Have an ATAR goal, but unsure of how to get there? Learn how to, straight from a 99.95 ATAR achiever.
For many students, the ATAR is a mysterious, intangible and yet very important number. Former Matrix scholarship holder and 99.95 ATAR achiever, Chloe Beydoun, shares how she used the Matrix ATAR calculator to translate her ATAR goal into practical and measurable goals she could achieve at school.
The ATAR is a daunting concept and a source of much stress given that it is a numerical figure which feels rather arbitrary. It is easy to assess after each task at school whether or not you are happy with a mark as it stands alone, but it’s difficult to tell whether the scores you are achieving throughout the year are setting you up well for your goal ATAR.
So, I needed to find a way to translate my ATAR goal into subject marks and rankings that I should be achieving at school to keep on track. By using the Matrix ATAR calculator to do this, I was able to:
Here’s how I did it!
To achieve my ATAR goal, I followed five steps. Here’s what you should do to follow them:
The first step to achieving your ATAR goal is figuring out what that value looks like for you. One of the most common metrics for a goal ATAR is the university course you are striving for.
Ultimately, the ATAR is your means of entrance into a university degree, and nothing much more beyond that.
It is important to have researched around any particular degrees you might be interested in, and then aim for the highest ATAR of those potential courses so that you have maximum choice after high school. What does this mean, say you’re trying to gain entry into Actuarial Studies at either UNSW, ANU, or Macquarie University. According to the 2021-22 UAC Guide, the cutoffs are:
According to the universities’ websites, the highest mark for guaranteed entry is 97.50 for the UNSW. With that in mind, you would set your goal ATAR as 97.50.
Once you have decided on a goal ATAR – one which you feel motivated to strive for because it enables you to study what you would like to in the future – it is then important to think about how that combined score will likely distribute across all of your subjects. This is when we turn to the Matrix ATAR calculator. Before anything else, you will need to input the subjects you are studying. Note that you need to select at least 10 units of study in order for the Matrix ATAR calculator to work.
After inputting at least 10 units of study, you will be able to select one of two functions:
First, use the ‘ATAR to Marks’ function and input your ATAR goal. The Matrix ATAR Calculator will then show you a combination of marks for all your courses that will allow you to achieve that ATAR goal. This will form the skeleton of your goal setting.
Here’s what it would look like for someone who:
The mark breakdown according to the ATAR calculator assumes that you will perform equally well in each of your subjects.
However, you can appreciate that naturally you perform better in some of your subjects over others.
Select the ‘Marks to ATAR’ function (previously, you were using the ‘ATAR to Marks’ function). This will allow you to manually change the marks of each of your subjects to reflect your strengths and weaknesses, while still meeting your ATAR goal.
For example, the ‘ATAR to Marks’ function has shown you that achieving a 92 in both Physics and English will allow you to reach your ATAR goal. Perhaps, Physics comes more naturally to you than English and so by using the ‘Marks to ATAR’ function, you decrease your English score to an 89 and increase your Physics score to a 95.
Once you make this adjustment, take note of whether the ATAR remains fixed in the process.
In this way, you will be able to effectively test the upper and lower limits of the scores required of you in each subject.
Thus, you can optimise your ATAR according to your true performance in each subject relative to one another.
See how this student is still able to achieve their ATAR goal of 98 by compensating for their lower marks in English with higher marks in Physics:
To make the most of the goal setting exercise, it is important to begin by considering what the relative mark breakdown for your goal ATAR looks like. Once you have set your ATAR and subjects, you will be able to move through the list and seriously consider each of the average marks required of you in each subject.
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Once you have a mark breakdown that reflects your performance and potential, you can now organise the marks you require according to Bands. For example, you may need a 95 in Physics for your ATAR breakdown and so you are aiming for a Band 6 in Physics.
The next step is to consult your teachers at school and gain the historical data of your school performance. If – in the last 5 years – only 10 people have achieved a Band 6 in Physics, then you can infer that you will probably need to rank in the Top 10 of Physics to score that 95.
You can put this information in a table, like this:
This also gives you a much more concrete means of tracking your performance throughout the year. At the end of each assessment, you no longer want to really consider the raw score, but rather focus on how you ranked in terms of performance in that task in comparison to your peers. Your goal should be to maintain or reach that Top 10 in Physics ideally before Trial exams come around.
As well as enabling you to gauge how you should be performing throughout the year, the mark breakdown from the ATAR calculator means that you can gain a relative idea about how each of your subjects ‘perform’ within the mysterious scaling of the HSC.
This does not mean you should rely on scaling to decide which subjects you carry through until the end of Year 12, but rather it will allow you to appreciate the net effect of your effort input.
For example, you will find that a 2-4 mark difference in a Maths Ext 2 score will have an almost negligible effect on the overall ATAR in comparison to a 2-4 score increase in English Advanced. This means that when delegating your study time, in addition to considering your strengths and weaknesses, you want to think about how spending that extra hour or two on English rather than Maths Ext 2, could potentially have a net greater impact on your ATAR.
As such, the mark breakdown from the ATAR calculator will help you determine what an efficient study regime looks like for you, as well as providing a more concrete means of reflecting upon your performance throughout the year and maintaining motivation.
All in all, it is important to realise that the ATAR is a rather arbitrary figure, but the Matrix ATAR calculator helps make it a little more comprehensible. Be sure to continuously engage in self-reflection and assess the study regimes you are following to ensure you manage your time effectively.
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