Most students know what kind of ATAR they want, but do you know exactly what marks you need to get that ATAR? I sure didn’t! But this is where the ATAR calculator comes in.

Rather than not knowing what marks you need to achieve your ATAR and drowning yourself in study notes hoping for the best, there is a less stressful way to go about achieving your goal ATAR.

You’ve probably heard about them – the reverse ATAR calculator. These magic online apps that will supposedly predict your HSC success.

While I’m sad to say they probably can’t ensure that perfect ATAR, a reverse calculator is actually really useful for figuring out where you sit in regards to your ATAR goals and how much you need to work to get where you want.

By using a reverse calculator in one of two ways, you can easily boost your study motivation and start working towards where you want to be!

Option 1: ATAR as base
Option 2: Marks as base
Things to Remember

Option 1: ATAR as base

The most common reverse ATAR method is to plug in the ATAR you’re hoping to achieve and the subjects you’re taking and see what marks the calculator recommends.

Generally it will give you a specific mark for each subject, but usually these are only estimates, so don’t fret too much about needing to get 85.7 on your Ancient History exam!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Select all the subjects/units you’re taking from the drop-down menus.
  2. Type in your goal ATAR, and bam! Your goal marks and percentiles are there for each subject.

This option essentially lets you work backwards from the ATAR you want, figuring out what marks you’ll need to be averaging and which subjects to focus on.

This tends to be useful for students looking for higher ATARs, or who want specific goals to work towards for each subject.

Option 2: Marks as base

Another, less popular option, is to figure out what your ATAR would be based on your current results.

This involves selecting all your courses, then plugging in the results from your last exam (this is especially useful after half-yearlies and trials).

From there the calculator gives you an estimated ATAR based on your marks, making it easy for you to see how much you need to improve to achieve your goal ATAR.

Here’s a rundown:

  1. Select all your units first.
  2. As you put in your marks the ATAR will calculate itself until you get a final estimate.

The good thing about this option is that it lets you see an estimate of where you’re already sitting in regards to your goal ATAR and what the gap is between where you are and where you want to be.

This is also a great motivator, as it lets you set realistic goals of how much you may need to improve!

Things to Remember

  • Accuracy – While ATAR calculators tend to be pretty accurate, they aren’t always right and can’t predict each year’s specific scaling. Always treat the marks and ATARs as benchmarks!
  • Bonus points – If you’re headed to uni, the chances are you’ll be eligible for bonus points somewhere, be it for sporting skills or subject choice. You can find out more about bonus points here, or check university websites directly for their bonus point offers.
  • Be Realistic – The point of using ATAR calculators is to set goals, but make sure they’re reasonable ones! If the calculator says you need a mark of 92% in a subject you’re currently averaging 65% in, aim for a midway point around 80% and work on improving other subject marks too.
  • Stay Balanced – Just because the calculator says your 87% average in Maths is fine doesn’t mean you can slack off because you’re ‘already good’. Make sure to keep up the hard work even in subjects you’re excelling in.
  • Get studying – The best way to improve is keep working! So pump up your study playlist, get out your highlighters and start working towards that ATAR goal you know you can achieve! 

ATAR calculators are great for setting goals and planning ahead, and using either (or both!) of the methods above can really help you visualise how to approach your HSC study.

Some reverse ATAR calculators you can check out include the one from Matrix here, one from Talent 100 here and the DuxCollege one here!

Just remember that these are benchmarks and even the best ATAR calculator can be wrong sometimes! As Mr. Weasley once said; Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

Looking for some extra help with your HSC studies?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!


Maddison Leach completed her HSC in 2014, achieving an ATAR of 98.00 and Band 6 in all her subjects. Having tutored privately for two years before joining Art of Smart, she enjoys helping students through the academic and other aspects of school life, even though it sometimes makes her feel old. Maddison has had a passion for writing since her early teens, having had several short stories published before joining the world of blogging. She’s currently studying a Bachelor of Design at the University of Technology Sydney and spends most of her time trying not to get caught sketching people on trains.