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A Guide to A-Level Results Day

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In the UK, A-level results day takes place in mid-August each year (August 17 in 2017). If all it takes is the sheer mention of that date to make you feel queasy, you’re not alone.

For many of you, this will be the day when you find out whether you’ll be going to your top-choice university. As well as heading to your school or college to collect your results, you can check your UCAS Track account from 8am on results day to see if your firm and insurance university choices have accepted you.

Read on to discover all the information you need to make your A-level results day run as smoothly as possible – no matter what happens.

If you do get the A-level grades you want

First of all – congratulations!

If you’ve received your results and are happy with them, you don’t 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 grades they needed. In the next few days you’ll receive a confirmation of your place at your first choice university (via UCAS), which will also outline what you’ll need to do next, including information about student finance and preparing for enrollment.

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. In this case, you may want to use the , 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.

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

Even if your results are lower than your conditional offer, there is a chance your first-choice university will offer you a place anyway. Talk to the admissions department, explain your situation and, despite not reaching their requirements, 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

This is a good option for anyone willing to attend a different university or a different program to the one they initially chose.  is the main organization for this, and if you applied through UCAS they’ll already have all your details and be 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 .

UCAS Clearing is available from July to September each year, but ing them 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 the admissions department of each university. During this call, they’ll 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 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 to develop not only academically, but personally as well, allowing you to experience a new culture, gain new international friendships and perhaps even learn a new language.

Depending on the country you’re interested in, a number of universities will offer some form of 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’re 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 complete guide on How to Apply to University Abroad and our individual country guides.

5. Consider other options

If university education still looks out of your grasp after exhausting all 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!

This article was originally published in August 2014. It was updated in August 2016 and again in August 2017.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for Kyohaku.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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2 Comments

The the sentence "Studying abroad can be a great experience and will help you not to develop not only academically, but personally as well.", the first "not" may be omitted in order that the full sentence is logically sound.

Oops! Thanks for pointing this out Philip, we've now fixed the sentence. :)

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