How To Set Goals To Enter Your University Course Of Choice

Posted on February 23, 2017 by Matrix Education

How many times have you been told to set goals? As a student I must have heard it hundred times. However no one really explained the exact process for setting your goals.

Defining your academic goal involves realising the following:

  1. What is the university course you want to get into?
  2. What is the ATAR cutoff for this course?
  3. What are the required Performance Bands for my subjects?


Step 1: Which university course are you interested in studying?

Most Year 11 and 12 students have an idea of what they would like to study at university. However, if you don’t have any idea it may be helpful to speak to people in different professions to gain an insight.
Here are links to some university course pages:


Step 2: What is the minimum ATAR required for the university course?

If you know which university course you are interested in, then you need to find out the subject and ATAR requirements.

For example, if you would like to study Bachelor of Commerce at University of Sydney in 2017, your minimum ATAR had to be 95 to be accepted. So your ATAR goal is 95!

For the full list of university courses and cut-off ATAR, please visit the UAC website


Step 3: What is the assumed knowledge for the course?

Most university courses have assumed knowledge or recommended subjects for their courses.

Why is this important? Because if you don’t study the right subjects at school, you may not be eligible to study the course even though your ATAR is above cut-off ATAR.

For example, Mathematics is an assumed knowledge for Bachelor of Commerce at University of Sydney. From 2019, this university course will require a course prerequisite of Mathematics (Band 4 or higher). 


Step 4: Convert your ATAR in terms of Performance Bands

From your ATAR goal, determine the required HSC Mark, Percentile, Scaled Mark and Performance Band for each subject. I have used the Matrix ATAR Calculator to create the table shown below.

ATAR Goal: 95

Subjects HSC Mark Percentile Scaled Mark Performance Band
English ADV 90/100 84 81/100 6
Business Studies 91/100 94 81/100 6
Chemistry 87/100 80 81/100 5
Mathematics 90/100 82 81/100 6
Physics 85/100 94 81/100 5


Step 5: Summarise your Goals

The table below summarises your goals.

Goal Detail

University Course

Bachelor of Commerce at University of Sydney

ATAR Cutoff


Subject Performance Band

English Advanced: 6
Business Studies: 6
Chemistry: 5
Mathematics: 6
Physics: 5


Step 6: Consult with your school teacher regarding the required school rankings for each subject performance band.

What is the school ranking required to achieve performance band 6 in Mathematics? Top 10 at your school? What is my ranking?


Step 7: Track your progress

You can use a table like this to track your progress quarterly.

Subjects Current School Ranking Required School Ranking Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4
English ADV
Business Studies


Want to achieve an ATAR of 99.95? 



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