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ATAR: How NSW students, schools performed and keeping your options open

Yesterday was both nerve-wracking and exciting for Year 12 students across NSW who received their Admissions and Tertiary Entrance Rank (ATAR).

Unlike the ‘good old days’ when students had to wait for the postie to deliver the all-important news, this year the online ATAR service momentarily crashed while thousands of students tried to access their scores.

One of the 46 students to top NSW was Jocelin Shing-Yan Hon, who reached the highest possible ATAR score of 99.95. She is among 16 other girls who achieved this remarkable grade.

The 18-year-old told the Sydney Morning Herald she is "excited and relieved” about her results.

"My parents are very happy and proud.”

Jocelin studied Year 12 at James Ruse Agricultural High School, a co-educational school in north-west Sydney, and is the first female student to top the state in maths 2 extension – the hardest maths course – since 2012.

The students

More than 55,000 NSW students received an ATAR this year, with an impressive 16.8 per cent receiving an ATAR rank of 90 or above. Just over a third (33.4 per cent) received an ATAR over 80, while 49.6 per cent received at least a rank of 70.

This year's median ATAR was 69.75, marginally higher than last year's (69.65), the Herald reported, while the aggregate was 71.1 for girls and 68.05 for boys.

Another top performer in NSW this year was Jesse Caminer, a Cranbrook resident who topped three subjects at Monday's first in course ceremony, feeling "over the moon" to have received an ATAR of 99.95.

"I am feeling high on life today," he said. "It’s a very overwhelming release of 12 months of anxiety and stress and happiness and sadness.”

Another James Ruse Agricultural High alumnus who received the top ATAR, Kim Zheng, described the whole day as “surreal".

The schools

For the 24th year in a row, James Ruse Agricultural College took out the top school position in NSW with 714 band 6 scores and 1165 ATAR entries. The rest of the top 10 were:

  1. Conservatorium High School
  2. North Sydney Boys High School
  3. Sydney Grammar
  4. Hornsby Girls High School
  5. Sydney Girls High School
  6. North Sydney Girls High School
  7. Reddan House
  8. Baulkham Hills High School
  9. Sydney Boys High School.

Selective schools dominated the top 10 this year, with nine out of the top 10 falling into that category.

Other options available if you didn’t get the score you wanted

We all know that life is full of ups and downs, and for whatever reasons some students may have been less than impressed – even sad and disappointed – with the ATAR score they received yesterday. The University Admissions Centre (UAC) has complied a list of recommendations so that your score needn’t get in the way of your dream. Here are the top ones:

  • Offers can still be made to students for their preferred course if they ranked under the course cut-off score. These are termed adjustment factors. Talk to UAC or your university of choice to discuss this option
  • Some universities offer foundation courses or pathways that can lead you into your degree. Yes, they will prolong your studies slightly, but if you are that passionate about a particular course of study, it’s a great option
  • More than 11,000 students have already received an early offer. If you’ve received an early offer but are considering changing your mind, you need to remove the successful preference from the top of your list, or it will ‘block’ the lower preferences
  • Some courses require prerequisites, not just an impressive ATAR score. Ensure you meet those prerequisites before applying for the course
  • Have your final list of preferences finalised by December 19, 2019.
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