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Dr Poh Hillock standing outside a sandstone building with trees behind her.
Australia's University Teacher of the Year, ֱ's Dr Poh Hillock
14 December 2023

With ATAR scores out this week, school leavers can find out how to get the best from their results with advice from Australia’s University Teacher of the Year.

Congratulating students on completing year 12, ֱ’s encouraged students to be proud of what they have achieved, to follow their passion and use their ATAR score as a stepping stone.

Dr Hillock has a personalised approach to supporting students at ֱ, where she has taught more than 20,000 mathematics students over 10 years, including many entering their first year of university.

So, what are the practical steps for school leavers to consider? Poh’s tips shed some light on the options and how to get personalised advice. 

1. Explore your options - your dream program may be within reach  

“If you have your heart set on a particular course, but you don’t quite get the results you are hoping for, don’t give up. Continue to list your dream course as your first preference, but consider listing a related program at ֱ with a lower ATAR requirement as a second preference. This may give you the option to improve your admission rank and switch to your preferred course after your first year of study,” Poh said.

“It might take a little longer than you expected, but I have seen many students take a route they never imagined and with a little patience, they have gone on to achieve remarkable things.”

2. Be open to opportunities

“Even if your results aren’t quite what you expected, it’s important to take a breath and focus on the positives. It’s important to ask, 'How can I make my ATAR work for me?'” Poh said.

“If you start a related program, I encourage you to fully engage with the program. You may find unexpected doors open.”

3. Remember – you’re not alone

“ATAR is not a one-size fits all approach. If you enter university through a different pathway, you won’t be the only one,” Poh said.

“It’s important to remember that once you’re at university, your ATAR score will become a distant memory. What will matter is how you follow your passion and take every opportunity once you get here – whatever you study.”

4. Access the support available

“I encourage students to access support – there is so much out there,” Poh said.

“I really encourage students to contact the team at ֱ's . Our team will help you to explore next steps to help you get into university and go through options to access your preferred program.”

5. Aim high

“Don’t be afraid – trust your abilities. Remember that life doesn’t always follow a set plan, often it is a winding road,” Poh said.

“Be flexible, be patient, seek guidance and support from those who have gone before you, and whatever you do, aim high.”

For school leavers who achieve a higher ATAR score than they expected, Poh’s advice is the same - know your options, seek out support and go for it.

“There are many pathways that could lead to a dream career – you just need to find the one that's best for you.”

For ATAR advice and support, students can contact the team at ֱ's . 

VNR interview with ֱ Senior Lecturer and Australia's University Teacher of the Year, Dr Poh Hillock is available via

Media: ֱ Communications, communications@uq.edu.au, +61 429 056 139