With A level Results day almost upon us (Tuesday 10th August 2021), here is a helpful guide to ensure you are appropriately prepared. This is an exceptional year, with the cancellation of examinations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is therefore very important that students are aware of what options are available to them.
Before Results Day:
Results day can be chaotic and the better prepared you are the less stressful you will find it. In particular:
- Make sure you have your UCAS track login and personal information ready.
- Confirm how you will receive your results from your school (e.g. by phone, email, in person).
- Find out what support will be available on results day at your school or at home.
- Familiarise yourself with how your Teacher Assessed Grades (or TAGs) were determined. This document explains this process: JCQ's Guidance for students, parents and guardians: GCSEs and AS/A Levels in England.
- Understand how the appeals process works: JCQ's A guide to appeals processes Summer 2021 series. If you are concerned about your grades and think you might need to appeal, we would encourage you to speak to your school.
- If you are concerned about your grades and think you might need Clearing, you should do some preliminary research in to alternative universities/courses you might apply to. It can be helpful to phone universities before the 10th August to see whether they have availability on the courses you are interested in.
PLEASE NOTE: If you do ring universities we would advise reminding yourself of what you wrote in your personal statement as universities may wish to ask you about this as means to ascertain your suitability for the course you are calling about.
On the Day:
Collect your grades: Although your grades are also sent directly to UCAS and should be live on Track by 08:00 (UK time), you will not be able to see the exact marks you achieved. Thus, we would always recommend collecting your grades from your school (via email, over the phone or in person) first so that you can fully understand them.
Check your grades against your offers: UCAS typically receives your results directly at 08:00 (UK time). Your online UCAS Track account will outline conditions of your university offers – if for some reason you cannot access this information you should have written confirmation of your offer from each university. Check your final grades against these carefully before rushing to any conclusions. You will have …
1. Met your firm offer. You have achieved the grades you needed to be accepted at your chosen university – well done! The UCAS system is automated and will reflect this, but it may take some time to update.
- You will receive a confirmation letter in the post from you firm university choice, which you will also be able to view on track.
2. Exceeded the required grades of your firm offer! If you still want to accept your firm choice, this is simply a lovely surprise- well done! However, UCAS have a service called Adjustment which offers students the chance to reconsider where they study at university.
- Adjustment is available from results day (10th August 2021).
- Register for Adjustment by logging in to your UCAS Track account.
- If you try Adjustment you do not lose your original offer.
3. NOT met your firm university choice’s offer. Firstly, it is important to note, even if you have not achieved the conditions of your offer, some universities or colleges may provide you with an alternative offer – a 'changed course offer' (which you'll need to accept or decline).
Track will also indicate whether you have met your insurance offer. If so, again, well done!
- You will receive a confirmation letter in the post from your insurance university choice, which you will also be able to view on track.
4. NOT achieved your predicted grades and do not have any offers.
- Talk to your teacher: In most cases, members of the school staff will be on hand, either face-to-face or by phone, to discuss the next steps with students. School staff are likely to have dealt with all manner of situations before and as such are usually best placed to provide you with the ‘next steps’.
- Phone your intended university: It can be worth ringing a university when you have not met the conditions of your offer if you have just missed out on a grade by a couple of UMS marks. It is also worth noting that UK universities may be more flexible this year considering the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Enter Clearing: You will be eligible for Clearing if you have not been accepted by your firm or insurance choice and it will show on your UCAS track homepage. Rather helpfully UCAS launched Clearing Plus in 2020 and this means you will automatically be served with possible courses based on your UCAS application. It is important that you speak to the universities before you apply through Clearing to make sure that you have asked whether they will accept you.
Consider alternative options: If you cannot find a suitable course through clearing or are simply unhappy with your results you may wish to:
- Sit your A Levels in the Autumn 2021: In light of the cancellation of the Summer 2021 exam series The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) stated that there will be a full series of GCE AS and A-level examinations in Autumn 2021. Examinations will start in October.
- Convey your intention of want to sit your A Levels in the Autumn Series ASAP, as the deadline is likely to be in early September.
- Begin to revise as October is only 8 weeks away! We have a number of excellent, experienced A Level tutors who can help with A Level preparation. For more details, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via email@example.com.
- Take a Gap Year: If you cannot find a suitable course through clearing or do not want to rush into deciding you may want to consider taking a year out. You might be in a stronger position to apply for university on a gap year as you already have confirmation of your grades and universities will give you unconditional offers which you can accept and arrange accommodation etc. well in advance of the course starting. Or if had your heart set on a course/university but you missed the grade requirements you could use year out to re-take your exams and re-apply. Do bear in mind that you may not receive the same offers again as they will be assessing your application against a new cohort of students.
Universities will be interested in why you have chosen to take a gap year so you will need to add a sentence or two justifying your choice in your personal statement and be ready to answer questions at interview. Some of the perceived benefits are:
- You can gain work relevant experience which will help your university application and may set you apart from other candidates in the job market after you graduate.
- You could earn money and learn to manage it independently before moving away to university.
- You have the chance to travel and experience other cultures and learn to cope with being away from home.
You need to consider whether taking a year out will suit you and what you have to gain. You may feel frustrated if all your friends have started at university and your year out is not constructive.
You might find our our blog on Gap Years helpful - Gap Year Advice
Seek External Advice: If you are still bemused and befuddled after discussing your results and options with your school you might like to seek independent advice. Keystone’s Consultancy Team have a wealth of experience in offering educational advice, so do give us a call if needs be. We are very happy to help!