Seventy-five per cent of Australian senior students are experiencing or have experienced ATAR anxiety, according to new research from Cluey Learning. Surprisingly, more than half of these students consider their parents' ATAR anxiety to be worse than their own.
The nationwide survey of senior students* coincides with Term 4 when Year 11 students are choosing their final subjects and Year 12 sit their final exams. It reveals that a specific ATAR score is "extremely important" to 57 per cent of pupils. More than half have a particular ATAR score they wish to achieve, with 55 per cent aiming for an ATAR of 90 or above. Despite this, more than half of students believe an ATAR over 90 is "impossible".
When it comes to an ATAR under 60, more than 80 per cent of students agree this score would be detrimental to their life and/or career. Twenty five per cent of students who are aiming for a specific ATAR score agree they are unsure what they will do if they miss out on the rank they hope for.
In response to the research, Cluey Learning launched #ATARanxiety, a campaign encouraging students to shift focus from their final number to what can be done today.
Chief Learning Officer Dr Selina Samuels said at critical moments in education, students can feel like nothing else in the world matters except that final year or result.
"It's easy to become fixated on the end and its enormity instead of the small steps to take today to allow effective learning to continue. Rather than finding ways to remove the pressure, it's better to find ways to manage it. Learning how to best deal with stress and expectations can help build resilience. The challenge is learning how to distinguish between reasonable levels of stress and disproportionate anxiety," Dr Samuels said.
To get on top of ATAR anxiety, students expressed a number of tactics. Study was the top choice for managing ATAR anxiety, followed by "ignoring it", exercise and meditation. More than 85 per cent agreed that last minute study and help is an important part of the prep process. More than 85 per cent of students agreed that when studying alone they often have questions with which they need support.
"The last few weeks before the ATAR exams can feel lonely, Many students feel that all they can do is go over and over their notes on their own. That kind of repetition of familiar material makes students passive learners and breeds boredom. The trick to this final study stretch is to maintain your interest and to keep finding new ways to approach the same content. A tutor can help keep your study more lively in the final stretch and ensure no question goes unanswered."
Visit clueylearning.com.au/atar-anxiety/ for information on ATAR anxiety and senior student packages.