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UWA staff member talking to mother and daughter at Open Day

What if my teenager doesn’t get the ATAR they wanted?

13/12/2023 |

The ATAR scores are in. And, it looks like your child didn’t quite get the results they were hoping for. First things first – just breathe.

Not getting the mark they wanted can be particularly disappointing for your child. Even more so if all their friends are happily celebrating their success.

As a parent or guardian, now’s the time to not only provide some much-needed reassurance, but equally some practical advice – and to let them know about the many different pathways they can take toward their chosen course or career.

Your child can still be a very successful student. They just need to approach things in a slightly different way.

It isn’t the end of the world and UWA offers a range of options and pathways to choose from. We want to do everything we can to help your teen achieve their goals.

They could be eligible through other study options:

Changing preferences

UWA has a range of courses, some with higher ATAR requirements and some with lower ATAR requirements. If your teen’s ATAR was lower than the course they were initially interested in, they could always switch to a course with a lower ATAR that still leads to their dream career.

For example, the Bachelor of Commerce has a minimum ATAR of 80 but the Bachelor of Business accepts applicants with an ATAR of 75 and above. The Bachelor of Business will give your child a chance to learn practical and relevant business skills across a range of areas and they can still choose a second major from the Bachelor of Commerce.

Units they complete in one degree can even be transferred to another degree at a later date. So, they can get started and make the most of their uni experience while figuring out which course is right for them. If they’re still set on the original course they were hoping for, their grades at uni can help them get there.

Apply through experience-based entry

Experience-based entry recognises that many pathways can prepare students for university studies. Your child can apply for our Bachelor of Arts, Biomedical Science, Business, Commerce, Environmental Design, Science or Social Work using a combination of academic and life experiences. These may include academic or vocational qualifications, extra-curricular activities, community engagement, volunteering, life and sporting achievements, trade awards, work experience, education references and an updated resume outlining employment history and duties.

Take the STAT to meet requirements

If your child didn’t get the scores they need for entry or didn't sit ATAR at all, they can consider sitting the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) and pass to meet our requirements. The STAT is a national test designed to assess aptitude for undertaking an undergraduate degree. The STAT is comprised of two sections; STAT Multiple Choice and Written English.

AccessUWA or four units of undergraduate level studies

AccessUWA provides them with the opportunity to enrol in units without being formally admitted to a degree. Upon successful completion of four standard units, they can apply for their chosen degree based on their results in those units (rather than the results in their ATAR) and the units completed will count towards their degree.

Complete a Foundation Program

Foundation Programs are one-year courses to prepare prospective students for university study. Successful completion may provide eligibility to one of UWA’s comprehensive degrees.


UWA staff member talking to parents and child at Open Day

They could be eligible through other admission criteria:

Broadway ATAR adjustments

Broadway UWA is designed to ensure access to our courses is available to the broadest range of students. We want to make sure everyone has the best chance of getting into uni and succeeding at UWA! If your child studied at a Broadway-identified school in WA, they’ll automatically have their ATAR adjusted. Find out if they’re eligible and what their ATAR adjustment could be.

First in Family

If the parents or guardians of a student have not completed a university-level degree, they may be eligible for a place at UWA through the First in Family program. They are still eligible even if they have siblings currently studying or planning to study at university.

Overcome challenging circumstances with Fairway

Fairway is a program providing academic, financial and personal support for students completing Year 12 under challenging circumstances. It’s designed to help prepare students for university before they get started. If your child is completing the Fairway program and got an ATAR of 70 or above, they could be eligible for one of UWA’s undergraduate degrees.

Indigenous pathways

Our School of Indigenous Studies runs a Provisional Entry Scheme offered to Indigenous students through a competitive application process.

We also provide a 12-month Aboriginal Orientation Course pathway which prepares Year 12 students for entry to most UWA degrees.

Did your child skip ATAR?

UWA Smart Start – Albany campus

If your child didn’t achieve the ATAR they were hoping for, didn’t complete Year 12 ATAR, or would just like to prepare for university studies, UWA Smart Start may be the key. UWA Smart Start is a course that enables members of the Great Southern community to prepare for degree-level studies at the UWA Albany campus. The course is run collaboratively with our School of Indigenous Studies, based in Perth.

Take some time off before starting at university

If your teen is keen to take a break before starting university study, they can apply for mature-age entry after they turn 20 years old. Explore our entry pathways for non-school leavers.

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