A-level results are released on Thursday 15th August. You can check your university status on the UCAS website when UCAS Track goes live from around 8am. You will be able to see if you have been accepted by your first choice – but marks are not shown. You will need to go to your school or college to pick up your individual grades. Exact times will be determined by your school, which is often around 9am or 10am - so do check with them.
The first thing you should do is sign into UCAS Track. If you were very close to achieving the required grades you might still have been accepted by your first choice university or your insurance choice. You might be offered an alternative by the university, which will be presented on UCAS as 'changed course offer', which you will need to accept or decline.
If you get better grades than expected you can use the UCAS Adjustment service which runs between 16th and 31st August to see what other options are available to you from universities or courses with higher entry requirements.
If you have failed to achieve your expected grades and they don't match up to your university offers, try not to worry. Give yourself time to think and consider your next steps; it is important to have a clear understanding of the different options which are available to you moving forward.
Even if you didn’t meet the conditions of your original offer, your university may still accept you on your course – make sure you speak to them first. Or you might find that some universities offer you a place on a different course that they feel is more suited to you.
It may be that your course is not oversubscribed and you can get in anyway. If you’ve achieved close to the conditions of your firm offer then they might still be able to offer you a place. Let them know if you have extenuating circumstances that hindered your performance during A-levels, there may be exemptions.
Find a course through Clearing
Clearing allows you to apply for university places that haven’t been filled in the first round of applications. You might end up having to go to a different university or to study a completely different course than you had planned, but if you’re certain that university is the right path for you then this is your best chance of getting in.
You can use the UCAS search tool to find courses you want to apply for and then contact the university directly to have a chat with them about the course and see if they're willing to give you a place.
If you do not meet your university offers and there is no flexibility on this, you can contact the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000 or via Twitter. They have a team of expert advisors who can talk you through your different options however unexpected your results may be.
You can also find an alternative with lower entry requirements through Clearing www.ucas.com but if you want to pursue Clearing then you will need to move quickly. Begin to make calls as soon as you receive your results, however it is important to be wary of accepting second best by rushing into Clearing and picking a degree or university that you might not enjoy.
Resitting your A-level exams in 2020
If you find that you cannot get a place at either of your chosen institutions, you may wish to consider resitting your exams; speak to your Head of Sixth Form or class tutors for more details about this option.
You can also contact a college of further education which offers A-level retakes for external candidates, which means you can study for your retakes at home and just pay the required exam and/or invigilation fee.
You could re-sit the course online if you decide that you want to work or do some volunteering whilst you study. If that’s the case, you can enroll on an online course which will give you a lot more flexibility because you are not confined to a classroom and set timetable. However, you will need to be self-disciplined.
Applying for your papers to be remarked
If you genuinely believe that there’s been a mistake made by your marker, you can request that your paper be remarked.
You’ll need to speak to your teacher or tutor to organise this for you and you will have to pay a fee which will only be refunded if your grade changes.
If you're counting on your grade increasing to secure your place at university, you should try to get the process started as soon as possible and keep the university updated as they're more likely to hold a place for you if you keep them in the loop.
Whilst it’s wise to get your request in ASAP, you should take a bit of time to consider if this is really the right move for you as remarking can also result in your grade coming down instead of up. Only go down this route if you really think there’s a mistake!
Get a Professional or Vocational qualification.
Professional and vocational qualifications offer a more straightforward path into certain professions.
Apprenticeships are a great way to enter the world of work and get valuable training at the same time. Apprenticeships are not just for entry-level roles; higher apprenticeships provide an opportunity to gain Level 4 qualifications or above, with most apprentices gaining an NVQ Level 4, HND, or foundation degree. Some offer the opportunity to progress to Level 7 (which is postgraduate degree level).
You’ll get to study for a qualification and get real on the job experience at the same time. Plus, you’ll be getting paid so it really is a great opportunity to kick off your career. Find out more about higher apprenticeships on the UCAS Site or at from GOV.UK
With a degree apprenticeship you can achieve a full Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. And just like traditional degrees, an apprenticeship is a great route to a great career.
In some industries, there is a higher value placed on professional qualifications than degrees. For instance, if you want to work in HR, most employers request a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification, not an HR degree.
A professional qualification might even help you enter a university at a higher level. For example, Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications will allow you to enter a fast-track programme to become a Chartered Accountant.
Plus, some non-academic qualifications are equal in difficulty and prestige to a Masters’ degree, so you can still become a leader in your field without going to university.
The Qualifications and Credit Framework can help you compare academic and non-academic qualifications from this Website.
Alternatively, take a gap year
You could take a complete break from studying and go travelling abroad for a while, or find a job that is relevant to your chosen career to gain some experience. Just make sure you use this year out wisely. If you are going to be reapplying for a university place, think about how you can use this time to develop yourself further and make your UCAS application stronger next time round.
As a teenager, you have your whole life to build a career you love. Missing out of the A-level grades you wanted isn’t the end of your ambitions, but the beginning of your new plan.