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ATAR bonuses scrapped for WA secondary school students studying more difficult subjects

May 15, 2024

Original Article:

Students studying more difficult ATAR subjects in Western Australia will no longer have additional bonuses counted as part of their scores, under new changes announced by education authorities.

From 2026, students studying Maths Methods, Maths Specialist and languages other than English will not receive any bonus to their ATAR score.

The changes will effectively alter the tertiary entrance aggregate used to calculate ATAR scores by taking away the previous automatic 10 per cent bonus that was added.

Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC) CEO Andrew Crevald told ABC Radio Perth the changes would "level the playing field" for students not wanting to study more difficult courses.

"The reason that we're doing that is firstly because of [needing] a bit of consistency nationally," he said.

"There's no other state that provides that kind of bonus to ATAR course scaled score, so that's a factor."

Mr Crevald said the changes would "give the same weight to each subject irrespective of the discipline" by altering the maximum aggregate score across subjects.

Currently, students studying subjects deemed more difficult can receive a maximum aggregate score of 430, compared to a maximum 400 score for students who do not.

Harder courses 'hard to identify'
When questioned whether this would disincentivise students to study more difficult subjects, Mr Crevald said it was "hard to identify which courses are harder than others".

"It's certainly the case for Maths, you could certainly argue that Methods and Specialist Maths are harder than the Applications course," he said.

"But it's hard to identify which courses are harder [than others] because it requires different capacities to be good at different subjects."

Mr Crevald indicated traditional scaling that recognised different levels of academic competition across subjects, such as Maths Methods, Maths Specialist and languages, would remain "as they are now".

But he emphasised scaling changed per year group and could not be guaranteed across subjects.

"We can't guarantee you one subject is going to be scaled up or down," he said.

"Rather than putting Maths Specialist, Methods and languages on a pedestal, we're making it more consistent across all subjects."

Current WA year 11 and 12 ATAR students will not be impacted by the changes.

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