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Your quick guide to ATAR 

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If you’ve studied at an Australian high school, the following questions might sound familiar: “What ATAR score did you get?”, “What ATAR do you want?”, “What ATAR do I need for X, Y, Z course?”. But maybe you’re wondering what an ATAR actually is, how it’s calculated, and how it can help you on your pathway to university. And is ATAR the only way to qualify for your preferred course? Below we answer your most frequently asked questions about ATAR! 

So, what is an ATAR? 

ATAR stands for the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank. It’s a grading system that ranks your work relative to that of other students in your year group. If you take at least four ATAR subjects, you’ll receive a ranking between zero and 99.95. A ranking of 70 means you’re in the top 30% of students in your year. 

What is a Selection Rank and is it different to ATAR? 

Most students will be selected for admission to university based on their ATAR. However, certain entry pathways, including Curtin’s StepUp, can grant you a ‘Selection Rank’ which is higher than your ATAR if you meet certain criteria based on socio-economic factors. 

If your ATAR is between 60 and 69.95, and you’re eligible for StepUp, your ATAR will be adjusted to 70. You’ll still need to have completed any prerequisite subjects that apply to your preferred course.  

If your ATAR is 70 or above, and you’re eligible for StepUp, you will receive five additional points, up to 99.95.  

How is an ATAR calculated?  

When you complete your WACE (Western Australian Certificate of Education) exams, your four highest scores will be added together to become your Tertiary Entrance Aggregate (TEA). A bonus 10% of your scaled score will also be added to your TEA if you study one of the following subjects: 

  • Language Other Than English ATAR 
  • Mathematics: Methods ATAR 
  • Mathematics: Specialist ATAR 

Your final TEA is then calculated and converted to an ATAR which is ranked relative to other year 12 students. The maximum possible TEA is currently 430, but this is set to change. See below for more info. 

Upcoming changes for ATAR 

From 2026, score bonuses for a range of subjects will be abolished. These include Mathematics: Methods, Mathematics: Specialist and languages. This means all courses will be weighted evenly and you won’t be positively or negatively impacted by your subject choices. The maximum TEA for all students will be 400. 

Find out more about changes to ATAR. 

Choosing the right school subjects 

When you’re choosing your high school subjects, think about your interests and strengths. Have a look at uni courses that appeal to you and see whether those courses require any specific background knowledge, called a prerequisite. Prerequisites can be met by passing an ATAR course in that subject, or studying it as part of an enabling program. A desirable subject is a school subject we recommend you study in high school that may have transferable knowledge for your preferred course. English proficiency is a prerequisite for all Curtin courses, and can be met in a range of ways

If you’re not sure where to start with your subject selection, or choosing a uni course, try Find U, our quick quiz that helps you match study areas with your strengths, interests and personality. 

Guaranteed and minimum ATARs 

 The ATAR required for university courses varies. Most courses have a guaranteed ATAR, meaning if you achieve that rank or higher – and meet the other criteria, like English and any prerequisites – you’re guaranteed entry.  

Some courses have a minimum ATAR, which is the minimum rank you need to be considered for entry, but places are competitive. 

You can find out the indicative guaranteed or minimum ATAR scores for each Curtin course at

What are typical ATAR rankings for admission to study courses like law and medicine at Curtin? 

Courses like medicine, law and physiotherapy typically require higher ATAR rankings in the mid-to-high nineties for admission. If you want to know the highest and lowest ATAR scores admitted into individual Curtin courses every year, you can find the information here: ATAR admission scores at Curtin.

Finding out your ATAR 

If you’ve completed at least one WACE exam and achieved a scaled score in a WACE course, you’ll be able to access your Year 12 exam results and ATAR on the TISC website from late December.  

Is ATAR the only pathway to university? 

The short answer is … no! There are many pathways to university, depending on your life and work experience. Whether you’re finishing high school, coming from TAFE, or considering a career change, at Curtin there is an entry pathway for you. 

Depending on your preferred course, you could apply for one of our enabling or bridging courses, submit a portfolio or qualify for admission based on your TAFE or AQF qualifications. 

To find out more about our different pathway options, visit our pathway finder tool:  

Still have questions? 

We’re happy to help! You can get in touch with our friendly team to chat through your options and get tailored advice. We can help with a wide range of queries, from choosing the right high school subjects to exploring your pathway options. 

You can get in touch online, book an appointment, or call us on 1300 222 888 during business hours.    

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