There is no denying that A-level results day is pretty overwhelming – packed with emotions ranging from nervous to excited, disappointed and confused. We're exhausted just thinking about it, tbh.
This year, the pressure is even higher for some, given the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students. Years of hard work, revision timetables and sleepless nights culminate in a few letters on paper, paired with the disruption caused by the on-again-off-again lockdowns in the last two years.
After exams were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, 2022 saw the return of exams – although they were a little different. But with the return of exams, comes the return of results day, and whilst we hope that everyone has got their desired results, and corresponding place at university, for those that haven't, here's what to do...
Firstly, don't panic. It’s normal to feel a bit sad and worry – especially given that quite often it seems like there is only one option – but actually, there’s still plenty.
Before frantically calling every university admissions officer you can find on Google, have a chat with people you trust and love. Talk to your parents, teachers and friends about how you feel and discuss what you could do next. If you’re still set on heading to university but didn’t get the marks your conditional offer asked for, there are a number of steps you can take.
What to do if you don't get the A-level results you wanted
Give the uni you applied to a call
With everything that's happened over the last two years, it's possible that universities will be more lenient when it comes to their entry requirements. What that essentially means is they still might accept you, so it's worth giving them a call to discuss your options.
If it doesn’t go to plan with your first choice uni, do the same and get in touch with your insurance choice to talk through the options.
Go through Clearing
Clearing is a system operated by UCAS which lets you know all the unis and colleges across the country which still have places on their courses. It’s essentially re-applying to a uni course but way easier because you’ve already done your personal statement and have got your results. If you're unsure, UCAS has a bunch of how-to videos on their website to guide you through it.
And there's plenty to be positive about if you end up going down this route, as figures show that in 2020, a total of 73,320 students managed to secure their university places through UCAS Clearing.
The service is open from July until September, but obviously the number of places will reduce as time goes on and more people get places.
Consider resits and appeals
It can be really tough if you missed out on going to uni because of a bad exam or piece of coursework. If you want to give it all another go, you normally have the option to, you just need to talk to your school/college and your teachers about this.
It has also been known for exam boards and teachers to make mistakes – they are only human after all, as difficult as that might be to accept. If you notice something that doesn’t quite sit right with your results (like if you were predicted an A but came out with a U) then take note of your instinct and talk to your parents and teachers.
Through your school or college, you can request a review of marking or moderation and then once you’ve seen what’s gone on then you can appeal. It’s best to do this asap to get the best chance of getting a uni place.
While, of course, this does not guarantee the uni will accept you, keep them in the know as they will hold your place while waiting for the outcome of the review. Once you have them, try and send your results to the uni as soon as possible – there’s more info here.
Check if you qualify for Adjustment
If you are particularly lucky and actually want to change your uni option because you got higher grades than expected there’s a process called Adjustment.
That means if you got your first choice and now have an unconditional offer from your first choice uni, you can swap it. For example, if you were accepted to your uni on the premise of getting BBB but you actually got ABB you might now be eligible for other universities and courses which you preferred.
To do this, contact the admissions office at the university you want to go to and tell them you’re now applying through Adjustment. For starters, confirm you are just getting information at this stage and you haven’t made any absolute decisions.
If they come back with an offer, then you can choose to accept it.
Think about whether you still want to go to uni
If you had your heart set on uni or, on the other hand, were always slightly apprehensive about it and now, having received your results, you don’t quite know what to do, that’s okay.
If you didn’t get the results you wanted and now your whole plan of going to university is thrown in the air, that’s fine. Rather than dwelling on what hasn't worked out, think about all the opportunities that this could open for you. After all, they do say as one door closes, another opens. Look at it this way – life doesn't end at 18. Take the rest of the summer to chill, look for a job and start earning that moolah or take a gap year and 'discover' yourself!
UCAS has even said that if you’re not sure, sometimes it’s best to wait until next year. And don't be afraid to speak with a careers advisor if you need more guidance on what to do. They are experienced and there to help you.
For more information or support, head to the UCAS website or give UCAS' results day helpline a call on 0345 123 8001.
You Might Also Like