ATARs and selection ranks – what you need to know

29 Nov 2018

Lowest ATAR, Guaranteed ATAR, selection rank – these terms are often used by UAC and the unis. But what do they mean and why do you need to know about them in Years 11 and 12?


Let’s start with the most important point: how these terms affect you. 

They all tell you something about the recent school leavers admitted to each uni course in the previous year. And you’re given this information so that you can take it into consideration when choosing your course preferences in your application. 

For example, if you don’t think you’ll get an ATAR high enough for a course that has previously required a very high ATAR or selection rank, then you’d be wise to choose a back-up course with an ATAR closer to what you expect to achieve. Once ATARs are released in December, you’ll have a couple of days to finalise your preferences for the first big offer round, so you’ll have an even better idea then of what you’re likely to get into.

ATARS AND SELECTION RANKS - THE DIFFERENCE

What’s the difference between ATARs and selection ranks?

Your ATAR, or Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, is a number between 0 and 99.95 – a rank which tells you about how you’ve gone in the HSC overall compared to other students. 

Your selection rank is your ATAR plus any adjustments made by a university. Adjustments are used to increase your selection rank due to factors such as your performance in HSC subjects, the location of your school, or your eligibility for Educational Access Schemes.

Selection rank adjustments don’t change your ATAR. They change your selection rank for a particular course at a particular institution. Therefore, your selection rank can be different for each course you list in your course preferences. Read more about selection rank adjustments.

Some course descriptions indicate a ‘Guaranteed ATAR’. This means that if you receive an ATAR equal to or above this number, you’re guaranteed an offer to that course. 

THE ATAR PROFILE

You’ll find these terms in an ATAR profile, which also shows the lowest, median (or middle) and highest ATARs and selection ranks received by students admitted to that course in the previous year. An ATAR profile is one of the standard features in each course description in the UAC Guide 2018-19 and on our course search

Here's an example of an ATAR profile table:

An example of an ATAR profile table showing course codes and lowest, middle and highest ATARs and selection ranks

The most useful numbers in the ATAR profile are the lowest selection rank and median ATAR – these will give you an idea of what you’ll need to be offered a place in a course.

For further information about specific courses, contact the relevant institution, or ask UAC for help with your application.