The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is a rank given to students on a range from 0 to 99.95.
SATAC calculates the ATAR for SACE and NTCET students.
What is the ATAR used for?
Tertiary institutions use the ATAR to select students for their courses.
Course selection can be competitive. This happens when courses have more applicants than places available to offer. For this reason, the institutions need a way of ranking applicants for each course.
The ATAR is a fair and transparent tool for comparing the results of students who are applying for the same course but have likely studied different subjects at school.
The ATAR shows how you performed in your studies compared to other students in your age group.
How to get an ATAR (SACE/NTCET students)
To qualify for an ATAR you need a university aggregate. SATAC calculates the university aggregate by combining the scaled scores from your best 90 credits of study.
To be eligible for a university aggregate you will need to:
- qualify for the SACE/NTCET
- follow the rules for precluded combinations
- follow the rules for counting restrictions
- complete at least 90 credits of study in Tertiary Admissions Subjects (TAS) and Recognised Studies at Stage 2 in no more than three attempts which need not be in consecutive years
- of the 90 credits of study at least 60 credits of study must be from 20 credit TAS*
* 10 credit subjects usually don’t count towards this rule but some 10 credit subjects in the same learning area, when studied in pairs, can substitute for a 20 credit subject. These are valid pairs.
How SATAC calculates the ATAR
To calculate an ATAR from your university aggregate, we need to look at the percentage of students who achieved the same aggregate as you, or better.
This allows SATAC to assign a percentile rank (between 0 and 100) for each university aggregate achieved. For example:
- You get an aggregate of 78.00 out of 90.00
- 10% of students also get 78.00 out of 90.00 or better
- The aggregate of 78.00 now corresponds to rank of 90.00 (100 minus 10)
We do this every year for SACE and NTCET students who qualify for a university aggregate. The group of students who qualify for an aggregate in 2020 is the 2020 cohort.
The next step is looking where the 2020 cohort sits compared to the entire population of students across Australia who are in the same age group.
The 2020 cohort may differ from other years in that it may represent a smaller or larger percentage of the population who are in the same age group. The percentage from the given year is the participation rate.
We calculate the participation rate using population statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and measuring these against the size of the cohort.
SATAC adjusts the percentile rank to take account of the participation rate and where you sit relative to the entire population. The result is the ATAR.
So, if you achieve an ATAR of 95.00 it shows that you performed as well as, or better than, 95% of the population.
It is important to remember that the ATAR is a rank, not a score. It compares overall performance across the group, rather than individual performance in specific subjects. Its main use is to select students for tertiary courses.
The conversion of university aggregate to ATAR changes every year. It depends on population data for 16 to 20-year-olds in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
SATAC publishes information showing this relationship each year. The information relates to SACE and NTCET students.
Note that historical conversion tables will not predict future year ATARs with accuracy. They provide a record of how the ATAR was awarded to students in a given year.
Earlier conversion tables (before 2012) are not available online.
IB students don’t receive an ATAR. You will receive IB points on a scale from 0 to 45 for your studies.
When you’re applying for university courses you will need a rank that is comparable to students who have received an ATAR. To allow fair comparison, SATAC converts your IB points to a selection rank equivalent to an ATAR.
The equivalent ATAR is the same across Australia. The following table shows how the IB points (in the range 24-45) are converted to an equivalent ATAR.
|IB to ATAR|
|IB points*||Equivalent ATAR|
*IB points total (in the range 24-45), derived from the results gained in both higher level and standard level subjects and possibly augmented by bonus points based on the standard achieved in the extended essay and theory of knowledge.
Further information about determining ATAR equivalents for IB students is published by the Australian Conference of Tertiary Admissions Centres (ACTAC):
ATARs are comparable across all states and territories in Australia. An ATAR of 81.00 in South Australia is the same as an ATAR of 81.00 in any other state or territory.