How your ATAR is calculated

The ATAR system and how your final scores are calculated can be very confusing for the uninformed student. However, I’m here today to make that easy on you and explain how your ATAR is calculated! I’ve included a video here but you can scroll past and read the quick explanation if you like!

There are a few different components that make up your ATAR: SAC and exam scores, raw Study Scores, scaled Study Scores, your aggregate score and finally your ATAR itself. These things can all sound a bit alien if you haven’t heard of them before, so let’s break it down.

SAC and Exam Scores

During the year, your school sets SACs (School Assessed Coursework) for you to do. These are essentially assessments that test your knowledge of the coursework so far and obviously at the end of the year, you have your final exams. Your marks from SACs and exams are used to create a raw Study Score for each subject at the end of the year.

This Study Score depends on a range of factors such as how your class performs and how you perform relative to the rest of the state. This part is not too important to fully understand – the main thing is to try to top your class in every single SAC and exam and you won’t even need to know how your ATAR is calculated!

Raw Study Score

Once you’ve completed a subject, you receive a ‘raw’ Study Score for that subject. This score is given on a scale of 0 to 50, with 30 being the average. However, the Study Score is not a score out of 50. It is technically your ranking relative to how everyone else in the state scored in that subject.

Since 30 is the average, this means that a student who scores a 30 SS has scored higher than approximately 50% of students in Victoria. A student who scores a 40 SS has scored higher than about 91% of students in Victoria. This is what is known as the ‘bell curve’. As the study score gets higher, the amount of students that you’ve beaten gets exponentially larger. You get a raw Study Score for each Year 12 subject you complete.



Scaled Study Score

Now that you’ve got your raw Study Score, it needs to be scaled. ‘Scaling’ means that your raw score is adjusted to reflect the fact that it is more difficult to obtain a high Study Score in some subjects than others. This is not related to the ‘difficulty’ of a subject. Rather, it is related to the natural competitiveness that is attracted to certain subjects.

Usually, Maths, Science and LOTE subjects scale up; Arts subjects like History and Art scale down; English and Business Management-type subjects usually stay about the same. Once the Study Scores are scaled, these are your final subject scores. These are then added up in a certain way to give your ‘Aggregate’.



The Study Scores mentioned below refer to Scaled Study Scores. Your Aggregate is calculated by adding:

• Your best Study Score in any one of the English studies

• The Study Scores of your next best three subjects

• 10% of the Study Score of your fifth best subject (if applicable)

• 10% of the Study Score of your sixth best subject (if applicable)


SubjectRaw SSScaled SSContribution to Aggregate
Maths Methods394444
Italian31373.7 (10% of scaled SS)
Business Management3228.42.84 (10% of scaled SS)
Aggregate Total162.94

Your ATAR Score

The ATAR Score is a ranking against all other students in Victoria. Your Aggregate score is placed in a ranked list along with everyone else in the state, and your ATAR is created based on the percentage of students that you scored higher than. If you get an ATAR of 68.35, this means you’ve got a higher Aggregate than 68.35% of students in Victoria.


So, how do I use this to my advantage?

At the end of the day, it’s great to know how your ATAR is calculated and where your study scores come from, but your ATAR can only be controlled by one thing – how hard you work for it. If you try your best and attempt to top your class in each SAC and exam, you’ll do well. Create a study timetable to keep track of everything.

A useful tool to use is the ATAR Calculator found here – http://vce.atarcalc.com/

Simply put in your subjects and you’ll be able to estimate your ATAR like this:

Let us know if you’ve found this useful in the comments below or if you have any questions! We’d be more than happy to answer them for you.