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Reduced To a Number: The ATAR

As of 7:00am on the morning of December 12, 2016, the number of 77.95 is the last result I will have ever received from my high school education and I have very mixed feelings.

The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) is the score for Victorians that ranks them with the scores of their exams in order to be accepted into university thus it is a huge day of the graduating class of 2016, of which I am. Although this score is an efficient way to rank students and allow them to receive a university offer it is obvious that a number based on five or six exams is not an accurate representation of the potential of each individual student.

As a student who both criticises the system yet has achieved a score well above what I needed and only slightly off my dream score I both loathe and love the system.

Being obvious that each and every student is different, with each one striving for different dreams and aspirations it begs the question: is reducing a student to a number an accurate representation of their potential? the answer is no. A student’s potential cannot be recognised in a number, a budding doctor may not be that one person who achieved 99.95 but maybe that one person who under pressure only achieved 70.00, what a person is capable of doing cannot be recognised by a number but the number representing that person’s ranking is definitely a good insight.

As I write this I realise my words are biased and contradictory as this morning I surpassed my aim of an ATAR of 60.00 by achieving a 77.95 thus I am reaping the privilege of the opportunity of being accepted into the Universities I applied for.

With the pressure placed on the graduating class each and every year to achieve a satisfactory ATAR, it is a wonder that there is anyone who can achieve a perfect score of 99.95 and it always provokes the question: Is that person better than the rest of the state? does this implication that those who achieve an exceptional score demean those who got anything but perfect? in that case, it would additionally imply that the number given to those who didn’t get a perfect score may

belittle and solidify the feeling of being “lesser”.

Thus arguing that the ATAR system does more harm than good to the students of Victoria.

The ATAR system certainly is efficient in ranking each and every student and getting hundreds and thousands of exam papers marked by the December 12 every year but

there is a need for change in the system if the potential of each student must be revealed

. Reduced to a numbered ranking simply isn’t working, even if it did work for me, it has left down thousands in the state today who didn’t achieve their dream ATAR and whose confidence is affected by a simple number.

You’re so much more than a number.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2016 and good luck for the what the future holds.

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Isabelle Sheppard
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Currently a young writer from Australia. Experiences that surround me is what inspires me to write pieces regarding current issues in our local and global media.

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