gets reported is 30. All students who score below this are recorded simply as “less than 30”. So, if you were hoping to get an ego boost by finding out the lowest ATAR score ever, sorry my friend but QTAC would say that information is classified.
Maybe you’re proud of your ATAR. Maybe you’re a little disappointed. Either way, just remember that this number is there to help you get into uni. And then it’ll never affect your life again.
So, while it’s perfectly natural to stress a little or maybe even obsess over your ATAR, keep in mind this number doesn’t define you or your future. If it’s what you needed to get into your preferred program, that’s great. But, if not, there are other pathways you can take to get where you want to be.
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.