The Footnotes


How does your ‘year ranking’ affect your ATAR?

The go-to-guide for your ATAR questions

Look, I’m not going to lie, your Trial exam marks aren’t something that you can completely shrug off.

Truth be told… they represent a pretty decent chunk of your internal mark. But I know there will be hundreds of you asking this question:

“I screwed my Trials, can I still get XX ATAR?”

Yes. You can.

Your Trial mark influences your internal rank and mark. In the scheme of the BIG picture: 

The actual HSC tests are worth 50% of your ATAR, so depending on the weighting of your trials … they will probably contribute to about  15 – 20% of your final mark. 

Internal rankings 101

Internal ranks work something like this: basically, they’re the position you’re coming in a particular subject based on your internal assessments. 

To come first, the average mark of all your assessments is better than everyone else’s. Some assessments are worth more than others, so this is taken into consideration when calculating your mark. Eg. trials are marked fairly at a high standard.

Rules of ranking:

  • If multiple people get the same mark, your rank will be affected.
  • When there’s a tie in the Olympics two people get a gold medal, nobody gets a silver and the next person gets a bronze.
  • You might be the second best, but you can’t come second if you’re the third person.
  • The same goes for the HSC, if you have 150 people in your year it’d be pretty confusing if the person who came last had a rank of 90. But it happens… a lot.
  • Unless your rank gets you a prize on speech day, it probably doesn’t mean much to you.
  • At the end of the day, ranks don’t matter much to anyone.
  • What we all think about in the end is the ATAR –  Saying ‘I came 4th in English at my school’ doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘I got 99.7’.

So why do we even need ranks?

  • Ok, let’s pretend your internal rank is 4th.
  • You sit the HSC and get a mark of 67.
  • If 67 was actually the 4th highest mark then that’d be both your internal and external marks. But if someone else got the 4th highest mark, which we’ll say was 96, because your rank was 4th you’ll end up with an internal mark of 96 even though your external mark is 67.
  • And because your final mark is the average of your internal and external marks that 2nd place rank is going to come in handy and give your average a nice boost.
  • So if you rank second, you pretty much take the 2nd highest mark, even if that’s not your mark
  • So that’s how ranks work: they determine, based on your school’s result in the external exam, what your internal mark will be.


A less than ideal performance in your Trials is more than compensated for by a super strong finish in the HSC Exam. Why? Because if you perform BETTER than your internal rank, you’ll be fine.

If you screwed your Trials, that’s okay! It just means you have to work a tiny bit harder in October.

Now, don’t get me wrong, doing well in the Trials and in your internal assessments is important and great if you can do it. But the HSC Exam is the big one. Think of your Trials as a security blanket.

Not sure what to do next year? You are in the right place… check out our course finder

How does your ‘year ranking’ affect your ATAR?
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top