As Australians excitedly await the Christmas holiday period, there is one group who have one final hurdle before celebrations can start.
Year 12 students across the country sat their most important exams of their schooling, and now have around a week until they are awarded their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).
The ranking information will be available in most states from the end of next week and the single figure is the main criteria universities use to select students.
But many teenagers and parents are still in the dark about what the ATAR means and how to access it online. Here is your guide to the Year 12 exam results.
When and where are the ATAR results published?
HSC students in NSW will have access to their results from Friday, December 14 at 9am.
With their student number and password, the ranking can be accessed on the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) website or via the app.
Those in the ACT can access their results through the same website, but will have to wait until December 17 at 9am.
Victorian students are the first to receive their results and can access them from 7am on Friday, December 14 through the website or VTAC app. Students need to register their details first and can opt to receive results by text message.
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South Australian and Northern Territory Year 12 leavers will have to wait until Tuesday December 19 at 8.30am on the SACE Board’s Students Online portal.
Students in Queensland will have access to their ATAR on December 15 and those in Western Australia will have their results on Monday December 17 via the government website.
What does the ranking mean?
The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is a number between 0 and 99.95 that represents a student’s position in relation to all the students in their age group.
For example, an ATAR of 80.00 means the student is 20 per cent from the top of their age group – not from the Year 12 group.
According to the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), the ATAR “is a rank, not a mark” and the average is 70.00.
Universities use the ranking to select students for their courses usually in combination with other criteria, such as a statement, interview, portfolio or test.
What happens after getting the result?
In the weeks after ATAR results come out, rounds of university offers start coming through based on the rankings.
In NSW, the first undergraduate offers are released on the UAC website at 7.30am on December 20. After the first round, students are then able to change preferences for the next round by midnight 6 January. The second round of offers is on January 11 and applications close on February 8.
In Victoria, VTAC release the first offers on January 16 and the next round is on February 4.
Students only receive one offer and most course places are allocated in the first round.
In subsequent offer rounds, students will be considered for course preferences higher than any offers received in each round.