On the 20th of December this year, thousands of VCE students across Victoria will receive their ATAR score. For these students, for better or for worse, their VCE journey is at an end; they have worked hard, studied for hours on end and (hopefully) received the results required to gain them entry to their desired University course.
For students commencing year 11 or 12 in 2014, the journey has only just begun. And often, for these students and their parents, the task of achieving a high ATAR score can seem like a scary, daunting and complicated process. What makes matters worse is how many parents and students don’t even know how the ATAR score is calculated.
If this sounds like you, then read on. Today, I will be explaining how the ATAR is calculated and, based on this explanation, giving some tips on how you and your child can maximise their chances of ATAR success!
How Is The ATAR Calculated?
1. Firstly, each student will usually complete between 4-6 subjects. Based on their exam and SAC scores, they will receive an ATAR Subject Score out of 50 for each of their subjects. This is not a simple score, but a ranking, in which a score of 50 indicates the highest performing students and 30 is the average.
2. Next, because some subjects may be more competitive than others, some subjects will be “scaled up” and some may be “scaled down.” This means that a certain number of points will be added on to, or subtracted from, the raw ATAR Subject Score. It is worth noting that higher performing students will not have their scores scaled down. The degree to which each subject is scaled is determined on a yearly basis. To check out the extent to which subjects were scaled in 2012, check out this link!
3. The ATAR Aggregate is then calculated. It is found by adding
-Your best ATAR Subject Score in any one of the English studies
-The ATAR Subject Scores of your next best three studies
-10 per cent of the ATAR Subject Score for a fifth study (where available),
-10 per cent of the ATAR Subject Score for a sixth study (where available)
(It is worth noting that, as shown, an English subject MUST be one of your top 4 subjects)
4. The ATAR Aggregate is then used to rank all students. The final ATAR score is an indication of the students rank within their year. For example, a score of 97 indicates that the student has performed better than 97% of students. ATAR scores are given in intervals of 0.05, and the highest possible score is 99.95.
What does this mean?
This may seem complicated, but there are a few useful pieces of advice that you can get from understanding the way in which the ATAR system works…
1. Do not neglect English.
English is the only subject that MUST be one of your child’s top 4 subjects. As such, a poor performance in English will affect your child’s score dramatically. English is also one of the more difficult subjects, as it requires students to think in different and complex ways about a particular text. At Spectrum Tuition, we spend all year preparing our students for their final English exams, giving them as much diverse and practical experience as possible.
2. Your top 4 subjects are important.
It is important for your child to have a strong top 4 subjects. They are the subjects that make up most of the mark. Whilst it is important to do well in all subjects, you should make sure that your child is confident in getting an excellent score in at least four of their subjects.
3. High subject scores are not scaled down
In year 12, my friend was very concerned because she was doing a lot of subjects, such as Psychology and Graphic design, that get scaled down. She was worried that this would ruin her chances of getting a good enter score. Because she knew this, she made sure to focus a lot of attention on these subjects. She made a clear study plan, and got a tutor to help with her exam preparation. In the end, she got a 50 for Psychology, and so it wasn’t scaled down at all! If your child is taking a subject that gets scaled down, they need to be aware that this is not an “easy subject”. If they want to achieve, they will have to work extra hard on these subjects to make sure they are scaled down as little as possible.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments! If you would like to see a first-hand account of how ATAR scores are calculated, check out this handy ATAR score calculator.