Using A Levels for Entry to Australian Universities

25/06/202410 minute read
Using A Levels for Entry to Australian Universities

A Level qualifications are widely accepted for university entrance around the world, including in Australia. However, the admission process can vary based on your citizenship status.

In this blog, I'll explore these nuances, offer guidance on ensuring you meet the correct criteria, and provide tips on how to maximize your A Level qualifications for a successful application to Australian universities.

Understanding the Classification of Applicants for Australian Universities

It is important for students to understand the differences between Australian citizens, residents and New Zealand citizens (domestic for the purpose of admission) and international citizens when applying to Australian universities with A Level qualifications.

Universities in Australia classify students based on their citizenship status, and the country in which they finished their high school studies is irrelevant for admissions purposes.

  • Australian citizens, residents, and New Zealand citizens presenting A Level qualifications are treated as domestic applicants and therefore universities convert their A Level grades into an ATAR score for admissions purposes, ranking them against all other applicants.
  • For international citizens schools typically list guaranteed entrance requirements that students must meet for entrance, either by listing the exact letter grades that must be achieved (i.e. AAA) or a tariff number.

Because the number of domestic applicants applying to Australian universities using A Level qualifications is relatively small, universities may not publicize the guaranteed entrance requirements for domestic applicants, which may be different from international applicants! Domestic students should not assume that the international guaranteed entrance requirements apply to them, and should double check requirements specific to them.

When available, domestic applicants should ensure that the university’s listed requirements are applicable to them (typically in the form of a toggle bar on the university’s website that switches between Domestic/International requirements) or contact the university directly in order to confirm requirements.

It’s not uncommon for admissions requirements to be higher for domestic applicants compared to international applicants, since domestic students pay lower fees!

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How do A Levels convert to ATAR?

There isn’t an "official" ATAR to A Level conversion, but each university offers their own rough conversion. Some are as simple as "These A-level scores = this approximate ATAR" and while some offer a tariff system for conversion.

Australian National University's (ANU) entrance requirements are a good approximation of other top uni requirements. The University of Sydney uses the same scale.

A-level conversion: UK GCE A Levels best 3 or best 4 subjects, whichever provides the higher rank (A*=6, A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, E=1). All A Level exams must be taken in the same academic year, with the exception of one subject which can be from the preceding or following year.”

ANU’s minimum entry for courses range from 12 to 17 on this scale. So that means for some courses (less competitive) students could get in with BBB. The highest minimum entry is a 17, which is the equivalent of A*A*A.

Are there required A Level subjects that students must take?

It depends! Some universities list prerequisite A Level subjects, while others operate on “assumed knowledge” entrance.

For example, for the Bachelor of Science degree at Melbourne, they require:

A Level Mathematics, one of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and an approved A or

AS Level English subject

Contrast this to UNSW, which does not have formal prerequisite courses, but rather “assumed knowledge”. UNSW lists the course equivalents that students should have taken before entry in order to be successful.

While not meeting the assumed knowledge will not impact admission to UNSW, the student would face significant knowledge gaps if they start their university studies without this foundation!

What additional standardized tests may be required?

Students applying to competitive programs, such as Medicine, may be required to take an additional standardized test (i.e. the UCAT) in order to successfully meet the admissions requirements. This standardized test may hold significant weight in the admissions process.

International students who are not native speakers of English may also be required to take an English proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Students may be able to use A or AS Level English Literature or Language to pass out of this requirement.

Is there an advantage to taking more A Levels?

Generally speaking, yes! Our philosophy at CGA is that students should receive as well rounded an education as possible at the high school level, which can be achieved by taking 4 A Levels.

A full time CGA student almost always studies 4 A Levels, even though the minimum requirement for university admissions is 3. In the case that the student does not enjoy a particular subject, or an AS exam does not go as well as they had hoped, a student can drop their 4th subject after their AS year and still have the necessary 3 subjects to successfully apply to universities.

In addition, certain universities present guaranteed admission boundaries that differ for students presenting 3 vs 4 A Levels. For example, the Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree at ANU requires a tariff entrance of 14 if presenting 3 A Levels, and 16 if presenting 4 A Levels.

14 means the minimum entrance standard is AAB, whereas 16 means BBBB if presenting the additional 4th A Level. In this case, when taking 4 A Levels, there are slightly lower requirements per subject.

Why Should Students Take A Levels?

Join Dr Jamie Beaton, co-founder of Crimson Global Academy (CGA), as he explores the renowned British A-Levels curriculum. Learn why A-Levels are considered the most rigorous, how they set you up for success and how A-Levels prepare you for top universities like Harvard, Yale, and Cambridge.

How do students apply to Australian Universities?

How do they submit their applications?

Australian and NZ citizens (and Australian Permanent Residents) submit their applications through the application system for the various Australian states. This process is the same process for domestic students who have attended high schools in the country.

What are the relevant deadlines for entry?

Students can start filling in basic information and ranking programs before the end of the calendar year for entrance in Semester 1 of the following calendar year, to start in March. This means that a timely application is due around September, before students start sitting their final A Level examinations in October.

Admissions decisions are released in multiple rounds, starting in December, and all the way up to the end of February of the following calendar year.

CGA students will need assessable qualifications in order to receive an offer, which means that students sitting exams in October will receive their results by mid to end of January, at which time their results would be assessed. After this, it is possible for universities to evaluate their grades and choices, and extend offers. Most Australian universities understand that A Level results are released a bit later compared to other domestic and international counterparts.

  • For CGA students applying by VTAC, they will typically receive offers in the January offer round 2 domestic, with offers made in this round to be released on 30 January 2024
  • For CGA students applying by UAC, they will typically receive offers in the January Round 2 or February Round 1, with offers made in this round to be released on 23 January or 6 February

Please note that for students aiming to begin their studies in Semester 1, they need to complete at least 3 A Level examinations in the prior year’s October examination session in order to have final A Level results by mid January. If students are sitting additional examinations in January, these results will not be released until March, which means that students will most likely have to apply for Semester 2 or 3 entrance.

Are there additional requirements such as essays or recommendation letters?

Typically no. Most universities only require a selection or ranking of course preferences, in addition to academic documentation.

Students applying to residential college systems at various universities may be required to submit personal statements, CVs, reference letters, and also attend an interview.

Applicants to ANU need to submit proof of co-curricular activity involvement outside of the classroom.

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What University support does CGA provide?

CGA will support by providing any necessary document in support of a student’s application or candidacy, which may include:

Students will have to submit their official exam results from Pearson in order to receive consideration for offers from universities.

In addition, CGA will recommend the most appropriate universities and courses for students to apply to, given their academic results, and career goals.

For more information, speak to our Academic Advisors for personalised support.