Everyone will tell you how to preference your UAC Top 5 differently. Some like to take risks. Others like to work out bonus points and be strategic. And some play it safe. I am an advocate for all three methods. This is what I would do to make the most of your choices this year.
Generally, we tell students to choose their dream course at the top, preference #1. If I am keen on Law at Sydney University, but I know that it is extremely competitive, I may place it as my number 1 choice. It is a long shot. But I am hopeful. We know that how it all plays out, is reliant on the strength of the competition, and every year is different. So currently I could keep it as my number 1 choice. When I get my ATAR mid-December, and I do a lot better than I expect, then I can keep it there. Like I said this is my dream course, my ambitious option. Even if I know I am unlikely to get a place, I can still keep it here, and hope for the best.
The next step is to list the courses in preferences #2, #3 and #4 in order of what you would most prefer to study in that order. We call them preferences for this very reason, in order of what we would most prefer. Generally speaking, students tends to follow the ATAR order of highest to lowest, but you don’t have to follow this policy. Especially as different Universities give different adjustment points for different subjects. Work out the order of courses you would most like and then consider the adjustment factors and/or whether this changes how you would order courses. Adjustment factors can be found on the website of each University. This is a great guide from Art of Smart on how to best use these points.
We want to make sure that all students secure a course place. I always recommend students to choose a course, for their last preference #5, that they are confident that they will get into. It is a safe bet, If you are on track for a 70 ATAR, to choose a 60 ATAR course. The course may not be ideal, but you would consider it if all your options do not work out. It’s the safe-bet choice. Some students choose foundation or diploma courses here. Or courses that they know they will only study for one year. Then they can transfer after first year. Do not underestimate how many students use this as a viable strategy, for gaining entry into their preferred course. This is not – ‘messing up’– this is being smart about the options on the table for you. And about 20-30% of all first years are doing exactly this.
Finally remember that there are a few rounds to go through. The main round, now called December Round 2, is based on ATARs. Students can gain a place in December, and then move preferences around. They can then take out their offered-course, and hope to get another offer in January or February. Students can only receive one offer per round. I have known students in the past who received an offer for their dream course – preference number 1 – in the February round whilst it was rejected in December. You never know how it could all play out.
Best wishes to you all.
UAC Atar Calculator
Deakin University – Tips for Choosing Preferences
Sydney Uni – Why all your preferences matter