How to get into uni with a low ATAR score

A university degree can give you the skills and qualifications you need to reach your dream career, but not everyone is eligible to study. It's normal to wonder whether you will get into uni. In fact 71% of prospective students worry they won’t get the marks to get into their preferred degree.*

But Year 12 results are not the only way into uni. Whether your ATAR isn’t quite high enough, or you don’t meet the subject prerequisites, here are some of the most common pathways you can take to reach your ideal course.

Paths to undergraduate courses

Around half of Deakin undergraduate students are admitted based solely on Year 12 results, while the other half follow a different pathway.

Pathways through our courses at Deakin

If you don't meet the requirements for your ideal course, you can apply to study a different course with a lower ATAR that has similar subjects or major sequences. After studying for a year, your demonstrated academic performance may mean you're eligible to transfer, with credit for the subjects you've completed. You might also be eligible to transfer from a single degree to a combined course, or from a general degree to a specialised one. Use Deakin's course finder to identify the best option for you.

Pathways through other Deakin campuses

Deakin offers courses at campuses across Victoria and online. A course's entry requirements and ATAR may vary based on where it's offered, while the quality of the course remains the same. If the ATAR at your chosen Deakin campus is too high, you could still be eligible to enrol at one of our other campuses. After your first trimester of study, you may be able to apply to transfer and take your course credits with you.

Pathways through TAFE

A qualification from a TAFE or private provider may give you credit points to put towards your Deakin degree, reducing the time you study. Studying a related subject area or course will give you the best chance of university entry and credit for prior learning. Deakin also has guaranteed TAFE entry pathways with specific TAFE courses and from eight TAFEs across Victoria and New South Wales. This means academic success at TAFE will guarantee you a place at Deakin afterwards. Use Deakin's credit for prior learning tool to see what you might be eligible for.

Pathways through Deakin College

Studying at Deakin College can provide a fast-tracked, guaranteed pathway to your preferred course at Deakin University. You can start studying in a campus environment right away, so you feel confident when you get to university. When you finish your diploma, you may be eligible to move straight into the second year of your chosen degree.

Pathways through other institutions

Other universities may offer similar courses with lower entry requirements. If you enrol at another institution, you may be eligible to apply for the same course at Deakin and receive credit for the work you’ve already completed. Our mid-year intake options may mean you can transfer after only a few months.

Pathways through the workforce

Not every first-year student has come straight from high school. Work experience or industry training can help you gain entry to or credit towards a university course. Deakin considers all relevant experience that demonstrates your capacity to complete an undergraduate degree.

I was demotivated in Year 12, and stopped trying. A year later, I wanted to study journalism, so sat a Special Tertiary Admissions Test to supplement my low ATAR. A couple of months later, I was accepted into Deakin.

Penny Cannata

Bachelor of Communication (Journalism)

Other pathways at Deakin

Deakin offers associate degrees in arts and education that act as transition courses into undergraduate study. When you complete a Deakin associate degree, you may be eligible for up to 18 months’ credit and guaranteed entry to courses within the University.

We also offer single units, giving students a taste of university study before committing to a whole course. After completing your units, you can apply to enrol in a full course and use them as credit towards your degree.

The Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) is a general aptitude test that shows whether you’re ready for tertiary study. If you've been out of high school for a year or more, a good STAT result can supplement a low ATAR when you apply for uni. Note that the test is most often sat by people with no formal qualifications, or whose qualifications are outdated, and not all courses or all institutions use the STAT for selection.

Study support after you enrol

Deakin offers a number of ways to help you control your workload and access help along the way as you study.

Study support

Deakin has a dedicated support team to help with every aspect of study. You can talk to someone face-to-face or online about writing assessments, researching, finding resources, planning your trimester and more. They will help you identify pressure points in your calendar and give you tips on managing the busiest times.

Peer mentors

Book a mentor meet-up and hear how a fellow student finds time to study, get their advice on study skills or fitting in to uni. You can even have a study session led by a student who has successfully completed your unit.

Online resources

Deakin's website has tonnes of valuable resources from assignment planners to referencing guides. Have a good look through Study Support for an essential overview and helpful study advice.

Learn more and get advice about your pathway to study at Deakin


*Deakin University Barriers, Drivers & University Performance Research (Global Engagement) 2017.