How to deal with an ATAR/VCE result you weren't expecting


You might be here because you’ve just received you ATAR or VCE results and it wasn't what you expected. A big statement you may have heard from a caring teacher or an understanding parent is that “your grades don't define you”. A high mark is not a ticket into adulthood or a reflection of who you are as a person. While there is nothing wrong with celebrating a result you are happy with, it’s the exact same with being upset at a result you weren’t expecting.

Cry it out

Yes, you can be upset - cry it out and talk about it with your friends and family. It’s upsetting when your final results feel like a summary of your life in school, and even more upsetting when that result is “low”. But guess what? Grades aren’t the only thing you achieved in school; think of the relationships you’ve formed, the life skills you were taught, the fun you had goofing off during break. Most of these things can’t be measured. You learnt about life, yourself and the people you care about which will stick with you a hell of a lot longer than memorising biology terms or history dates.

Take a breather

Take some time out for much needed R&R after the HSC or VCE experience. After putting your mind and body through the stress of the exams, it can feel like you’ve gone through it all over again waiting for your result. Plan some time with family and friends, or even some time on your own - especially over the holiday break to enjoy your freedom outside of the classroom.

“What’d you get?” x 100

It’s inevitable that people are going to be curious about your results. Remember that you don’t have to tell them. It can be tough, especially for all the family gatherings around the holiday season, but mentioning to your parents or siblings that you don’t want to tell the extended family can help you dodge the questions you may receive.


The truth is, some people will openly state what they got - whether that’s a FB status update or a cheeky Snap or Insta story. If you feel like you’d rather not see it, or you’re not in the best mind frame to celebrate with them yet, simply unplug. Turn off your notifications or uninstall the app - your friends will understand you need time if you tell them.

But what about Uni?

A lower than expected ATAR or VCE result doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do what you set out to. There are a tonne of options in terms of bonus points, bridging courses and alternative streams to get into the course you want to do. Think of your plan b, whether that’s applying for a second-choice now or taking a gap year to work or travel before you head into what’s next. Always remember that there are successful and happy people out there that didn’t go to Uni.

People who get it

It can be kinda hard to talk about how you’re feeling to a friend or parent who isn’t going what you’re going through. Luckily, there are heaps of organisations out there that do. Reach out if you need a helping hand or someone to chat to.

Youth Beyond Blue

Black Dog Institute



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