Preparing for the big A-Level results day
Wednesday 15th August 2018 @ 18:23 by Nigel Skinner
News Schools

Feeling nervous for results day? Here is what you need to do!

Students across the UK will be receiving their A-level results tomorrow but whilst many will be delighted with their grades, it may be testing for those who do not meet their expectations.

According to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), half of the UK’s 18-24 year olds have felt pressured to go to university.

Chief Executive of the FMB Brian Berry said: “In the past, academic education was often favoured over vocational studies but this view was always questionable and is now out-dated.

“We are urging students to give other career paths such as vocational training and apprenticeships serious consideration,” he added.

Careers advisors at sixth form colleges have also been encouraging students to speak to them about the options available to them should there be any disappointment.

Students who are struggling to make their decision have many options including: a change of course, a change of university, or doing something completely different.

Students can also consider going into ‘Clearing’ to find the right course for them if results do not quite meet expectation – or even trading up if results are better.

Last year, a record number of students – nearly 67,000 – found university places through Clearing – a system which helps universities match students who don’t have a place to courses which still have space.

Dr Lisette Johnston, Head of School at ScreenSpace gives us her top tips for those who didn’t get the grades they were expecting.

She says: “For students who didn’t get the grades they needed to go to their chosen university, it’s important to remember that Clearing is not a ‘bottom of barrel’ scraping situation, but the consequence of a system that is focused on everyone ‘bidding’ for those who achieve the highest grades – not the most talented, not the most enthusiastic and not the most passionate… just the highest grades. So…

  1. Prepare – just in case.

You haven’t got your results yet, so spend a few hours researching a plan B. Consider your chosen course, are there similar courses that don’t have such high entry requirements? For example if you’ve applied to do maths why not look at courses with maths, such as Economics and Mathematics, or Financial Mathematics. If you’ve applied to do Media Studies look at Content, Media and Film production.  If you are completely ‘sold’ on a particular university, look at their clearing pages now and register with them to save time if you need to make the Clearing call on the 16th.

  1. Don’t Panic!

I know it’s difficult when you’re faced with a computer screen or a bit of paper that’s basically telling that you that your long held plans have changed. This is just a blip.  Take a few deep breaths, have a drink of water and collect your thoughts – there is ALWAYS a way forward.

  1. Get Advice

Speak with your friends and parents and remember there are experienced staff at you your 6th Form or college who can help you, they will want to do their best for you and most universities have a great clearing process – there’s a lot of help out there.

  1. Be Bold

Get on the phone, ask questions.  This can take a bit of courage, but you want to make sure that you’re not just grabbing the first opportunity that comes along, make sure its the right option for you.  Before you call a university have a list of questions at hand. If it’s a university you haven’t visited before you might want to ask about facilities, accommodation, student support, careers support etc…  Remember this is a two way process, you should be interested in what they can offer you beyond the degree.

  1. Consider The Options

If you’re really not sure about going to university this year, you could defer a year and go in 2019 instead. You could take the year to resit exams, get a job and earn some money, or look elsewhere completely; there are lots of alternatives, such as apprenticeships that can also be a route to a degree.

Second thoughts about your uni decision? – It’s OK to get cold feet…

It’s also absolutely normal to have second thoughts, says Sarfraz Ahmed, careers adviser at Leicester College.

Last month he saw a student who wanted to switch from a degree in aeronautical engineering to sports science. “I found him some free sports courses at the local football club over the summer so he could try it out,” he says. “He was delighted.”

More than a fifth of university students might have chosen differently if they had a second chance, a study by The Student Room showed – and previous studies put this number as high as a third. All universities will advise you to study a subject you love, and most students don’t know where this will lead them. But if you have cold feet about the future, you have a choice.

Careers advisers urge you to speak to them first if you’re having doubts, and there are many options: change course, change university, defer for a year – or do something completely different, says Ruth Sparkes, editor of teen magazine, Future Mag.

Deferring a course for a year could give you a little breathing space and universities usually allow this, though each institution operates its own admissions policy.

“It shouldn’t matter, as long as you can give them a valid reason,” says Mr Ahmed.

“Wanting more experience or time is understandable. You don’t need to go into the nitty gritty.”

A few courses such as medicine may not allow deferred entry.

“If the university declines this then you can give up your place and reapply next year,” says independent careers adviser Ray Tarouilly. “But only do this if you have a sound reason.”

Or you can ask to be released from your firm and insurance choices – and this allows you, if you want, to reapply somewhere else in the same university cycle, through Clearing.

You can always ring universities’ admissions departments before making this decision, to see what’s available – you might now have a better idea of what you are looking for. Once you’ve decided, you’ll need to tell Ucas too.

If you ‘ve decided to attend a course that you previously rejected (one of your offers) call the university to see if they still have places available.

More students than ever now apply directly to university through Clearing.

If you’ve done better than expected at A level, you can always choose to “trade up” universities, using Ucas’ Adjustment system, adds Ms Sparkes.

“Your firm place remains safe for a short window whilst you can look around for a course with higher grade requirements.”

Taking a year to consider, or just a gap year, is a wise move, says Mr Ahmed. Any short course or work experience won’t be wasted – he even advises ringing companies directly to ask for work experience if you’ve got a specific job in mind.

“If they’re big enough, try the HR department,” he says.

And you can also apply for an apprenticeship, even while holding a university offer – the application process is entirely separate.

Remember there are other ways of studying too, says Mr Ahmed. You can study flexibly online while you work, or through a degree apprenticeship “Or look for part time or voluntary work,” he says

“You really don’t need to rush to go to university – there are students there of all ages.”


Good luck to everyone awaiting those all important results – and we’ll be posting all the results from local schools and colleges here on our website tomorrow as they come in.