A guide to A-Level Results!

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A Guide to A-Level Results Day_0In the UK, A-level results day takes place on 14 August this year. If all it takes is the sheer mention of that date to make you feel queasy, you’re likely to be in the majority.
For many of you, this will be the day when you find out for sure whether or not you’ll be going to your top-choice university. Although some schools release A-level results on their own intranet systems, the majority of students will need to head in to their respective schools and colleges in order to pick up the hard copy of their A-level results and celebrate with friends.
If you’re not entirely sure what you’ll need to do on the day or what comes next, read on to discover all the information you need to make your A-level results day run as smoothly as possible.
How to get your A-level results
Your A-level results will be available first thing on Thursday morning at your place of study. You’ll probably be asked to provide your student card as proof of identity in order to pick the results up. Arranging to meet with friends on the day is a good way to ensure you’ll have support and someone to talk to/hug, regardless of your results.
UCAS Track will also be available from 8am on A-level results day, allowing you to see whether your firm and insurance university choices have accepted you as a student. UCAS Track does not provide you with your results, however, and is perhaps the least exciting way of finding out how you’ve done. For details of your actual module results, you’ll need to collect the paperwork from your college or school or wait until they arrive in the post the following week.
What to bring with you
If your A-level grades are not what you had planned for, then you’re probably going to have a moment of panic. But this doesn’t have to be more than just a moment if you’re fully prepared for this alternative scenario. In this case you’ll need to swiftly begin making alternative arrangements through UCAS Clearing or otherwise. For this, you’ll need to have these things with you:
A pen and paper
A mobile phone (fully charged)
Details of your conditional offers (to make sure you’ve remembered your offers correctly)
Phone numbers of the admissions departments for both your top-choice (firm) and your second-choice (insurance) universities
Phone number for UCAS Clearing (just in case)
Your UCAS login details
A copy of university Clearing listings – either from a newspaper or printed from an online source (make sure you use an up-to-date, reliable source such as UCAS)
If you do get the A-level grades you want
First of all – congratulations! All that time spent worrying about exam results will have been in vain and now you can get on and prepare for your future.
If you’ve gotten your results and are happy with them, you do not need to do anything other than squeal and jump up and down. Don’t be tempted to phone the university as they will be busy answering calls from those who didn’t get the A-level grades they needed. In the next few days you’ll receive a confirmation of your place at your firm choice university (via UCAS), which will also outline what you’ll need to do next, including information about student finance and preparing for enrolment.
In the meantime, you can spend the rest of A-level results day enjoying yourself, meeting up with college friends and talking to your tutors (it’s times like these that they’ll say the nicest things!).
Another scenario could be that you exceeded the conditions set by your firm choice, meaning that universities asking for higher A-level grades may now be an option. Depending on whether or not you want to explore these options, you can use the UCAS Adjustment service, which allows you to look into alternative universities and programs available to you. If you are unsure of whether to pursue this, there should be advisors at your school or college available to talk you through your options and what to do next. Either go to your careers office or ask a tutor for advice.
If you don’t get the A-level grades you want
If you don’t get the A-level grades you wanted or expected, you needn’t panic. It may be that your results fall short of all your conditional offers from your chosen universities, or perhaps you are just not happy about the remaining offers you have left. Either way, there are plenty of options available to you that will ensure you’ll still be heading to university in September as planned. Here’s what you can do:
1. Call your top choice university
Your primary port of call will be to the university you had most wanted to attend, and for which you had obtained a conditional offer. Even if your results are lower than your conditional offer, there is a chance that they will offer you a place anyway. Talk to the admissions department, explain your situation and, despite not reaching their offer, state your case as to why they should give you a place regardless.
Make sure you’re calm and collected before picking up the phone and treat the call as you would a job interview. This is why preparation matters – you need to be ready to sell yourself, your knowledge and your dedication and interest in the program. Also, keep the crying to a minimum – admissions officers will certainly appreciate this!
2. Go through university Clearing
If the previous piece of advice falls flat, you still have the option of going through university Clearing. This is a good option for those students who are willing to attend a different university or a different program to the one they initially chose. UCAS Clearing is the main organization to deal with university clearing and if you applied through UCAS then they’ll already have all your details, ready to pair you up with similar programs that match your A-level grades. Another place to look for university Clearing listings is in newspapers such as The Telegraph.
UCAS Clearing is available from July to September each year, but contacting Clearing on A-level results day will give you a much better chance of finding a good course at a good university. If you wait too long, you risk not finding a suitable match.
Once you’ve gotten the details of relevant courses with places available, you’ll need to contact the admissions department of each university. During this call they will probably ask you a few questions about why you wish to study their program and about your outside interests. Remember to be as polite, charming and knowledgeable as you can possibly be.
3. Consider A-level retakes
If you didn’t get the A-level results you anticipated and are underwhelmed by the prospects presented to you through university Clearing or otherwise, you can always consider retaking your exams. This will often mean retaking certain exams later on in the summer or retaking an entire year of classes. This will mean postponing your higher education plans for at least a year. This is not always a bad thing, however, as this period will give you time to consider further options, to save up money, and possibly to gain relevant work experience that will help your studies and career prospects later on.
4. Study abroad
If your A-level results don’t qualify you for any of your chosen UK universities, you may still have the option to study abroad. Many excellent universities outside of the UK will offer courses that match your interests, and will be keen to recruit students internationally. Studying abroad can be a great experience and will help you not to develop not only academically, but personally as well. International study will give you the opportunity to experience a new culture, gain new international friendships and connections and perhaps even learn a new language.
Depending on the country you’re interested in, a number of universities will offer some form of university Clearing for their courses, or you can decide to apply for a later admission in the second term. Deciding on studying abroad at this late stage is not something to be taken lightly, however.  If you are hoping to make the start of term in September, you’ll have to be extremely organized, assertive and in the know. Application deadlines, scholarships, student visas, living arrangements and funding are all things you’ll need to consider. For more information about studying abroad, check out our dedicated site section and our individual country guides.
5. Consider other options
If university education still looks out of your grasp after exhausting all of the above advice, you might like to consider taking a different route. This could mean heading into the job market, enrolling in vocational training or an apprenticeship, or even taking a gap year for time in which to travel or save money through work. As always, speak to a tutor or advisor for advice on where to go from here.
Still have questions about A-level results day or Clearing? Leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help!

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