For the majority of students applying to medical school a good ATAR is a fundamental requirement. The ATAR required for most medical courses may seem daunting at first to prospective applicants. There is no substitute for hard work and determination but here are some smart tips to help make it easier.
In order to achieve a high ATAR score, you need to pick your subjects wisely. A lot of time and effort should go into planning this. There are some differences in the difficulty of subjects between the state certificates (VCE, HSC, TCE, SACE, QCE, WACE, NTCE) and the International Baccalaureate.
Furthermore, there are some subjects that may scale down, including the lower levels of Maths and English. Picking the right subjects is a fine balance between the grades that you can achieve in that subject, and how the subject scales. By and large, a majority of applicants with the higher ATARs will do subjects that scale higher.
State Certificates: The most important factor to consider with state certificates is the use of scaling. Scaling affects your overall ATAR by determining the weighting of subjects. Chemistry, Physics, Advanced Maths and Advanced English tend to scale well. This means that an A grade in these subjects is likely to contribute more to your ATAR than an A grade in a subject that does not scale as well in comparison.
There are some subjects that may scale down, such as the lower levels of Maths and English. Picking the right subjects is a fine balance between the grades you can achieve in that subject and how the subject scales.
International Baccalaureate: Subjects in the IB are weighted equally and do not scale. However, three subjects must be taken at a higher level and three at the standard level. The difficulty level varies depending on the subject. Maths at a higher level tends to be significantly tougher than the standard level. However, the gap in difficulty is not as noticeable as in other subjects, such as English. It may be wise to consider this when picking your subjects, in order to have a more balanced workload and ensure you achieve better results.
Having a study group is beneficial for high school and beyond. Studying with your friends provides motivation to study as you are held accountable if you fall behind. It is also a lot easier to find answers to any questions you may have. You can also develop a deeper understanding of content. It might come as a surprise to find how much more motivated you are when studying in a group; it definitely makes revision fun.
3. Know your syllabus
Knowing your syllabus is key to achieving a good ATAR. Regardless of whether you are doing the IB or a state certificate, there will be course outlines available. These are invaluable resources. If material is not in the course outline, you can be sure it won’t show up in assessments or exams. Aim to make notes based on the syllabus points and regularly double-check the syllabus to determine areas you may need to do further work on.
Having a timetable is an inevitable part of assessment and exam preparation. It allows you to plan your time in a way that works best for you.Planning study sessions in a calendar enables you to know in advance if you are likely to be overwhelmed at any stage and gives you the general timeline you have to work with. Having a weekly timetable also helps you get into a rhythm and develop good working habits.
5. Find a good work-life balance
A good work life balance is important to maintain consistency and prevent burnout. Many high school and university students face the serious threat of burnout. Participating in activities such as sport and socialising regularly can contribute to positive well being. By preventing burnout you’ll be able to work longer and with a more positive mindset to match. Just don’t forget the importance of a good night’s sleep and nutrition either!
Whilst there is no simple formula to maximising your ATAR, you can employ these tips and tricks to help you along the way. Try to keep in mind that education is not defined by a single score, although the above tips should assist you in achieving your personal best.