It’s funny how an entire year of torment and suffering can be summed up by a single number. It’s also kind of funny how that number doesn’t show any trace of what you might have gone through- the death of your grandfather, the unwelcomed arrival of an ex-boyfriend who forces himself on you, the soul-cracking amount of pressure your parents put on you to do as well as your siblings…

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the system in Western Australia, in essence, this is how it works. Year 12 is the final year of high school education, and is approximately 3 terms long, or around 30 weeks, Monday to Friday, six hours a day + after school sports etc. You do tests and assignments etc. throughout the year and you get an end of year report card. You graduate (hopefully), they give you a pat you on the back, and you spend the next few weeks studying your ass off for the Tertiary Entrance Exams- the TEE. The TEE are worth exactly 50% of your final mark. In other words, those 30 weeks of Year 12 are worth exactly the same as a three hour exam. Half your mark comes from school, the other half from TEE.

The TEE results are ranked throughout the state. Your score is compared to every other score throughout WA. Each is assigned a number, the Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER). If you have a TER of 80, you achieved better than 80% of all students who sat the exams. The highest is 99.95, because it means you’re better than 99.95% of people, leaving you as top dog- you can’t achieve 100 because you can’t be better than yourself. What university course you can get in to is dependent on your TER. For example, if you want to do Psychology at the University of WA, you’ll need a TER of 81 or higher, and must have gotten a C in English. To get into Curtin University of Technology, you need a TER of 78 (I believe) and so on.

A few days ago, the results were sent out to every student in the state. Although I’d been waiting for weeks, desperate to know how well I did in human biology, terrified to know how badly I did in maths, when the results were released online, I found I did not want to check them. It was like there was a large stone caught at the back of my neck that made it difficult to swallow. What was wrong with me? What was there to be afraid of? So, urged by my peers and family, I forced myself to check. This is what I got.

Subject Data

2007 HBIOL A 70.7

2007 ECONS C 63.8
2007 MUSIC C 62.7

2007 AMATH C 45.1
2007 ENLIT C 43.8


Minimum TER required is

Competence in English: Not
Your 4/5 subject Tertiary Entrance Rank is 82.75

Subjects used in this TER are (2007)HBIOL (2007)ECONS
(2007)MUSIC (2007)AMATH
To be eligible for consideration for admission to courses at Curtin
University of Technology you must satisfy the University’s competence in English
requirement. Successful completion of the STAT Written English will satisfy this
requirement. You are invited to sit this test. For details on how to enrol click here.

82.75. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. I became bitter about it for a number of hours- everyone I asked from Trinity had scored in the 90’s. Liam pulled off an incredibly 98.6- I tip my metaphorical hat of +5 Respect to him. Anyway, it wasn’t a bad mark by any means, but it wasn’t a great score either.
I look back on the year and I think of all the things I could have done
differently. Why hadn’t Mrs Hird told me that "It’s better to be an A
Discrete student than a C Applicable student" at the start of the year,
rather than most of the way through? I wish I had taken English instead
of Lit- English is more applicable, with film studies and advertisement
analysis and the likes. It’s not just reading six really complex, boring
books and writing about how enlightening they are. I wish I had
remembered that performance was 50% of the final mark in music- how
much harder I would have practised!  Just a few hours of suffering could have led to a better mark, a mark which would be a permanent notch on my record to say how well I did in high school. I really do admire Liam for suffering all those breakdowns in exchange for being able to say he achieved better than 98.6% of people in the state. Why hadn’t I done that?

Useless, of course, to wish you could change the past. What’s done is done. I was absolutely dumbfounded to see they used my Applicable mark over my English Lit. And of course, having failed the latter, I’m apparently incompetent at English. So, Curtin, UWA and Murdoch universities denied me. $140 later, I’ll be sitting the Special Tertiary Admittance Test on the 5th of January with the aim of proving I can speak English. After reading about the test, I felt weak and panicky. Although it’s probably easier than I’m expecting (as Richard pointed out, I’m going up against non-Lit students), all the official language telling me what was being tested and what mark I’d need for acceptance, what procedure I’d have to take if I became ill on the day etc… The pressure made my heart race. I’ve got a week to prepare for it, so I guess I’ll be doing the best I can.

It’s funny how that number, the TER, is so very indifferent from what you might have gone through. It’s just a statistic, just an easy way of organising human achievement, which is half made up of a few three-hour exams. It’s an absurd system. Madness. The system changes next year to give less weight to the exams and more weight to the school year, but too late for me, it seems. I think, ideally, tests and exams should be eliminated, and a mark should be calculated from assignments, and from smaller assessments in the form of ordinary classwork. The teacher just decides that he’s going to make Tuesday’s classwork the assessed one without the student’s knowledge. Because they don’t know which days are being assessed and which days are not, it encourages them to apply themselves all year round and basically eliminates cramming, forcing students to use a more practical revision strategy… But I don’t know, there’s probably a tremendous flaw in my idea which prevents it from being adopted. I’d say it’s a better idea than a three hour exam summing up half your mark, though.

So that’s my entire year, summed up in a single number. Heh. Well done Liam, and everyone else who’s happy with their mark. Good luck for whatever you choose to do next year. I’ll be seeing you, I hope.


2 thoughts on “My TER

  1. Coco says:

    This has sparked a huge fuss with me and Craig xDIn short, we’re outraged the government thinks they know you well enough to even measure you literacy competence.Elaborated, here is our conversation.三幸 姫 (sanyuhime)= me王子様 (oujisama)= craig三幸 姫 says:82.75 ??JESUS.That’s so good O_OWhy is he complaining??王子様 says:It is so disrespecting of the education system to say Xin is incompetent at English三幸 姫 says:I KNOWHOLY FUCK. I never thought of it that way.Wow.. They know shit all.王子様 says:Pretty fucking stupid hey三幸 姫 says:Especially because he did litNicole didn’t meet competency because she did lit as wellLit shouldn’t be scaled down.. It’s a lot fucking harder than the other English courses.Mind you I got a B or something in Lit.. hehThat was only year 10 though. Year 12 matters more.王子様 says:Year 12 is harder in general tooyeahThat’s what you said I guess :3三幸 姫 says:^_^I got top student because I chose my subjects like a lazy fucker XDIt isn’t fair that I get something like "top student" for hardly trying and someone like Xin get RNM for english competency because he chose to challenge himself.王子様 says:So many holes三幸 姫 says:I wish I stayed in the normal math class in year … 9? or 10.I wish my teacher told me being an A in normal was better than being lower in a more challenging class. I can fully appreciate what Xin said about that.I got a D because my mental state dropped for a prolonged amount of time.That D doesn’t tell anyone how many tears I endured not understanding any of the work, or how stressed I got for getting so behind, or that I was prioritising for my self betterment, or whatever the case.It tells people Katie is too lazy too apply herself and do her work in favor of her personal desires.I feel so bad for Xin. I know how he feels.. </3王子様 says:I hate it how people can look at your final marks too, I think nothing of it if it’s lowand think*三幸 姫 says:mmm王子様 says:Unless it’s Seth low etc三幸 姫 says:I hate how they can even think to grade your mental worth as a person on maybe one eighth of what they see.王子様 says:On a number三幸 姫 says:On absolutely anything.It’s like giving a toy to a cat and then the same toy to an elephant and grading them on how playful they are with it.I can understand certain standards having to be met, but you seriously can’t fairly grade that unless you stalk a person for a whole year.王子様 says:lol metaphor D: 三幸 姫 says:A person who has fairly good grammar and spelling in school and uses dis typ ov speekin al da tym ovawise might get a better score than someone who appreciates the english language and reads to up their knowledge, but is too overworked planning their future to prioritise irrelevant schoolingNow who is the one with more of a future in that situation, really?王子様 says:Yes indeedhehe, I can relate, I guess. I hate the education system.

  2. Liam, Baron of Hoskuldstadir says:

    Thanks for the kind words. To be honest there were times when I hated getting high marks, especially the inability to not come across as a smug asshole when I sat cosy with a 96% in Applic while John beside me was holding a 45%. In spite of all that though, the biggest thing I learnt was that I was incredibly blind to let myself become so overwhelmed with performance that my health was endangered. I also learned that its wrong to let marks to stand in place of an identity that doesn’t exist. So I agree with you in that a single number out of 99.95 is an inadequate indication of how much we learnt in 2007.

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