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University entry requirements

Last updated: 16 July 2012

Selection to university courses is based on both eligibility and rank. Eligibility allows you to be considered for selection; rank determines whether you are competitive enough to be selected.



To be eligible for selection into a university course/program you must:


>        qualify for the SACE/NTCET

>        obtain a Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)

>        meet any prerequisite subject requirements for the course/program





Your competitiveness in relation to other applicants is based on your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) which is a rank given to students on a range from 0 to 99.95. Your ATAR is calculated from your university aggregate.


To obtain a university aggregate and a Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) you must:


>        comply with the rules regarding Precluded Combinations

>        comply with the rules regarding Counting Restrictions

>        complete at least 80 credits of study at Stage 2 of which 60 credits of study must be 20 credit Tertiary Admissions Subjects (TAS) from a maximum of three attempts which need not be in consecutive years


Normally 10 credit subjects do not count towards this requirement but some 10 credit subjects in the same area, when studied in pairs, can substitute for a 20 credit subject. These are called Valid Pairs.  



Calculating the university aggregate


The university aggregate is calculated from the best scaled scores from three 20 credit TAS plus the best outcome from the flexible option, which can be either:


>        the score of a fourth 20 credit TAS or Recognised Studies


or any two of the following:


>        half the score of a fourth 20 credit TAS or Recognised Studies


>        the score of a 10 credit TAS or Recognised Studies


>        the score of another 10 credit TAS or Recognised Studies


subject to precluded combination and counting restriction rules. The subjects used in the calculation can only come from a maximum of three attempts which need not be in consecutive years.



Converting the university aggregate to a Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)


The university aggregate is converted to a ATAR. The ATAR is an indicator of how well a particular student has performed relative to other students. It is calculated as follows:


>        the group of students who have qualified for a university aggregate in 2011 is called the 2011 cohort.


>        For each university aggregate score (in the range 0-80.0) obtained by the students in this cohort, the percentage of students who obtained that score or better is calculated. This is known as calculating the percentile distribution.


>        Each score in the range 0-80.0 now has a corresponding percentile rank in the range 0-100. For example, if a score of 70.4 or better out of 80.0 has been obtained by 10% of the cohort, the score of 70.4 will correspond to a percentile rank of 90.0 (100 – 10).


>        The 2011 cohort may differ from that of other years in that it may represent a smaller or larger percentage of the population of the same age group. The percentage from the given year is known as the participation rate. It is calculated using population statistics obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and measuring these against the size of the cohort. If an allowance were not made for this, the final ATAR would not be comparable from one year to the next.


>        The percentile rank is then adjusted to take account of the participation rate and the result is the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).


When the calculations are completed, a student’s relative position on the ATAR range is unchanged from the student’s relative position on the university aggregate range.


It is important to remember that a rank is not a score and a ATAR cannot be calculated arithmetically from a university aggregate.



Reporting the university aggregate and ATAR


The university aggregate is reported to students on a score range of 0-80.0 with intervals of 0.1.


The ATAR is reported to students on a percentile scale, ie on a range 0-99.95 with intervals of 0.05.


The university aggregate and ATAR are reported only to students who qualify for the SACE or NTCET.


Bonus schemes


All universities operate either equity or subject bonus schemes which may affect an applicant's ATAR. For details visit each university's website.





Some university courses/programs require students to have studied one or more specific Stage 2 subjects to a minimum standard in order to be eligible for selection into the course/program. These subjects are known as prerequisites.


In order to fulfil a prerequisite subject requirement, you must obtain a minimum grade of C- or better. The grade is used (rather than the scaled score) because the course/program administrators are interested in how well you performed in the subject itself as measured against the learning requirements of the Subject Outline.


Since prerequisites are used to determine eligibility, not rank, they do not have to contribute to the university aggregate.




Assumed knowledge


Many university courses/programs recommend that commencing students have background knowledge in one or more specified Stage 1 or Stage 2 subjects or have an identified skill which will enhance the student’s understanding of the course/program content. This is known as assumed knowledge.


Assumed knowledge is not compulsory and is not used in the selection process for entry to university courses/programs. Statements of assumed knowledge are intended purely to assist students in understanding course/program content and to allow them to make subject choices which may be of benefit to them in their future tertiary studies.