4 Facts to Help You Manage Your ATAR Anxiety

Teens know just how tough high school can be. In fact, students are subject to tremendous stress, with about 65 per cent of students feeling stressed at any given point. Unfortunately, stress levels for Year 12 students in Australia can be much stronger for students to handle.

Considered as a vital factor in university admissions, Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (or the Overall Position, if you’re from Queensland) is every Year 12 student’s dread. Because the ATAR encompasses all students that take up Year 12, students feel like they can do very little to affect their own ranking. As such, students are always on the look-out for the best strategies to get a better ATAR and are always pressured to study as hard as they can, hoping it can get them better ATAR results.

While it’s okay to get a little bit concerned about your future at this point, you should also enjoy your remaining years in high school as much as you can. If you are incessantly overthinking about your ATAR, and how it would affect the rest of your career, then you should start taking better control of your mindset in order to manage your ATAR anxiety.

Fact 1: Your ATAR score is only relevant for a few years

Because ATAR’s primary purpose is to get you into college, your ATAR score will only be relevant during your admissions. If you’ve been stressing out over your ATAR for the past couple of months, or even years leading up to Year 12, then you should realise that this ranking won’t affect your entire career.

ATAR is merely a tool to help schools screen students better and to guide students into choosing a suitable career for them. However, students usually have an unclear understanding of ATAR that prevents them from seeing the bigger picture, eventually giving ATAR a life of its own. As Chief Scientist Dr Allan Finkel puts it:

“We…know the ATAR is a tool. Students treat the ATAR as the goal.”

You must know that while scoring well in ATAR is good for your uni admissions, your future employers will most likely deem your ATAR result as unimportant. On top of that, your ATAR isn’t the only thing unis look at during admissions.  Because skills will be far more vital at work, you should work towards the development of your skills as early as now.

Fact 2: Only a handful of students will get a high ATAR

Because ATAR is a ranking system, getting a high rank means beating the best-performing students. Unlike exams where multiple students can get high scores, ATAR is determined through a complicated computation that basically acquires the average of all students and ranks them accordingly. This means that only a handful will get to be in the top.

Know that getting an average ATAR ranking is okay. Instead of fretting too much over your ATAR, you must focus your attention on attaining true learning by understanding the lessons at school and making your own insights from them. After all, success won’t be based on your rank in ATAR, but will depend on your resiliency as a person.

Fact 3: Not all courses require a high ATAR

If you will do your research well, you’ll discover that only a handful of courses require a really high ATAR score. In fact, even students with ATAR scores of 30-40 are being admitted to a wide range of studies such as business, teaching, and engineering.

There are far more courses that require an ATAR score of 90 and less. This means your career options remain plenty even if you get an average ATAR. If your intended career path doesn’t really require a high ATAR score, worrying about your ATAR score too much can just create unnecessary stress that could affect your health – both physically and mentally.

Fact 4: Overseas education can render ATAR irrelevant

Should you opt to continue your college education overseas, then your ATAR may completely become irrelevant. Because ATAR is used exclusively in Australia, your rank in ATAR will only be useful if you continue your uni education here in Australia.

For instance, New Zealand universities look at a students’ NCEA performance assessed against a number of standards. On the other hand, unis in the United States look at a students’ Grade Point Average (GPA), which represents the average of a students’ courses through time.

Beat your negative ATAR mindset

If you think that the ATAR is the single most important factor to get you into uni, then you’re wrong. There are a number of pathways available for students that aim to get a uni education that is non-ATAR or non-Year 12. On the other hand, should you feel that you’re still not ready to enter Year 12 and have your ATAR, then you can always talk to your counsellor and see what options are available for you.

By simply re-thinking what you believe ATAR to be, you’ll be surprised at how much weight you can take off your shoulders. This should provide you with a clear mindset to help you focus on your studies and succeed as a student.