Pathways to Study

OP/ATAR Explained

Since 2020 the Australian Tertiary Access Rank (ATAR) has replaced the Overall Position (OP) in the Queensland secondary education system to align Queensland with other Australian states who have been using the ATAR for a number of years.

ATAR General Information

An Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) allows tertiary admissions centres to compare students from across Australia when they apply for tertiary study. The ATAR is a number between 0 and 99.95, in increments of 0.05. ATARs below 30 are not reported.

Unit 1 and 2 subjects will not contribute towards an ATAR, they are not suitable to meet the Subject Prerequisites.

To meet subject prerequisites, applicants will need to achieve a grade of C or higher in the applicable Unit 3 and 4 subjects.

The below table reflects the comparability of current Queensland Year 12 OP subjects to the new ATAR (general) subjects which will apply in the new system.

Current QLD Year 12 (OP Subjects)ATAR General Subjects
English as an Additional Language
Mathematics AGeneral Mathematics
Mathematics BMathematical Methods
Mathematics CSpecialist Mathematics
Biological ScienceBiology

The Queensland tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) has been assigned the responsibility to calculate the ATAR and issue results to Queensland year 12 students.

QTAC will calculate your ATAR and you will be assigned a separate selection rank for your VET qualification. For most courses, your application to study at JCU will be assessed for entry on whichever rank is higher.

JCU will consider and accept AQF VET qualifications as a basis of tertiary admission.  JCU allocates the following selection ranks to completed qualifications (either competency based or with a GPA of 4.0 for graded qualifications.

AQF VET QualificationSelection Rank
Certificate III68
Certificate IV74
Advanced Diploma91

The assigned election rank can change for graded qualifications depending on your GPA, or how many subjects completed as part of an incomplete Diploma or Advanced Diploma.

Alternative Entry Pathways for Non-ATAR Students

JCU has various pathway options available for students who may not have the higher enough ATAR or selection rank or who may not met the required subject pre-requisites for entry into their JCU undergraduate course.

Diploma of Higher Education

The Diploma of Higher Education is a one-year course (or two years, part-time) designed to help people who may not meet the academic requirements for entry into a Bachelor degree. The Diploma consists of a combination of introductory and first-year degree subjects, designed to help students develop the necessary skills to be successful university students.

Successful completion of the Diploma will give you a recognised qualification in its own right. Graduating with the Diploma will also allow you to enter many JCU Bachelor degree programs and may give you advanced standing, or credit, for some of the subjects you successfully completed.

Students in the Diploma course will enrol in specific study plans mapped to a target degree. You can choose from a variety of majors including:

  • Business
  • Business Studies
  • Dentistry (Indigenous Pathway)
  • Education
  • Engineering and Applied Science
  • General Studies
  • Health
  • Information Technology
  • Psychological Science
  • Science
  • Social Work
  • Society and Culture

Tertiary Access Course

The Tertiary Access Course (TAC) is a pathway course for mature-age students or school leavers who do not have an ATAR Score or recognised experience (must be at least 18 years old at time of application). Note this course is only available to Australian citizens and permanent residents.

There are no subject fees with TAC but there is a Student Services and Amenities Fee for each subject. Eligible students can defer this fee. Please go to Student Services and Amenities Fee for more details.

TAC can be completed full time or part time. TAC is available for internal study only on the Cairns and Townsville campuses.