Top students share their top tips for acing ATAR

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14 February 2024

Reward and recognition Public school life

You’re almost there, it’s the final year of high school, Year 12. You’ve been preparing for this since you started secondary school. It has been five years in the making.

For many, with Year 12 comes more pressure, as they work towards achieving their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). More tests, an increased workload, different teachers, new experiences; it can feel like a lot, and be overwhelming.

We asked 2023 Perth Modern graduates who received an ATAR of 99.95 for their advice. But first…

What is an ATAR?

An ATAR is a number between 0 and 99.95 and represents your position among all the other Year 12s in Western Australia. An ATAR is one way to gain direct entry into university. For more information about gaining entry to university visit Pathways to university.

How is an ATAR calculated?
  • The four highest scores achieved in your WACE exams are added together to become your Tertiary Entrance Aggregate (TEA).
  • Your TEA is then ranked against all other Year 12s in WA. This is your ATAR.
Chau – 2023 Perth Modern graduate

Work on your mindset

Chau – 2023 Perth Modern graduate

It might sound like an obvious bit of advice, but try not to compare yourself to others.

For Chau, it was her good mindset that carried her through Year 12, and helped her achieve an ATAR of 99.95.  

“I don’t know how many people actually make time to work on their mindset,” she said.

“That’s why you need to develop that flexibility and resilience, and that mindset of treating everything like a learning opportunity.”

Focus on the process, not the outcome  

Setting that goal of wanting a specific ATAR or specific score in a subject is not actually going to get you there, and it's just going to make you stressed.

“You need to focus on what you are weakest at, how you can learn, and improve and learn from your mistakes,” she said.

“The worst thing is doing bad in one test and then in the next, because you keep making those same mistakes, and not learning from them.”

Plan your study to avoid cramming

Try not to tunnel vision on whatever tests you have coming up.

“Avoid cramming, although it might get you a good score, that stress will start to build up over time and you can’t maintain those sprints, because it will burn you out,” she said.

“I think it’s important to make time for studying all of your subjects each day, even if it’s a 15-minute session on what was covered in class that day.”

Lillie – 2023 Perth Modern graduate

Lillie – 2023 Perth Modern graduate

Stay connected

“I knew going into Year 12 it was going to be a difficult year,” she said.

“Maintaining my friendships was really important, and I am grateful to have such a supportive and nurturing cohort of friends.

“I tried to stay connected, and never isolate myself, and even throughout exam periods we stayed in contact.

“I knew going into the year what was important to me, my netball, doing some sport or exercise, and having a social life.

“Having a life outside of study is what kept my mental state healthy.” 

Hanlin – 2023 Perth Modern graduate

Hanlin – 2023 Perth Modern graduate


When planning your study schedule, you need to balance your workload with time for relaxation, hobbies and life.

“At the start of Year 12 I was studying quite a lot. But then it started to take a toll and I was feeling burnt out,” Hanlin said.

“I realised that this might not be working, and that I can’t really be doing these questions to the best of my ability.

“Just making time for your hobbies, friends, things that give you joy, and making time to go out for walk, clear your mind and take in a breath of fresh air.”

Make a plan

Organise a timetable of what you are going to study each day.  

“This will help to keep track of your progress, and also evaluate and achieve your goals,” he said.



Keep in mind different techniques work for different people. These students have shared what helped them achieve a high ATAR, and what works for them may not necessarily work for you.

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