To receive an offer of a place in a university course a school leaver must:

  • qualify for the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)
  • fulfil any prerequisite subject requirements for the course
  • obtain a competitive Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) (previously known as Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER)).

To obtain a university aggregate and a Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) you must:


  • comply with the rules regarding Precluded Combinations
  • comply with the rules regarding Counting Restrictions
  • complete at least 80 credits of study at Stage 2 of which 60 credits of study must be 20 credit Tertiary Admissions Subjects (TAS) from a maximum of three attempts which need not be in consecutive years

Normally 10 credit subjects do not count towards this requirement but some 10 credit subjects in the same area, when studied in pairs, can substitute for a 20 credit subject. These are called Valid Pairs.

For further information visit the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC).

There are two things to remember when assessing your chances of being accepted and deciding your preferences when applying:


Your ATAR is derived from your University Aggregate but they are not the same thing. The Aggregate describes your actual results, while the ATAR ranks your results compared to everyone else. Most importantly, your ATAR nearly always will be higher than your Aggregate because it is a score out of 99.95, while the Aggregate is a score out of 80.

In other words, use your ATAR not your Aggregate when looking at cut-off scores for different courses .

Cut-off scores

Cut-off scores can be misleading, for two reasons:

  • A cut-off score tells you the lowest ATAR required to get into a particular course in a given year, but nothing else. A low cut-off score does not mean that most people in the course scored low marks - most of them may have scored high marks. Cut-off scores depend on how many places are available in a course. Usually a low cut-off means many places are offered, while a high cut-off score means there are very few. For this reason, a high cut-off score does not always mean that a course is popular and/or attracts only people with the highest marks.
  • The ATAR and cut-off scores will vary from year to year, depending on how well all students have done in their studies and which courses they are interested in. Only use last year's figures as a guide.

By far the best advice is to ask a lot of questions - about the rules, the courses you are interested in, and your options.

More information

For more information, phone the Admissions/Prospective Students Office at any time of the year on (08) 8201 3074 or 1300 657 671 (local call cost) or email