Message to stressed students: ATAR results do not measure your value

End-of-year exams can create high stress for school-leavers, and for many, the anxiety lingers until ATAR results come in.

EducationDaily
EducationDaily
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End-of-year exams can create high stress for school-leavers, and for many, the anxiety lingers until ATAR results come in.

La Trobe University Assessment and Pedagogy Lecturer Dr Kate Lafferty told EducationDaily that there are many ways graduates can mitigate the pressure they may be feeling while they wait for their results.

The first step is to have a contingency plan.

“There are a number of options for students who don’t achieve their desired ATAR outcome,” she says. “There are many pathways available for most courses, and it will be a matter of researching your desired course and determining the options. For example, a student might start with a diploma as a pathway into a bachelor’s degree or commence a less competitive bachelor’s degree – then transfer into the desired course (as long as they meet the criteria).”

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To remind students that the ATAR is just one metric that measures academic achievement at a period in time, she says it’s important to reinforce “it does not define you, nor does it measure your value”.

“In fact, this is the only time that ATAR will be a focus for you. No one asks about ATAR or even looks at it beyond this time,” she says.

Exams are over – so enjoy it

Encouraging graduating secondary students to relish their time off school and focus on exercise or social activities they enjoy while waiting for their results is a positive strategy.

“Worrying about the outcome won’t alter it, and it’s important to remember that there are various options available,” she says.

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“Reach out to your school’s key career and pathways staff as early as possible [when you receive your result] to explore the multiple options to access your preferred course.”

For parents, Dr Lafferty says supporting an anxious student involves encouraging your child to talk about their feelings and offering strategies to manage worries and stress.

“Reinforce the many paths their child can take to achieve their goals,” she says.

“If anxiety is becoming overwhelming, consider talking to a mental health professional. They will be able to provide targeted support and strategies.”

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