My ATAR is too low: What now?


We now have strong evidence to demonstrate that the ATAR as an indicator, does not provide a full picture of an applicant’s ability to succeed.

The text message has come through and you know this is the message you have been waiting for all year. You felt great once the exams were finished but now you’re not so sure. Unfortunately, it isn’t what you want to see, it’s not the score you were wanted, worse yet, the ATAR score is low. Flooded with disappointment, the unknown, maybe even embarrassment your mind goes completely blank. What do I do now? Sound familiar?

What to do if your ATAR is too low

First off, panicking will get you nowhere – there are plenty of options available to you. This piece is to convince you that your ATAR/OP says nothing about you or your future grades.

No matter where in Australia you live, start with the Tertiary Admissions Centers. Each centre will have links on its website that may help guide students in the right direction – it’s worth taking a look at these sites for information.

Remember all these centres are busy around this period so if you need to speak to someone, be patient.

The Good University Guide, lists courses and their ATAR around Australia, consider using this as a national guide to compare your options.

Consider ‘Options Day’

You won’t be alone; many students experience disappointment when the ATARs are released.

Many universities are open on the day of results to allow students to visit campuses and speak to a Career Adviser to discuss options their options now that they have their score.

Take this advantage of visiting a university campus and find out everything you can about your options.

Consider smaller universities

Courses run at smaller institutions often have lower ATARs. Private universities are able to set their own ATARs regardless of government policy.

Some students may dismiss smaller universities on account of these not having the same rigorous standards as larger universities. However, this is not necessarily the case. Smaller universities may offer a more personable experience overall and allow you more opportunities.

Once you begin on your career path within a university institution, your low ATAR score becomes less important.

Consider a diploma a pathway into a bachelor degree

Some universities offer diploma courses that act as a pathway into a bachelor’s degree. For example, Torrens University Australia offer diplomas in marketing, events management, business, graphic design, interior design and decoration, beauty and spa practice, nutrition, hospitality, culinary management and tourism that provide a direct entry into bachelor degrees is successfully completed.

Diplomas can give you a feel for university life without committing to a whole course. With lower ATAR/OP requirements or even a Year 12 certificate students are eligible to enroll in many university courses.

Entry requirements outside of ATAR

Many universities now have uncapped places for certain courses. This means the university places less emphasis on your ATAR and are considering other factors too, such as creative portfolios for design degrees, student interviews for entry into management or hospitality degrees.

Scoring a low ATAR won’t put you out of the running.

Stay calm and just change the way you think about the entry process. Keep up your research and make the effort to visit campuses and talk to people who know what you are going through.

Crisis averted!

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