Ahh the ATAR Calculator, I'm sure many of you have used this over and over again throughout your VCE studies. If you're anything like me, every time you nailed or failed a SAC you've always gone to the ATAR Calculator to either give hope or commiserate and get prepared for a career working in McDonalds. But one question still remains, is the ATAR Calculator actually accurate?

In a word, yes. The ATAR Calculator is actually incredibly accurate for what it is, I have calculated my ATAR from the results given by VCAA on the ATAR Calculator and there was only a difference of 0.10 from my calculated ATAR in 2015.

However, there are several catches. The ATAR Calculates your ATAR from a certain year. That is, the ATAR calculated is actually what you would have achieved with the study scores from a certain year. So I basically calculated my ATAR from 2014 (as of writing). This means that, your ATAR will be different because you are a different cohort with a different set of skills.

What does this mean in terms of the ATAR Calculator? It means that you cannot fully know how the scaling will work out, or how well your cohort does, and this could theoretically lead to you getting a higher or lower ATAR.

There is a more important point however, accurately guessing your study scores is hard. I was often either lowballing or overestimating my skills throughout the year, before every SAC it was usually lower, and after a successful SAC it was really high. It gets worse the more you stress and worry about it, especially during exam time, when you should really be studying instead of placing so much stress on yourself with the calculator, using lower and lower estimated scores.

I thought I was smart and realised this, so I enlisted the help of spreadsheets and premade formulas to estimate my study scores using the statistics from last year. The grade distributions for subjects were basically known back to front by me instead of studying for my Further statistics SAC, oh the irony. But let's be clear, these were very inaccurate, and that was mainly because you shall have to guess your Exam results and your SAC results (especially early on in the year when you have not undertaken the SACs).

Once again, you are using data from study scores from a different year, and thus no matter how meticulous and accurate you are, your study score has the very high possibility of changing.

At the end of the day, you can be using the time to study and worrying less, but I know that many of you will still use it, I did and it didn't really do anything. It didn't make me work harder, but also didn't make me work less. It only increased my worry for my ATAR.

And that's the thing, as cliché as it might sound. Your ATAR does not define who you are. I know it's been repeated ad nauseum, but it's true. You might not listen to me now, under all the stress, work and pressure you have, but if you do well, you will be glad. However, if you don't do so well, it's nothing but an inconvenience to what you want.

So, calculate less, and worry not - we can't guess our futures anyway. Que sera sera.

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