ATAR For Medicine: The Beginners Guide

Welcome to the “ATAR For Medicine: Beginners Guide”.

In this guide you’ll discover everything you need to know about the ATAR scores you’ll need to get accepted into Medicine (straight out of high-school), and what you can do to excel in the ATAR.

This guide is perfect for anyone in Years 10, 11 or 12 at high-school (or with a child currently in these year levels) that wants to gain admission into Medicine at the end of Year 12.

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

Chapter 1 – What Is The ATAR?

In this section, you’ll discover all the basics about how the ATAR score is calculated, how scaling works, and what to expect from ATAR subjects at school.

Chapter 2 – ATAR For Medicine?

Now you know all the basics about how the ATAR score works, we’ll reveal the subjects you must study to be accepted into Medicine in Australia, and the types of ATAR scores you will need to earn a place into the Medical Schools you are applying for.

Chapter 3 – How To Maximise Your ATAR For Medicine?

What can you do to achieve a 99+ ATAR? In this section we break down the difference between students who get 90-95 ATARs and 99+ ATARs (hint: it’s not hard work, or IQ).

Chapter 1 – What Is The ATAR?

The ATAR score accounts for a further ~33% of your child’s chances of getting into Medicine.

What is the ATAR?

The ATAR is a ranking of Year 12 results that measures your overall academic achievement in your school subjects compared with all other final year students in Australia. 

The ATAR is not a score out of 100 – it is a rank. This means that your score between 0 and 99.95 tells you where you rank in your state.

E.g. an ATAR score of 70 means that you are in the top 30% of your state. 

E.g. An ATAR score of 99 means that you are in the top 1% of your state.. 

The ATAR allows Medical Schools to compare the overall achievements of your school subjects against every other student who is finishing Year 12.

How is ATAR scored?

The ATAR is calculated by combining your scores in all your school subjects together. 

This means that if you study for example: Maths, Chemistry, English, Biology and Physics – these scores are combined together into one single ATAR score between 0 and 99.95 (in intervals of 0.05). 

The highest rank is 99.95, the next highest 99.90, and so on. The lowest automatically reported rank is 30.00, with ranks below 30.00 being reported as ‘less than 30’.

You will want to be aiming for an ATAR score of over 98 to be competitive.


Chapter 2 – ATAR For Medicine?

What ATAR score do you need to get into Medicine?

To be competitive in the medical admissions process, you want to be aiming for an ATAR over 98. An ATAR score of 98 means you’re in the top 2% of students in your state.

This score can be as low as 95 if you come from a rural background or have another form of special consideration that universities consider.

On each university’s website, they publish data on the “lowest-accepted-score” from each year. You can go to their website to find more specific information on the precise score you can aim for on each university. You can view the entry requirements to a few common universities in the below videos.

What ATAR subjects do you need for Medicine?

In the following video our medical admissions expert Charlie breaks down the subjects your child must study to get accepted into Medicine (along with some recommended and popular choices).

For a quick summary on the video above, there is 3 different types of subjects.

Type 1: Mandatory Subjects

There are 2 keys subjects your child must study if they want to gain admission into Medicine.

  1. English – studying an English subject is mandatory for Medicine.
  2. Chemistry – studying for Chemistry is mandatory for Medicine.

Type 2: Recommended Subjects

There are 2 subjects most universities recommend your child studies if they want to gain admission into Medicine. These subjects make it easier for students in first year Medicine.

  1. Maths – studying a Maths subject is recommended (but not mandatory) for Medicine.
  2. Biology – studying for Biology is recommended (but not mandatory) for Medicine.

Type 3: Enjoy/Excel Subjects

For your child’s final 2 subject choices, we recommend you choose subjects that your child enjoys and excels in. These are subjects that your child has attained high marks in, and enjoys studying for.

Universities want high scores. For the final 2 subject choices they do not care what subjects your child chooses, only how well they perform in each of these subjects.

How does scaling impact ATAR subject selection for Medicine?

Many people select subjects based on how much they scale up or down (e.g. advanced Maths subjects often scale up 5-10 marks, whereas Arts/Drama subjects often scale down 5-10 marks).

Subject scales up or down based on the calibre of students studying for a subject, not based on the subjects perceived level of difficulty.

This is because in Year 12, subject scores are rankings (e.g. a 99 ATAR means your child is in the top 1% of the state) not a percentage of how many questions were answered right/wrong.

This means that without scaling it would be easier to attain high marks in subjects where a lower calibre of students have selected it. Scaling was introduced to solve this problem and level the playing field. There is therefore no advantage in selecting subjects based on whether they scale up, or scale down.

Chapter 3 – How To Maximise Your ATAR For Medicine?

Over the last 6 years we’ve seen thousands of students pass through Years 11 and 12.

Some achieve the 99+ ATARs they are striving for, and yet others fall short with 90-95 ATARs.

What’s the difference?

Well after having spoken to 100s of students over the last few years, we’ve noticed that most students think that believe that the key to getting a 99+ ATAR comes down to 1 thing – hard work.

The problem is that everyone who gets an ATAR, even above 90, is already working very hard.

All the students who end up getting ATARs above 90 get home from school and study for 2-3 hours at a minimum, they stay on track throughout the year and rarely get lazy or unmotivated.

This means that at best, you could squeeze in an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour everyday over everyone else – but is this going to be the difference between a 90 and 99 ATAR? No.

I’m sure you’ve heard stories (or it may even have happened to you earlier in high-school) where you study super hard for a test, only to find out someone else in your class achieved higher grades than you despite studying for far less time than you.

It seems like they had a superhuman like ability to keep getting the best marks while somehow finding extra time to chill with their friends, play basketball or practice the trumpet and study far less than you!  

All while you’re sitting at home and scratching your head wondering how on earth they do it.

This is what is going to happen to the typical Year 12 students while they’re studying at home in the next few weeks too.

They might commit to using their time at home wisely to try and get a leg up on everyone else by trying to outwork everyone else by studying for 3, 4, 5 hours a night.

But if they use their time in the wrong way they’re only going to be pushing themselves further and further away from a 99+ ATAR…

Leaving them complaining about the coronavirus and how it’s so unfair and how it was the reason they ended up with such a disappointing ATAR at the end of the year. 

Don’t let this be you!

So if it’s not how hard you work that makes the difference between whether you use your time at home to set yourself up for a 99+ ATAR or if it’s just a waste of time and you’d have been better of relaxing and playing games and watching netflix for the next 2-3 weeks… what is?

Well, the truth is that it’s not your work ethic that’s in question, for most students, it’s never been their work ethic that holds them back.

It is their approach to studying for their ATAR subjects at home that can be greatly improved.

That’s why some students will come back to school on track for a 99+ ATAR while studying less (or the same) as everyone else.  

It’s because they studied in a way that was fundamentally different to you. 

How can you study for your ATAR subjects in the right way?

In the following video we break down how you can study for ATAR subjects in the right way (and give you the productivity secrets to a 99+ ATAR).

We will be uploading more productivity and study secrets videos from 99+ ATAR students to our YouTube channel, so make sure you subscribe by clicking here >>


Med Prep School is the school for future doctors, guiding students to excel in their ATAR, UCAT and Interviews to earn a place into Medicine.

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