How to Order Your VTAC University Preferences

By ATAR Notes in Uncategorised
11th of August 2017

For a complete guide on VTAC preferences and course offers, get around this short video series. You’ll be an expert in no time!

So, VTAC opened for uni preferences on Monday. Exciting – but perhaps also a little daunting.

You have until 28 September to make a timely application, but that time will likely go by really quickly. As such, it’s important you have a decent understanding of what VTAC preferences actually are, and how they work. This article will give a quick overview of exactly that!

Don’t worry – it’s not too complicated once you get the general gist of things.



So, the first thing to do is to make a VTAC account. It shouldn’t take too long at all, but there are a few questions you’ll have to answer. It’s worth doing, because you’ll definitely need it sooner rather than later!

Once you’ve done that, you can start to submit and order your preferences.

Until applications close, you can modify these as much as you like. So if you change your mind, that’s sweet – you can just change around your courses on a whim.

Aside from making your VTAC account, you’ll want to start doing some research on potential pathways for next year. You can find lots of great information on university websites, at Open Days, and also on the ATAR Notes Forums! In fact, we have specific university boards, and you can ask all of your questions there.


Ask your university questions here!
General uni discussion | UniMelb | Monash | RMIT | Deakin | La Trobe | Swinburne | ACU | Vic Uni



The fundamental take-home point of this article is: list your preferences in order of how much you want to get into that course.

It sounds like pretty simple advice, but year after year, students fall into the preferences trap. Instead of ordering courses based on their desire to get in, they list them based on how likely they think it is that they’ll receive an offer. But, to be blunt about it, this is a bad idea.

Let us explain why.

Say you really want to study Law at Monash. The clearly-in ATAR in 2017 was about 98 – so, very high. You’re also somewhat interested in Arts at Monash, and the clearly-in ATAR for that was about 85. Still high, but lower than the clearly-in ATAR for Law.

Now, if you didn’t know how the preference system worked, you might order your preferences like this, because you think it’s more likely that you’ll receive an offer for Arts:


  1. Bachelor of Arts @ Monash University – ATAR ~85.00
  2. Bachelor of Laws (Honours) @ Monash University – ATAR ~98.00


In December, you receive your ATAR, and you’re stoked to see that you achieved a 98.45. But because your first preference was Arts, and you had that as your first preference, this is the only offer you will receive in the first round. Ultimately, you may miss out on Law – even though you achieved a high enough ATAR.

This is why it’s so important to list your courses simply in terms of preference, so more like this (for the particular situation above):


  1. Bachelor of Laws (Honours) @ Monash University – ATAR ~98.00
  2. Bachelor of Arts @ Monash University – ATAR ~85.00



You might be wondering what would happen, though, if you listed Law first, but then received an ATAR lower than 98.00.

Having Arts as your second preference doesn’t make it less likely that you will receive an offer. This is due to the way that the preference system works:


  1. You submit up to eight preferences to VTAC
  2. VTAC passes on your details to the relevant institutions
  3. Each institution assesses your application individually – they don’t know if other institutions will make you an offer
  4. Each institution tells VTAC whether they wish to make you an offer for that particular course
  5. If at least one institution says yes, VTAC makes you an offer for that course
  6. If more than one institution says yes, VTAC makes you an offer for the highest ranked of those courses on your preference list



This is still some way away, so no need to give it too much thought at the moment.

But if you don’t receive an offer in the first round, don’t give up hope. You might still receive an offer in a subsequent round.

If you do receive an offer, but it’s not your first preference, accept it. You might get a different offer in the second round, at which point you can pull out from the first offer. If you don’t accept that first round offer, though, you run the risk of having no offer at all.

tl;dr: Order your preferences by the amount you want to study that course – nothing else.

Confused about how uni works? Check out this thread!