What is getting your ATAR really like?


I know that I’m feeling better than most people.

I’m home and relaxing after cricket training. Feet up and scrolling through the best of Netflix and Stan to whet my insatiable appetite for distraction before I sleep. Not that the ATAR release at 7 am tomorrow bothers me heaps – I know that I should be right to surpass an ATAR of 80 in order to get into my preferred course of Journalism at RMIT University. But it is still lurking in the back of my brain, like a nagging unknown that I beg to be answered with a four digit number. If I have this tiny niggle in the deep pits of my brain, I know that the majority of other Victorian Year 12 students must be experiencing much worse right now. There must be large amounts of doubt, fear and apprehension over what they may see when their bleary eyes log into their VCAA account and view their results.

For the rest of the night, I binge watch episodes of The Office (US version, of course) and attempt to wind down by switching off my inner thoughts that ponder what may happen tomorrow. By the time I get into bed I hold no fear, only a hint of nervous excitement as I’m keen to discover how I went and get some closure from my schooling life. Despite this relaxed outlook, I initially struggle to sleep as my mind is free to wonder about the number I will see on my iPhone tomorrow morning. However, this isn’t close to the large scale insomnia that many people (including me) had the night before the dreaded English exam, as I still fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time.


Despite my alarm being set for 6.58 am, I am awake and alert by 6.15. Lucky me, here comes 45 slow minutes. Just like how they used to pass at school – how fitting! I pass the time by lying in bed and indulging in the television show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as well as various cricket and football videos on YouTube. Suddenly it’s 6.57 am and my phone buzzes with an email – I wonder what it could be at this time of the morning?

Expecting a random JB Hi Fi advertisement, it’s actually an email from VCAA with my study scores for each subject. They’ve come early, and my body instantly ignites into a fervent panic as I rush to cast my eyes over the email. I get halfway through my subjects and realise that it includes no ATAR, so I flick to the ‘Results and ATAR’ app to get the full rundown of my results. I tap onto the ATAR screen and my jaw widens, agape with disbelief. 98.55. In all my thoughts about what I might get as an ATAR, this was in my wildest fantasy.

Up I get, texting my results to family and friends as energy rushes through my body. Despite knowing that I am tired, my body is in overdrive and it takes an hour of relaxation for me to feel sleepy again. When I finally catch up on some much-needed rest, my phone is full of texts and missed calls. The most damning are from my mother, as she has been hounding me about replying due to my school principal calling her and asking to speak to me. Whoops! I finally call back and hear that I received the third highest score in my year level, before seeing Facebook group chats and reading all of the awesome scores that my friends got. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone, so it makes it better to know that my friends have all done well and there is not much disappointment clouding our mornings. What a day!


The excitement is finally wearing off. Friday was a whirlwind, with a party at night topping it off as plenty of people celebrated and happily congratulated scores. Saturday cricket allowed my older teammates to ask about my results, but by 2PM the novelty had worn off and all I thought about was playing and watching cricket. By night, everyone was done with ATARs and only worried about university courses, with the heavy burden of scores being over and done with. A weight had been removed from the shoulders of many young Victorians.

It had been proven right. Everyone said that once you receive your scores, it instantly doesn’t matter. For me, it will matter for a day or two, as my score is beyond my expectations and very difficult to fathom. I’m sure that even when I see my name in the paper, I still won’t fully believe it. But once university preferences are finalised, it’s over, and my score becomes an easy way to flaunt success and describe how I went in school. The only problem with this – are school results even worth the fuss? Over the past few days I’ve discovered that they're not, as a healthy balance and work experience holds just as much, if not more weight, than ATAR scores.

By Sean Mortell

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