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Rethinking ATAR in 2020

Male high school student

Who could have imagined how the 2020 school year would unfold? Years of preparation for university were completely derailed by a global pandemic.

If your child is planning on attending university, 2020 and the impact of COVID-19 on their final year of high school learning have probably left them feeling anxious about their prospects for an uninterrupted education. If they didn’t achieve the scores they expected in their exams, embarrassment or even shame might be added to their mix of emotions.

If you’re a parent or caregiver of a child graduating high school, your Year 12 student may be feeling like a failure due to circumstances beyond their control.  The good news is you can assure them the coronavirus will not derail their plans.

First of all, if your child is feeling anxious, they’re not alone in their concerns. The whole world has had to deal with the fallout of an unexpected pandemic. In Western Australia, a lot of thought has been given to how best to support children who are finishing high school and wanting to make the transition to university. Sitting WACE exams can be stressful enough without the added pressure of an interrupted school year.

What is WACE?

Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) is given to senior high school students as evidence of their achievements. The WACE is recognised by universities, TAFE, and other training providers and shows a student has met several standards of learning in their secondary schooling. These include:

  • Breadth and depth standard
  • Achievement standard
  • Literacy and numeracy standard

There are several ways for students to achieve their WACE. Most commonly students progress through one of two pathways, one for general curriculum studies and one for students taking ATAR courses. Students taking ATAR subjects have ATAR exams – at the end of Year 11 and again in Year 12 – which count towards your child’s ATAR score.  

ATAR exams 2020: COVID-19 impact 

The School Curriculum and Standards Authority, also known as SCSA, has agreed that no student should be disadvantaged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means Year 12s who plan on attending university, along with their parents and caregivers, can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

In 2020, Murdoch university admissions are working differently. High school students graduating in 2020 can take advantage of new pathways to university admissions. Year 12s will be able to use the results of their Year 11 ATAR subject results when applying for admission to undergraduate studies.

Year 12 Uni Entry Safety Net

Last year, Murdoch University established a direct entry pathway for the 2020 high school graduating class. Students who took ATAR subjects can apply with their Year 11 results and receive an unconditional offer. Students who use their Year 11 test scores will not be disadvantaged. The Year 12 Uni Entry Safety Net is a way for Year 12s to receive entry to Murdoch University for 2021 and not have to stress about how they perform on their ATAR exams.

Applications for the Year 12 Uni Entry Safety Net have now closed. If your teen doesn't currently meet our admission requirements but would like to start studying in 2021, explore our enabling pathways

In the past, both parents and students might have been very anxious about the impending ATAR score. In 2020, COVID-19 has changed everything. Murdoch has made provisions for a situation no one could control and, in turn, urges parents to alleviate pressure on themselves and their child. It has been a severely disrupted year and the university recognises it’s been impossible for students to perform at their best. By thinking differently about university admission, Murdoch is giving Year 12s a chance to put COVID-19 behind them, regardless of how much time they spent studying from home

With more pathways than ever before, there are plenty of options for your teen looking to study at university. 

Posted on:

8 Jan 2021

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