What to do if Your Child Fails Their A-Levels - Everything You Need to Know


If there’s one day every year that is guaranteed to pierce right through the serenity of summer, it’s A-Level Results Day.

A-Level Results Day brings with it a multitude of emotions, from joy and excitement to terror and downright misery, it can be a challenging day for both students and their parents.

For those lucky students who are successful in obtaining their predicted grades and have managed to secure their University place, it is a day for celebration. And, as a parent, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your child is guaranteed admission onto their dream course.

However, each year thousands of students miss out on the grades that they needed to get them into the University of their choice, and for them and their parents, A-Level Results Day is a far less jubilant affair.

Whilst disappointing, a poor set of A-Level results is not the end of the world, and it is important that you, as parents, remain positive and supportive during this potentially challenging time.

Remember, this isn't the end of the world. With a little direction and support your child could still make it to their dream Uni, albeit a little later, and whatever happens their future is still bright. There's a good chance your cheerleading and advice is going to be in great demand, so you probably want to get REALLY clued up on how to handle the disappointing A-level results day fallout.

Here are several things that parents can do to help their child to deal with a poor set of grades, get them back on track and boost their chances of a successful future.

Prepare for bad news

This may sound pessimistic - but preparing for bad news will help you and your child to come to terms with a bad set of A-Level results more quickly.

It is a good idea to talk with your child before they receive their results, make them aware of their other options and encourage them to consider other courses or Universities that may interest them. Not only does this give them a head start once they receive their results, but it also gives them the feeling of a safety blanket that will help them stay in a better headspace throughout the process.

It is also important that you make it very clear to your child that your approval and love does not rest on their A-Level results and that you will be there to help them through the next stages if they are unsuccessful.

Should you go with them to collect their results?

Whilst, of course, you will be desperate to find out how your child did in their A-Levels, it is vital that ask them if they would prefer you to be there or not when they open their results.

Some children would rather have their parents there with them, whereas some would rather be with their friends or alone.

Whatever their preference, make sure not to smother them, as this can lead to them feeling even more stressed and under pressure. It’s important to navigate the line between being supportive and overbearing on results day.

Moreover, finishing A-Levels also marks the end of a student’s time in school/college, so it is an important and tangible step into adulthood. Allowing your child to collect their results alone shows that you understand this, and also gives them an indication as to how you will respond if they fail.

However, by no means should you abandon them - it’s a good idea to remain on standby so that you can offer them support should they need it.

It’s also important that you make sure your child heads to get their results fully prepared. Ensure they take their UCAS number, mobile phone, the contact number of their University and a pen and paper with them when they go to collect their results, so that they are fully prepared to deal with every possible outcome.

Don’t panic

The last thing you should do in this situation is panic. It is likely that your child will be upset about their marks and the last thing they need is to see their parents panicking too.

Instead, stay calm, be a voice of reason in the situation - and make it clear to your child that there is no need to worry. There are plenty of options out there for students who didn’t get the grades they were hoping for in their A-Levels. From going through clearing to enrolling in a retake course (link) and giving it another go, there are a number of different paths you can follow in order to combat a disappointing results day.

However, whilst it is important to remain positive, you should also ensure that you are striking the right balance between being supportive, and acknowledging the reality of the situation.

Don't Panic!

Make sure your child contacts the University they had hoped to attend

Universities have lots of spaces that need filling, so often, if students aren’t accepted into their first choice University then they will be able to obtain a place at a different Uni or on a different course through Clearing.

The first thing that you should do if your child didn’t get the A-Level results they were expecting is to get them to contact the University that they were hoping to attend. Sometimes, the University will have space on the course and your child may get lucky and be granted admission anyway.

It is super important that you ensure your child calls the University and that you don’t do it on their behalf. The Admissions office will likely be far more impressed if a student has taken the initiative and conjured the courage to call the University themselves. This not only demonstrates maturity, but also allows the University to let the student know directly if there are any alternative courses with spaces available etc. If you make the call then this immediately becomes more tricky.

Alternatively, your child has the option of going through clearing. Again, it is important that they take the lead in terms of researching other courses and getting in touch with the Universities that they are interested in.  

If your child does decide that they want to go through Clearing, then both you and them will need to be flexible. Whilst not always the case, they may have to accept a place on a less popular course than they had originally hoped for. However, there are still around 300,00 places available through Clearing, so there is a high chance your child will get on a course that suits them and that they will thoroughly enjoy.  

It is easy to rush into agreeing to a new course; and the time pressure can cause clouded judgement on the part of students. Parents can help their children to take a breath and think about things more clearly, reminding them of all their options whilst also letting them come to their own decision.

You can also help your child to research any Universities and courses offered through clearing, talking through the options with them. Make sure to take into consideration whether it is what they really want and whether it will help them to achieve their dream.

Avoid social media for a few days

Social media can be a particularly toxic place following A-Level results day - even for students who did well. Someone will always have done better than your child, and will  have likely posted a 500 word essay about their results and how excited they are for University.

If your child was unsuccessful in achieving their predicted grades, seeing posts like these will only dishearten them further. They will undoubtedly compare themselves with other students, which will cause a sad spiral and have bad implications for their mental health.

It is best to encourage your child to steer clear of social platforms for a good few days after results day. Instead, suggest that they hang out with their friends and spend some time doing things that they really enjoy.

This will help them to gain back some perspective and put them back in a positive headspace so that they can make a rational decision when it comes to what to do next.

Help your child research A-Level retake courses

The best thing you can do for your child if they fail their A-Levels is to help them research alternative courses. Whether a student didn’t quite work hard enough the first time round, or had a bad day so didn’t perform as well as they expected to - there are a whole range of reasons why retaking their A-Levels is the best option.

A-level courses come in all shapes and sizes, from intensive 6-month courses to more in-depth one or two year courses. Students could go on a gap year or do 6 months of work before retaking, or start from scratch and direct their efforts towards a new university course and future.

There are so many options and almost endless possibilities for students looking to turn a negative results day into a positive experience. Knowledge is power in these situations, so parents can be invaluable to their child by helping them research different course options and how they could craft a positive retake experience.

Tutor House offer a range of A-Level retake courses designed to cater to every student - no matter what their needs may be. From six month or one-year intensive courses to a comprehensive two-year course that facilitates starting from scratch - Tutor House are sure to have the perfect A-Level retake course for your child.

Retaking A-Levels with our A-Level Retake Courses Tutor House | Find Your Perfect Tutor

We have three different options for students who wish to retake their A-Levels. Our specialist courses are taught by expert teachers and class sizes never exceed 6 students. This means that each individual student gets the personalised attention and support that they need to guarantee success in their A-Level retakes.

🎓 6 month A-level retake courses - This course is designed for students who only just missed out on their predicted grades. Running from January to June, this course gives students a few months between receiving their original grades and having to re-enter back into education. This provides a chance to have a break, go travelling or even get a part-time job before getting back to the grind.

🎓 1 year intensive A-level retake courses - This course is ideal for students who missed their grades by quite a few marks or boundaries. It is also designed for students who want to take up a new subject or subjects and shift their academic goals entirely. However, as this is an intensive course, students will be expected to work hard in order to achieve the grades that they deserve.

🎓 2 year A-level courses - This option is for students who want a total overhaul rather than just a top up. This is especially popular amongst students who chose the wrong subjects to study at A-Level - and this happens all the time. If your child was studying Maths, Biology and Chemistry, for example, and they’ve realised that their strengths actually lie in the Humanities and the Arts, then a 2 year A-Level retake course could be the perfect option for them.

The Tutor House Campus also boasts an excellent location, situated in the centre of London in the buzzing district of Soho. This gives students the unique chance to be in the heart of a vibrant and young community and get a pseudo Uni experience in preparation for the real thing. They will meet students of different backgrounds and make new friends while also being able to enjoy the exciting array of extracurricular and personal development activities often offer.

Find your A Level Retake Course

We have top quality tutors that specialise in A Level retakes. Browse through them to find your child's perfect A-Level tutor.

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Alex Dyer

Alex is the founder and director of Tutor House and has a degree in Psychology. He has worked in the educational industry for 14 years; teaching Psychology for 8 years at a school in London. He now runs Tutor House, after setting it up in 2012. Alex still tutors every week, he writes for the Huffington Post and has appeared on the BBC and ITV to discuss educational topics. Alex is an educational consultant and UCAS expert, he’s worked with hundreds of students over the years. He’s obsessed with squash, but is distinctly average.

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