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More than your ATAR: When your results aren’t what you expected

By December 18, 2020No Comments

Today you accessed your ATAR. All those years of school, relentless hours of study and the pressure of assessment and exams, and it all comes down to the number you receive today. Right?

Absolutely not. You are more than your ATAR.

If you followed the tips provided in our More than your ATAR series you may have already completed the steps to research your ideal career and found the perfect course at your preferred institution. If you have, and you got the marks you needed, congratulations!

But, sometimes in life things don’t go quite to plan…and it is 2020 right?! In this case, it could be you didn’t get the ATAR needed for admission into your preferred institute.

This is not the end of the world; it is an opportunity to revisit your plans and demonstrate your determination and resilience…which we know you have.

There are many pathways to your preferred course. Now is the time to research another way to get where you want to be. Talk to your careers advisor, family and friends and get in touch with individual institutions to discuss the options available to you.


In some fields of study, universities will have a different ATAR entry for similar courses. Investigate and review the available universities for their ATAR requirements for the same or a similar course.


A ‘pathway’ is an alternative route to your first choice. A pathway could look like enrolling in a similar course at another university with the view to transferring institutions, or look to entering your specialisation after you have completed an alternative Bachelor course. For example, Arts before Law or Design before Architecture.


Universities today recognise that your ATAR is only a snapshot of time and not who you are. More and more universities are offering special entry schemes or bonus scores for those who may have extenuating circumstances. This may allow you to enter with a lower ATAR or access scholarships.  Look up their websites or speak to the universities, or visit this UAC page to find out if you are eligible and how to access these intitatives.


Review your career options and see if there is another institute that offers study options in that field. For example, TAFE or other VET institutions and private colleges can offer specialised ‘hands-on’ training, that is becoming increasingly popular with students and employers alike.

Some of these VET institutions may have university partnerships and can act as a bridge to university where they will credit your year in VET sector study.


Perhaps a gap year might be an option for you to regroup. It can be a good time to travel, or work to save some cash and think about what is next for you. Remember, a gap year isn’t for everyone, and if post-school study is important to you, make sure you have a plan about how to get back into education. We recommend you carefully weigh up whether that is appropriate for your circumstances.


CEF has partnered with our friends at the University of Sydney, the University of Canberra and the University of Wollongong to develop The Gap Year Guide, a free online resource to help people decide about gap years and transitioning from a gap year to university or other further study.

Trust us when we tell you, once you have started your study or entered the workforce, no one is going to care about your ATAR. It’s you that will achieve whatever you desire, a number won’t stop you.