Where can I find advice about A-level Results Day?

December 9, 2020
Students

A-level results day is chaotic at the best of times, but when your results weren't what you expected it’s easy to feel totally lost. With emotions running high, it can be tricky to know where to start when it comes to working out what to do next.

While there are plenty of good sources out there, finding the ones that can really answer your questions is far from easy.

Some sources are ideal for getting you ready for your results and ensuring you have a plan of action, while others are very much geared towards students on A-level results day.

Preparation is key, but things can also change very quickly on A-level results day and you’ll need to keep an eye on more updated sources too.

Equally, some sources will advise you on practical issues (even the best of us can find UCAS Track confusing) while others are centred around helping you make the big decisions as to what you do next.

So whatever help you need, here’s your complete guide to finding A-level Results Day advice.

Your School/College

teacher advising two students

Come results day, your school/college is literally on the front line. They’ve been with you through every step of your A-level journey so far and are rooting for your success. They are the first to receive your results and will be there when you open that all-important envelope.

What’s more, whatever surprises your A-level results day has in store, your school has been there and done it before. Schools go through the same process every year and are experts in guiding students through the next steps.

Most schools will call in extra staff to help manage students reactions and questions on A-level results day. Hopefully, your school will be able to provide careers advisors as well as the head of sixth form, your subject teachers and your personal tutor, giving you plenty of sources of advice including some of the people who know you best.

Your school staff will have an unrivalled insight into your strengths and weaknesses, so can offer great advice and counsel when it comes to trying to understand why your results were not what you expected. Their insight means they are some of the best people to advise as to whether remarking or retaking your A-level exams are good options for you, and can also help facilitate them.

Tutor House

Pre-U vs A-Level

At Tutor House our educational experts have years of experience guiding students through the highs, lows and options arising from A-level Results Day. Having coached many students through the process and with an in-depth knowledge of what options are available to them, the Tutor House team are well aware of the pros and cons of every possibility. Equally, our team appreciate the highly emotional and potentially distressing nature of A-level Results Day and are able to empathise with each student's unique situation.

Some students decide that, rather than going through clearing or choosing an alternative path, the best option for them is to retake their A-levels. For students who come to this conclusion, the Tutor House advisors can talk you through various retake options, including 6 month and one year retake courses, as well as which routes match best with a student's goals and can make retaking A-levels a positive experience. You can reach out to us here.

If you're looking for advice in print, the Tutor House A-level Results Day Blog has everything from an overview of all your possible options to in-depth explanations of the pros, cons and how to’s of each one.

UCAS

student applying for UCAS Adjustment

Your first step in starting the journey to further education was setting up your UCAS application, and UCAS remains a valuable resource leading up to A-level results day and beyond.

The UCAS website lists university course vacancies from the beginning of July. This list will constantly be updated and be available to students on A-level Results day and the days following, so if you’re considering clearing this is the place to go to find out your options.

UCAS Track should update with your Universities response to your results from 8am in the morning. It’s a good idea to login and check it before you leave to collect your grades so that you have some idea of what to expect and can prepare properly.

There is also a UCAS helpline set up to help students sort out any technical queries about Clearing or Adjustment. The staff won’t advise you with regards to the actual decision, but if you have any issues using Track or need help figuring out how to apply for a clearing spot, they should be your go-to. The number for the UCAS helpline is: 0371 468 0468

Universities

university

When it comes down to it, Universities are the ultimate decision makers when it comes to accepting students onto their courses. So, when it comes to seeking advice on what your post results options are it makes sense to go straight to them.

Universities have years of experience dealing with every kind of A-level results day dilemma, and while they will always try to attract the best students to their courses, they are also geared up to help students as much as they can.

Your First or Second Choice University

Call your first (or second) choice University if you missed your required grades on a conditional offer, especially if you were only a few marks off. You may be able to convince the University that you are still worthy of a place on your course. The University will always hear you out, but try to ensure you have a good argument as to why you should still be accepted and include any extenuating circumstances.

Even if they don’t offer you a place on the course you wanted, your University may have some alternative options such as placing you on a slightly different course. You can talk to the University about the possibility of deferring for a year, although you should have a very good reason for doing so, and scope out their policy on retakes.

Never give up on your dream University without talking to them first. They could have all kinds of solutions and will certainly be able to advise you as to whether you could get on the course next year with a successful A-level retake.

Clearing Universities

If your first choice University is a no go and you’re considering going through clearing, talking to any potential Universities is vital. Before you accept an offer through Clearing, make sure you call up the University and inquire about the details of the course, students life, accommodation, the city and anything else you can think of.

Remember, Clearing Universities will be trying to sell you their course, so take everything with a pinch of salt, but they are also experts on exactly what they can offer you.

University Helplines

Generally, when you call a University, for information or to argue your case you will call the admissions office. However, for A-level Results day most Universities also set up Helplines, usually run by trained and willing students, to answer questions from students inquiring about clearing places.

While the helpline staff will be looking to promote their institution (remember that pinch of salt) they can also provide a real perspective on the University, and potentially even the course, you are interested in. They can also offer useful pointers and insights you won’t get anywhere else.

Friends & Family

mother advising son

Sometimes you just need a hug from your mum, and whatever your results, this is definitely one of those times.

When it comes to getting advice from your friends and family, there is a delicate balance to be struck. Yes they are fantastic, have your best interests at heart and know you very well; but they aren’t you and can’t make this decision for you - even if they want to.

When you are feeling vulnerable and uncertain it is easy to hand over responsibility to those around you or cave to the expectations of your family and friends. Remember, this is your life and your decision. Don’t end up accepting a clearing course or going into employment because that’s what your friends are doing or what your parents want. Make sure it’s what you really want and it fits into your long term goals.

However, these are also the people closest to you, who know you best and want what is best for you. Family and friends can be a fantastic resource when it comes to figuring out what you want to do next and offering emotional support when things don’t go as planned.

Lean on your family and friends for comfort, and a reminder that the world hasn’t ended and people still love you. Talk though options with those closest to you and work out what will make you happy in the long run.

While your family and friends aren’t experts in further education and certainly can’t make the decision for you, they are great for sounding out your different options and giving you a confidence boost when you need it.

Newspapers

student reading newspaper for A-level results

Are we really going this old-school? Believe it or not, newspapers can be a fantastic source of information and advice on A-level results day. Try to flick through all the tat and focus on lists of clearing places and guides on which courses would make good substitutes, like Biochemistry instead of medicine.

However you feel about it normally, on A-level results day The Telegraph is the paper to get. The Telegraph is UCAS’s official partner for clearing and even has a live Clearing place finder tool, available both on their website and app, that will let you search for available places that meet your needs.

You’ll still want to call the Universities you are interested and the admin side still needs to be done through UCAS. However, when there are hundreds of people frantically clicking away at the UCAS website, searching with the Telegraph can save you valuable time.

Helplines

student calling helping

We’ve already mentioned the UCAS Helpline for technical help using Track, Clearing and Adjustment as well as the University Helplines offering a students perspective on potential alternative courses. There’s one more helpline that should be on your list for A-level results day advice, the Exam Results Helpline (ERH).

The ERH is a collaboration between UCAS, the BBC and the Department of Education. The helpline is free to call and offers informed, neutral and non-judgemental advice for students, whatever their grades and circumstances.

The helpline staff are experts on all the options and tough choices that can arise on A-level results day, so are able to advise students on Clearing, Adjustment, retakes, remarking and all other alternatives they may be considering.

The staff are highly knowledgeable and empathetic, so can take into account each student’s unique situation and offer unbiased advice as to what options are available to them, and which ones may prove most beneficial.

The number for the EHR is 0808 100 8000 and will open on the 15th August, A-level Results day, for England and Wales. For Scottish students an equivalent helpline can be reached on 0808 100 8000 and will open on 6th August, the results day for Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exams.

Elise Pearce

As our Head of Content, Elise’s role involves everything from email campaigns to web content; if you spot a typo, you know who to blame. A lover of all things creative, she studied History of Art at St. Andrews enjoys running and painting in her spare time. At home, when she's not busy chasing after her two Labradoodles, Flossy and Rupert, you'll catch her doing handstands on her yoga mat.

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