What happens if things don’t go to plan on A-Level Results Day

On A-Level Results Day, hopefully you’ll get the exam grades you need. But if things don’t go to plan, don’t panic. Here’s what your options might look like

Heading off to University

If you just miss out on the grades you need, your first option is to find out whether your university or college might be able to offer you a place anyway. Depending on how well your exams have gone, you might still get a place either at your firm or insurance choice. You could also be offered an alternative (a ‘changed course offer’) by the university or college – which you’ll need to accept or decline.

If this doesn’t happen, all is not lost. You’ll still have the chance to head off to University by going through the Clearing service to see what courses still have vacancies. And even if no decisions are showing at a possible University or college, you could always call them to find out more.

How does Clearing work?

Clearing is how Universities and colleges fill any remaining places on their courses. You can use clearing if you didn’t receive any offers (or ones you wanted to accept), didn’t meet the conditions of your offers, have paid the multiple choice application fee with UCAS, and declined your firm place in your application.

Clearing is available until 18th October, although it’s best to start early with exploring your option before places get filled up with other students. You’ll be matching to potential courses via UCAS, based on what you put in your application form and the criteria of different unis.

There will be a button in your application called ‘My Matches’ which takes you to your top 50 courses matches. You should then select the ones you’re interested in and, if there’s still places available, they may call you to discuss. And if you don’t like any of the matches provided, you can still find courses using the search tool.

What happens next?

Once you’ve found a course, you need to call the University or college and give them your clearing number and personal ID. Use this opportunity to speak to them about the course, the campus, accommodation options and whether they’d accept you. Try to get informal offers over the phone, then you can decide which one you’d want to accept. If you have time, it’s also a good idea to visit the university in person to make sure you’re making an informed choice. If not, there may be a virtual tour or a pre-recorded virtual open day you can visit online.

Once you have permission / an informal offer from the university or college, you can add your clearing choice into your application using the course details by the deadline date they gave you on the phone. This counts as you accepting the offer and the University or college will then confirm it so it appears as an acceptance in your application account.

You’ll then be able to start planning for University! Check out our top tips for how to get prepared as well as our essential advice for Settling in on your First Day at Uni.

What else could happen on A-Level Results day?

You may decide you’re not happy with your results and want to explore exam reviews or appeals, particularly if you only narrowly missed out on the grade you were expecting. Speak to your college or sixth form tutors or careers advisors about this. You’ll need to arrange the review as quickly as possible and keep in touch with your University or college so they know what’s happening and can try to hold your place.

You may also decide to consider other options – there’s plenty available to you! You might decide to take a gap year whilst you think about what comes next or apply for higher or degree apprenticeships instead of the university route.

The following resources might help you:

It’s okay to not be okay

If A-Level Results Day has left you feeling upset, anxious, stressed or worried – whether you got the grades you wanted or not – there is plenty of help available. Seek out support services who will be ready to assist you on the day with experienced advisors who understand your concerns. Whether you prefer to speak to someone in confidence by telephone, via email or online chat forum, take a look at the support services below to get the help you need.

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