According to some universities, I live in a rural area. While I might be near cow pastures and the forest, I wouldn’t consider where I live rural. That being said, some institutions disagree, and were willing to give me bonus points for it. I wasn’t complaining though!

The point is that bonus points aren’t all that well understood, and relying on them is a very risky idea. This is why you need to get your head around them now!

What are Bonus Points?

Bonus points are one of the most elusive parts of understanding HSC Results and ATARs. The most important thing you need to understand is that bonus points do not add to your overall ATAR points. 

Bonus points are extra points that tertiary institutions, not just universities, give to a student’s ATAR to boost their selection ranking in a applying to a university course. Most institutions offer subject bonus points, and particular institutions give regional bonus points.

It’s important to note that each institution gives its own bonus points according to their own criteria.

For example, say your ATAR was 72, this is how your ATAR would change with each university’s distribution of Bonus Points according to the achievement of a particular band in a particular subject:

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 11.25.21 PM

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that all four universities have a cut-off of 75 for their Bachelor of Arts courses and you applied to all four, achieving an ATAR of 72.00 and Band 5.

Because of the differences of bonus points offered by each uni, you would fall below the cut-off for the course at Macquarie, University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney, but would be fine at University of Western Sydney (because 72.00 + 3 bonus points = selection rank of 75.00).

How can Bonus Points help me get me into my course?

As said, bonus points do not add to your overall ATAR.

If you are awarded bonus points, it alters your selection rank for a course. Basically:

Your ATAR + Bonus Points = Your Selection Rank

What does this look like in practice?

For example, a course has 6 applicants contesting for three places. The cut-off for Course A is 87.00. The six applicants have the following selection ranks:

1. 89.00 (ATAR of 89.00)
2. 88.00 (ATAR of 87.00 plus 1 bonus point)
3. 87.00 (ATAR of 83.00 plus 4 bonus points)
——————–Course Cut Off———————–
4. 86.00 (ATAR of 86.00)
5. 85.00 (ATAR of 83.00 plus 2 bonus points)
6. 84.00 (ATAR of 84.00)

In this case, UAC offers (or offers of acceptance from the university) will be only made to Applicants 1, 2 and 3, because they meet or exceed the selection rank cut-off with their ATAR and bonus points combined.

Now you know how ATARs and bonus points work, let’s find out how UAC Offers work! Read on to Part 5 here.

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Elizabeth Goh isn’t a fan of writing about herself in third person, even if she loves writing. Elizabeth decided she didn’t get enough English, History or Legal Studies at Abbotsleigh School for her own HSC in 2010 so she came back to help others survive it with Art of Smart Education. She’s since done a mish-mash of things with her life which includes studying a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations) with a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University, working for NSW Parliament, and blogging about her travelling experiences.