My ATAR Is Low, What Now?

That’s a wrap for HSC 2019!

You’ve worked hard to get to this point after a marathon of endless classes, study sessions and trials all culminating in your final exams.  You should be patting yourself on the back and breathing a huge sigh of relief for getting through such a stressful and intense time in your life.

For many this limbo period between exams and results are fraught with worry and overthought about their next step should their ATAR be lower than expected.  

So, to put your mind at ease, here are a few sage truths to give you some perspective.   


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There is more to you than your ATAR!

You are a unique individual with plenty more to offer than just a part of a whole. It is important to remember that your ATAR is not a percentage but a rank, given in increments of 0.05 between 0.0 and 99.95, which means that a score of 75 puts you in the top 25 per cent of your state.

Your ATAR score alone isn’t the be-all and end-all, as well as a reflection of not only one’s academic ability, but also the circumstances that one is exposed to throughout their high school career.

Beyond the HSC it is important to pick a course and more broadly, a university or college, based on its merits and suitability for you. Not the other way around.



Macleay is the perfect option for a student who wants a non-traditional, personalised education with some of the best minds in the business.


Many students feel pressure when preparing for the HSC to choose subjects they think will score well, or even opting for easier subjects in order to test well in the aim to lift their overall mark. Too often this leads to students having sat exams for subjects they are not altogether interested in, or subjects that don’t transfer easily into the courses they later wish to study.

This applies beyond the HSC and The Good Universities Guide recommends that you shouldn’t choose a course simply because of its prestige if you can’t see yourself studying and working in the field.


It’s unlikely that your future employers will ever ask you for your ATAR!

That’s right.  Although an ATAR may be the ticket to gain direct entry into the program and college or Uni of your choosing, from that point on it pretty much becomes irrelevant in the ‘real world’.

Most employers won’t care if you have a low ATAR, and are unlikely to even ask, because what they’re going to be looking for is a candidate with the right credentials, attitude and industry experience. Not an ATAR score.  


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Professional services firms like big finance or law firms are more likely to consider your ATAR and your academic results, whereas other companies are more likely to base their decision to hire you on your previous work experience and job-related skills.

For some roles your academic results carry no weight at all, employers are more interested in your extracurriculars and your personal interests; how socially minded are you? Are you part of a community, if so, how do you contribute to it? What are you passionate about? 



First year Business students brainstorming ideas for their marketing strategy project.


There are many paths to get you to the top of the mountain!

If your ATAR is low and you miss out on direct entry into your chosen course, don’t panic.  At Macleay all of our Diploma Courses can be completed within 12 months with no ATAR required. We ultimately determine your suitability on a few different factors. 

Diplomas are a fantastic credential and despite requiring no academic mark as such they produce job-ready graduates equipped with industry-level skills and knowledge.

One benefit of a Macleay fast-tracked degree is that you are out in the workforce a year earlier than many of your peers who may have opted for three or four-year undergraduate degrees. You will be earning money sooner, getting your feet wet in an industry you love. 


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Many Macleay students have come to us from larger institutions, “I was enrolled at a big university in an academic media degree that offered little real-life education, practical courses or content” our Advertising and Media grad, Isabella, said.

“I called it quits on uni and started my Diploma at Macleay…the course content, the brilliant industry-working lecturers, the analysis of our potential, and the sincere interest in assisting with our careers…I’d never experienced anything like it.” 

There is no one means to success. Education by way of a degree is different for every student and you should keep in mind what is the best path for you.



Macleay's Sydney campus is nestled in the creative hub of Surry Hills and is a two minute walk from Central Station (trains and buses). 


There is nothing wrong with a gap year! 

Gap years tend to get a bad rap but they are a great option if you are looking at taking some time away from studies for a much-deserved break or a chance to help you look into your options and figure out exactly what you want to do. After all, choosing to study further is a big time and financial commitment and not a decision that should be rushed. 

There are many options available to you. You can head straight into a job, earning money and gaining first-hand work experience. You can travel overseas, explore new cultures and societies, learning more about the world as well as yourself.

Some gap-year individuals even opt for voluntary programs some of which offer valid resume credentials upon completion. It is important not to be too preoccupied by public opinion and base your next step off what other people deem suitable, make sure your decision is based off of your needs and wants and what will help you make the best decisions for your future. 

RELATED CONTENT: Concerned About Your ATAR?

To find out more about Pathways at Macleay, call us on 1300 939 888, contact us via this form or shoot through an email to

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  • Our course material and teaching method incorporates the latest industry practices and real-world experience.
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  • Our small classes feature personalised teaching that nurtures your unique strengths.

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