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How to survive A-level results day

Hannah Morrish, education community manager at The Student Room, shares her advice for students preparing for A-level results day

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Hannah Morrish

August 6 2021
How to survive A-level results day


In a few weeks, thousands of students will receive their A-level results. If you’re one of them, you’re probably going to be feeling a bit nervous right now. You may be feeling confident about your results, which is great, but you can take away some of the stress by researching all your options. If you’re prepared, you can make sure that you make the best decisions, no matter what happens on the day.

Start the day right

It might sound like a cliché, but the best way to start your day is with a decent breakfast – you can’t celebrate or make clear decisions about your future on an empty stomach. Everyone will be feeling the tension, so if you’re collecting your results from school or college expect screaming, shouting, whooping and mass hugs. A good brekkie will prepare you for all of it!

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Understanding Ucas Track

You can check whether you’ve got in to your preferred university on Ucas Track. If you make your university offer, congratulations: you can start your celebrations! You don’t need to do anything else but wait for the university to be in touch with information on starting university.

Done better than you expected? Well done! If you’ve exceeded your offer, you can look at Adjustment to “trade up” to a university course with higher entry requirements. Research the university you might want to adjust to and give them a call to talk about it. However, confirm your new university in Ucas Track only if you’re 100 per cent sure, because once you do your original firm offer is automatically cancelled.

Hannah Morrish answers 10 key questions about A-level results day

Tackling clearing

Don’t panic if you miss your offer. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and that’s what Ucas clearing is for. Approach results day with an open mind, and if you end up in clearing, be prepared to consider universities that you might not have thought about previously.

If you’re feeling anxious about the possibility of going through clearing, don’t be. It is an increasingly popular route to university. Clearing is a completely legitimate way to get on to a great course at top universities, and you shouldn’t feel like a failure for using the system. 

Do your research

In the hype and excitement of results day, one thing a lot of students forget is that universities want you as much as you want them. Ending up in clearing is not the end of the world. Do your research and talk through all your options with friends, family and teachers. The people who know you best will be able to support you and help you to make the right decision.

If you have a feeling that there’s even a slight chance you might end up in Ucas clearing, it pays off to do some research before results day. Courses with vacancies will be on the Ucas website from July, so go through the current vacancies and make a list of universities, course codes and their phone numbers ready for results day, just in case things don’t go to plan.

On the day, jot down a few points about your passion for your chosen course or subject and why you particularly like the course you’re applying to via clearing. Ask lots of questions when you phone the universities. You want to know about the course, student life, accommodation and what happens next if they give you an offer.

Got a clearing offer – what next?

Once you get a verbal offer from a university that you’re happy with, you can put your clearing choice into Ucas Track. This option is available from 3pm on results day. It’s better to get a place confirmed sooner rather than later as popular course places do fill up fast.

Remember that university isn’t the only option. There are lots of other great alternatives out there, such as taking a gap year, getting a job, undertaking apprenticeships or doing an internship. Take all the time you need to consider all your options. You might find that the non-university route is the one you prefer or that you just need to take a year out for a breather. Whichever way your results day goes – good luck!

The exam results helpline will be open from 8am on 10 August: 0808 100 8000.

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