Do you need to change your preferences?

So you’ve applied to university – congratulations! Perhaps you’ve applied through a Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC) like UAC, QTAC, or VTAC. Maybe you applied directly to the university of your choice. Either way, did you know that once you’ve submitted your applications, they’re not set in stone? Right up until the very last offer round, you can always change your preferences.

Preferences – the basics

By the time you’ve submitted your applications, it’s assumed that you understand ‘preferences’ and what it means for your application. But just in case you’re still a bit uncertain, let’s explain.

Preferences are just a term for the courses you want to apply for, listed in the order you’d like to study them.

At Study Work Grow we recommend that you list your dream course(s) first, some more realistic options next, and one safe option last. That way you’ll increase the odds that you’ll get at least one offer in the main offer rounds.

Listing the maximum number of possible preferences on your applications is also a good strategy. This will give you the maximum opportunity to receive at least one offer – or maybe more.

Get more tips on choosing preferences in our video:


Flexibility can be handy

If you’re certain that you’ve applied to the best uni and selected the best courses for you, that’s great. Move on and wait for the offer rounds to start up.

But if you’ve decided that you’re not happy with the universities or courses you’ve listed, or perhaps the order you listed your preference just isn’t sitting right with you any more, guess what? There’s good news – the whole applications system is designed to allow you to change your preferences.

When can you change your preferences?

Most universities and TACs provide plenty of opportunities to change your preferences.

After submitting your application and before you take your exams or get your results, you can usually log into your application and adjust your preferences.

Changing your preferences is usually free, but some TACs may charge a fee if you change them more than two or three times.

Here are the change of preference cut-off dates for the main rounds of offers after ATAR release dates:

Tertiary Admission Centre Results Date Main Round Offers Date Change of Preference Cut-off for main round
UAC 14 December 21 December 15 December
VTAC 11 December 21 December 13 December
QTAC 15 December 21 December 18 December
TISC 18 December 22 December 18 December
SATAC 18 December 11 January 2024 3 January 2024
UTAS 13 December Mid December Contact UTAS

Note: If you’ve received an early conditional offer for one or more of the courses on your preferences, and you’d still like more offers during the main rounds, it’s best to call the admission centre or institution directly if you’re unsure about what to do next.

Once the main round offers have happened, another window is usually opened up. You’ll get the chance to change your preferences again and possibly receive more offers, then choose which one to accept. Or if you didn’t get an offer in the first round, you can have another go in the subsequent rounds.

Top tips for changing preferences

  1. Spend some time considering why you want to change your preferences before you go ahead and do it.
  2. Check if any fees or cut-off dates (and times) apply.
  3. If you’re unsure about what to do, pick up the phone and email or call someone at the TAC or university for advice.

Do you really need to change your preferences?

Consider adjusting your preferences if:

  • Your ATAR was better than you expected. If there’s a competitive course that you looked over because you didn’t think it was a realistic option before, move it to the top of your list.
  • Your ATAR wasn’t as good as you had hoped for. To ensure you get an offer, change your preferences to list courses within your ATAR bracket at the top of your list.
  • You have had a change of heart about the ideal course or university for you.
  • There’s a new course that’s become available and you think it would be perfect.
  • You’ve discovered a course you didn’t know about when you applied.
  • You’ve been advised that the pre-requisites for a course you had on your list have changed, or a course you’d applied for has been dropped by the university.
  • You’re having a look back over your application and you realise that you didn’t put your preferences in the right order.

Is changing your preferences really necessary?

If you get a higher ATAR than you expected (yay you), don’t immediately rush off and change your preferences just because you can apply for law or engineering now. If you’re happy with your preferences, the best thing to do is stick with them – there’s no such thing as ‘wasting’ a good ATAR.

You might feel pressured into thinking you should change your list, particularly if your friends are talking about changing theirs and cut-off dates are coming up. Hold off, spend some time researching any changes you’re thinking of making, and be sure you’re doing it for all the right reasons.

Double check any course pre-requisites as well as your eligibility before you go adding any new courses or moving them up your list. It would be a real shame to miss out on receiving an offer because you didn’t take a few minutes to read the entry criteria.

Don’t panic

If you miss the change of preference cut-offs for the first round, that’s OK – you’ll get the chance to change them again before the next offer round.

If all the offer rounds are over and you have an offer but it’s not for the course you really wanted, call up the university and find out what your options are. You might be able to start a different degree then transfer after completing a few subjects.

Most importantly, if you don’t receive any offers at all, please remember that you still have lots of options. Nearly every uni will have at least one alternative pathway, from bridging courses to experience-based entry options. You may be surprised to learn about the number of choices available to help you get into the university of your dreams.

Need more information?

If you’re still after more information, including key dates and change of preference events being held by universities, you can grab a copy of our Change of Preference Guide from the bookshop, free for Study Work Grow members.


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