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Tertiary entrance: ATARs and OPs

ATARs and the QCE system

From 2020, Queensland’s standard pathway to tertiary entry, for Year 12 school leavers, will be the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). ATARs are calculated by Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC).

The ATAR is used nationally and indicates a student’s position relative to other ATAR-eligible students. To be eligible for an ATAR a student must:

  • complete five General subjects (Unit 3 and 4), or
  • complete four General subjects (Unit 3 and 4), plus one Applied subject (Unit 3 and 4), or
  • complete four General subjects (Unit 3 and 4), plus one completed VET qualification at AQF Certificate III level or above.

To be eligible for an ATAR, students must satisfactorily complete (i.e., achieve a minimum grade of C or higher) an English subject. The result in English will only be included in the ATAR calculation if it is one of the student’s best five scaled results.

OPs and the previous QCE system

Before 2020, the Overall Position (OP) was the primary pathway for tertiary entrance for Year 12 school leavers. The QCAA calculated OPs.

The information in this section relates to tertiary entrance: ATARs and OPs for the previous QCE system that ended in 2019. It is different from applying for equivalency for non-Queensland school qualifications.

There are a number of differences between the ATAR and the OP:

  • The ATAR is a finer grained rank order of students than the OP.
  • The ATAR is a number between 0.00 (lowest) and 99.95 (highest) with increments of 0.05. ATARs below 30 are reported as 30.00 or less.
  • The OP consists of bands from 1 (highest) to 25 (lowest).

The ATAR allows tertiary admissions centres to compare students from across Australia when they apply for tertiary places. Each state and territory is responsible for calculating ATARs for school leavers in their own state. The OP showed a student’s position in a statewide rank compared to all other OP-eligible students in Queensland.

OPs do not expire. If you were awarded an OP you can use it for university entrance. However, if you complete additional studies after Year 12 (e.g., VET qualifications, or higher education study), the way your merit for tertiary entrance is determined will depend on the institution and/or course you apply to.

Universities with very competitive degree programs may request a student’s ATAR if Field Positions (FPs) do not provide enough differentiation between high-achieving applicants. This is to ensure there is an equitable allocation of tertiary places.

ATARs may also be used by institutions outside of Queensland to rank students. If you are applying for an Australian interstate course, scholarship or residential college, you may be asked to provide your ATAR.

If you are applying to study overseas, it is up to that overseas country to determine how your results are recognised for tertiary entrance in that country. There are likely to be different procedures for students who have completed schooling in that country and students who have completed schooling in Australia.

Yes. Queensland students who were eligible for an OP are also eligible for an ATAR.

If you want to know your ATAR, you need to apply for an ATAR statement (PDF, 273.3 KB). The QCAA can calculate an ATAR, when required, for students who received OPs in or before 2019.

No, if you did not receive an OP you are not able to receive an ATAR. You should speak with the tertiary admissions centre or university about what they might consider if you apply for tertiary entrance and do not have an OP or ATAR.

The QCAA can calculate ATARs for students who completed Year 12 and were awarded an OP in or before 2019.

The QCAA calculates ATARs free of charge for students who have an OP.

ATAR calculation applications are generally processed within seven working days.

The QCAA will email or post the ATAR statement to the address you nominate on the application form.

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