What To Do on A-Levels Results Day?
Article written and editted by Yadavi Madani
Results day is filled with many emotions for everyone, with the wait for results being one of the most nail-biting periods that any student will have to face! While hopefully your results day will be a mixture of relief and joy, some may experience disappointment or stress upon receiving their results, unsure of their next steps. While we can’t change your results for you, we can give you detailed guidance on what to do on results day, and the best way to go forward!
What happens on results day?
A-Levels students will be able to access their results from 8am BST on Tuesday 18th August. At the same time, UCAS (the UK’s university application platform) will update your status to show whether you have received or been denied an offer at your universities. You would have made one university your Firm choice, whereby if you meet the requirements of that university it is expected that you go there, and your Insurance choice, whereby if you miss your Firm choice BUT meet the requirements of your Insurance, it is expected that you attend that university. Remember, the UCAS website may crash given the sheer number of students trying to log on all at once, so if you can’t get in, just stay calm, and come back a bit later.
I’ve got my results, now what?
Hopefully you’d have met the requirements of at least your Firm or Insurance choice, and know where you’ll be going to study in September. But sadly, this is not the case for all students. To help students in this situation, we’ve thought of nine possible scenarios that you could be in on results day, so sit back and let us take you through the steps you would take in each one.
#1 - You have achieved the scores needed to meet the conditions of your Firm choice
Congratulations! This is one of the best scenarios to be in on results day. Your Firm university will automatically become the one that you attend in September, and they may contact you to start the matriculation process. You don’t directly need to contact the university to confirm your results, as UCAS does this for you. UCAS should update your offer status from Conditional Firm to Unconditional Firm, although if they haven’t after a couple of days, it may be worth contacting the university and notifying your school. But overall, this is the scenario where you have the least to do!
#2 - You have not achieved the scores required to meet the conditions of your Firm, but you have met the conditions of your Insurance offer
While missing your Firm can be a disappointing feeling, don’t let it get you down too much, because you still have your Insurance university! Once your Firm university has processed your results, they will decline your offer, and UCAS will update your Conditional Insurance option to an Unconditional Insurance status, and this is where you will go in September. In this case, you will need to apply for accommodation right away, and UK nationals who have applied for a UK student loan will have to notify Student Finance England that you are attending your Insurance choice.
However, there is still hope for your Firm place, if you have narrowly missed the offer. In this case, the university may not have declined your place yet, but you must act fast. You should contact your Firm university (by phone is best) and explain why you missed your offer and how keen you are to attend the university. Have your UCAS number ready, as well as your university student ID number (if you’ve been given one). While the call may seem daunting, especially given the stressful situation, try to approach it unemotionally (take some time to process your results before making the call) and pragmatically, by giving clear reasons for why you missed the offer and why they should still take you. Remember, your parents or school CANNOT make the call for you. Hopefully, the university will still give you the place, but if not, then your Insurance option becomes the university that you attend in September. Even if you think you’ve missed your Firm offer by a lot, it is always worth calling them just in case.
#3 - You have missed the conditions of both your Firm and Insurance choices
“The universities may or may not take you, but it’s always worth a shot to call and check”
This scenario can go two ways, depending on your results. If you have narrowly missed the conditions of your Firm or Insurance choice, then like with scenario #2, you should call the universities to explain why you missed the offer but also why you are eager to study there. The universities may or may not take you, but it’s always worth a shot to call and check. If they do take you, then you will attend that university in September. However, if you have missed your offers by a wide margin, then it is unlikely that the universities will accept you. In this case, you would enter UCAS Clearing (read on for more information about this).
#4 - You have achieved the grades needed to meet your Firm choice, but have decided that you want to attend your Insurance choice instead
The first thing you should do in this case is speak with your school about the decision and why you think it is the right option for you. If after some thought you are still sure that you want to attend your Insurance choice, you must call your Firm choice and politely ask to be ‘released from your offer’. While they should do this without any argument, they may try to convince you to take the offer, however the UCAS guidelines for universities dictate that they must do what is in the best interest of the student. Once this is done, your Insurance option will become where you go in September, however some universities may insist that you go through Clearing, in which case you should first contact your Insurance university.
#5 - You have achieved the required grades for your Firm and Insurance choices, but have decided that you don’t want to attend either
You should proceed with caution in this scenario and talk to your school before making any decisions. If certain, you should find at least one UCAS Clearing choice and get in touch with the university. They may ask you to first decline your Firm and Insurance places before they talk to you about Clearing, but keep in mind that this is a university-specific rule, not a UCAS rule. You would then use UCAS Track to decline your place and proceed into Clearing.
#6 - You have missed or released yourself from your offers, and are now in UCAS ClearingUCAS Clearing, is a UCAS function that allows you to browse university places if for whatever reason you are not attending your Firm or Insurance offer. Universities that have places will be shown in Clearing, with the required grades for each course. You can apply for any Clearing university (not necessarily ones that you initially applied to) and any course, provided that you have taken the required subjects. Your personal statement may no longer be taken into consideration.
Look around for about three to four courses that you think will interest you, and give the universities a call to see if they will take you (remember to have your UCAS number and the course code ready at hand). The admissions team who answer your call may have a ‘mini-interview’ with you, where they may ask why you deserve a place on the course, and why it interests you. This is by no means a way to throw you off balance; just stay calm and explain why you want to attend that university. If they are convinced, they will give you a ‘soft offer’ confirmed via email, i.e. a non-binding offer to attend that university. You can receive multiple ‘soft offers’ before you finally choose one university to enter in UCAS Clearing (remember you may only confirm universities in Clearing from which you have received a ‘soft offer’). Once the university has accepted you, UCAS will update to make that the place you will go to in September! Search for Clearing options here.
#7 - You have significantly overachieved your predicted grades and wish to ‘shop around’ in UCAS Adjustment
This is another great scenario to be in! In this case, you can directly contact universities (even those whose courses are not mentioned in Clearing) and ask if they have any places. Keep in mind however that the top universities may not have places on Adjustment, but there’s no harm in asking. If you receive a ‘soft offer’ from a more competitive university, you should inform your school so they can check the offer. Then, you would register for Adjustment using UCAS Track. You will have five days to use Adjustment, and your Firm and Insurance universities will keep your place for you during this time. You can find more information about Adjustment here.
“Your Firm and Insurance universities will keep your place for you during this time”
#8 - You have missed your conditions and are working with your school to submit a Review of Results
As A-Levels were cancelled this year due to the pandemic, the Review of Results process won’t constitute a re-mark, as it did in previous years when students took exams. This year if you appeal your results, the exam board will review the evidence provided by your school to see if the grade awarded to you was fair. You must go through your school to appeal your results as only they can submit a Review of Results request. If you decide to appeal, you should let your Firm and Insurance universities know as soon as possible; they may hold your place while the appeal goes on, but if not then you automatically go into Clearing. The exam board review can either make your results go up (in which case you attend the university whose requirements you now meet) or down (in which case you enter Clearing). If your results stay the same, then you may be asked to pay a small fee for the review process. Ofqual, the UK’s exam regulatory board, has confirmed that students have until the 17th September to submit an appeal. If your results do not change in the way you hope, and you do not like any of the Clearing options available, you could choose to resit your exams, in which case some universities may offer you a start date in January.
#9 - You don’t want to attend university anymore
Whether you have met one, both or none of your offers, if you decide that you do not want to attend university anymore you should definitely contact your school first to discuss your options. If you would prefer to take a Gap Year, and have sufficient scope to do something productive, you could ask your university to defer your place for a year, which most should happily do. But, bear in mind that some of the more competitive degree programmes may not agree to hold your place. If you hold a deferred offer, it is against UCAS rules to make a new UCAS application at the same time. While the decision to not attend university right away (or at all) is completely up to you, make sure that you have thought it through carefully and have something productive planned to make the most out of your time. Watch Millie’s Guide on Gap Year for more inspiration!
“Always remember your school will always be there to help ”
While some of these scenarios are obviously better than others, always remember that you are not alone when it comes to making your choices about university, and your school will always be there to help. On the 18th of August when you open your results, give yourself at least a day to process them before making any big decisions about changing your options. Hopefully however, you’d have achieved the results needed for your dream university, and will be planning things like how you want to decorate your room in September. On that note, everyone here at Millie wishes you all the best of luck for results day - you’ve got this!