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Queensland ATAR

From 2020, the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) will replace the Overall Position (OP) as the standard pathway to tertiary study for Queensland Year 12s.

The ATAR is the primary mechanism used nationally for tertiary admissions and indicates a student’s position relative to other students.

The ATAR will be introduced for students commencing Year 11 in 2019, who will graduate from the end of 2020 and seek entry to tertiary courses commencing from 2021.

QTAC will calculate ATARs for Queensland school leavers.

View our ATAR PowerPoint presentation for parents (PPTX 146.3MB).

Read information about ATARs and OP bands (PDF 62.8KB).

Read a white paper about inter-subject scaling

Tertiary Entrance in 2021 - Quick reference for students and parents (PDF 1.5MB)



What is the ATAR?

The ATAR is the standard measure of overall school achievement used in all other Australian states and territories. It is a rank indicating a student’s position overall relative to other students. 

The ATAR is expressed on a 2000-point scale from 99.95 (highest) down to 0, in increments of 0.05. 

ATARs below 30 will be reported as ‘30.00 or less’.

ATAR eligibility

To be eligible for an ATAR, a student must have:

  • satisfactorily completed an English subject
  • completed five General subjects, or four General subjects plus one Applied subject or VET course at AQF Certificate III or above
  • accumulated their subject results within a five-year period.

While students must satisfactorily complete an English subject to be eligible for an ATAR, the result in English will only be included in the ATAR calculation if it is one of the student’s best five subjects.

If you are aiming for an ATAR for tertiary study entry, Queensland universities have decided that the following rules will apply:

  1. Only General English subjects or Applied English subjects can be included in the ATAR, but not both. For example, it is not possible to include both English (a General subject) and Essential English (an Applied subject) in a student’s ATAR.
  2. Only General Mathematics subjects or Applied Mathematics subjects can be included in the ATAR but not both. For example, it is not possible to include both Mathematical Methods (a General subject) and Essential Mathematics (an Applied subject) in a student’s ATAR.
  3. Only one result for the same subject taken as a General subject and via Senior External Examination can be included in the ATAR. For example, it is not possible to include both the General subject Chinese and the Senior External Examination subject Chinese in a student’s ATAR. Similarly, it is not possible to include both the General subject Biology and the Senior External Examination subject Biology in a student’s ATAR.

Your school may allow you to study several English, Maths and language subjects and that’s fine, but make sure you discuss the rules with your Year Coordinator or Careers Adviser so you understand what will count towards your ATAR, and what won’t.

ATAR calculation

The ATAR will be calculated by combining a student’s best five subject scaled scores.  Scaled scores will be derived from a student’s subject results as reported to QTAC by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA), using a process of inter-subject scaling.

Inter-subject scaling

Inter-subject scaling is where raw scores for a given subject are adjusted so the results for that subject can be compared fairly with the results of any other subject. 

If a student of a given ability studies an easier Maths subject they might get a 90/100. But if the same student studied a harder Maths subject they might only get a 70/100. However, if scaling works, they should end up with the same scaled score for inclusion in their ATAR calculation.

If subjects were not scaled, students could maximise their ATAR by studying what they believe are the easiest possible subjects to get the highest possible best five subject results to comprise their ATAR.

Inter-subject scaling will not enhance or diminish a student’s performance in their subjects.  The student’s ranking relative to other students in their subjects does not change. Scaling simply allows for performances to be compared across all subjects, and then only for the purposes of including these in the calculation of a student’s ATAR.

Students should choose subjects:

  • they enjoy
  • think they will achieve well in
  • that are subject prerequisites for tertiary courses that they will be seeking entry to.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) and the ATAR

Each VET qualification level (Certificate III or higher) will have a single scaled score that can be included in a student’s ATAR.

For example, a Certificate III in Hospitality and a Certificate III in Laboratory Skills will each have the same scaled score; this will be regardless of the duration or area of study of the Certificate III.

It is expected that the scaled score for a completed VET Diploma will be higher than that for a completed VET Certificate IV, which in turn will be higher than the scaled score for a completed VET Certificate III.

Adjustment factors

Adjustment factors will be added after ATARs are calculated, according to individual tertiary institution rules, when an applicant’s QTAC application is assessed.

International students

International students studying the Queensland secondary system who have fulfilled the requirements for an ATAR will receive an ATAR based on their results.

Transition students

For students with results across the current and new QCE systems, translation tables will be used to convert subject results from the current QCE system to allow these to be considered in the ATAR.

Accessing the ATAR

ATARs are expected to be released in mid to late December each year. Students will be able to access their ATARs online and print a PDF version of their Queensland ATAR Result Notice. The result notice will be verifiable from a secure online facility.

Changes to subjects and subject prerequisites

Changes to Senior subjects will accompany the introduction of the ATAR in Queensland. These changes include the redevelopment of Authority subjects (renamed General subjects), and revision of Authority-registered subjects (renamed Applied subjects). Some new subjects, including Psychology and Engineering, will also be introduced.

You can find subject prerequisites for individual institution courses that will be applicable for 2021 commencement on the My Path page.



What happens to the Queensland Core Skills (QCS) Test?

The QCS Test will be discontinued. The final QCS Test will be held in 2019.

Will students still receive a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE)?

Yes. The Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) will remain as Queensland’s Senior school qualification. Eligible students will still receive a QCE at the end of Year 12, as well as a Senior Statement showing all studies and the results achieved. For more information, visit the QCAA website.

Can you tell me how specific subjects will scale?

As scaling is based on actual subject achievement data, it will not be possible to know how subjects scale until December 2020 when the first students qualify for ATARs in the new system.  The first year of the ATAR will provide baseline information about the scaling of subjects for inclusion in the ATAR calculation. 

Trend information on the scaling of subjects will be available in the years immediately following the first year. 

Can I use my ATAR to apply in other states?

Yes. The Queensland ATAR will be recognised in all other Australian states and territories.

Need more information?

For more details about changes to subjects and curriculum, visit the QCAA and Queensland Government websites. 

For specific questions about the ATAR, email



Page last updated: 28 Jul 2019