A Level Results Day: Editor's Blog Live

Live updates to guide you through results day and Ucas Clearing

August 18 2016
Exam results

Last updated at 17.30 on 18 August 2016

A Level Results are out. Whether you’ve already worked up the nerves to log into Ucas Track and checked the status of your university place, or are on your way to collect the all-important envelope, the moment of truth is well and truly upon us.

Whatever your results are, rest assured that you are in good company, and you’re never out of options. I'll be keeping you updated throughout the day, scroll down for older posts.

17.20: I'm about to sign off for the day. Keep checking my twitter feed @THEUniAdvice for updates, but for now, here's our whole collection of news, analysis and resources:

- Record number of students win university places

'Bulging middle' of universities benefit as A-level results dip

- Best universities in the UK 2016

- How to survive A Level results day (hopefully you've survived so far)

- How to  deal with stress over exam results

- Clearing 2016: What you should say on the phone to universities

- Clearing 2016: Top universities with courses available (soon out of date)

- Video: 10 common exam results day questions answered

So all that's left for me to say is congratulations on all your hard work and results, whatever they are, and good luck for the future.

17.00: Not that you should let clever marketing affect your decision (too much), but there really are some very nice Clearing videos from UK universities this year. Eric Stoller has been collecting them on twitter, but here's two of the best:

University of Salford:

Loughborough University:


16.30: I haven't said much about international students today, but many are also receiving results and university places or offers today.

As I mentioned in the live chat (see update at 12.50), the number of EU (non-UK) students placed at a UK university by results day has risen 10.8 per cent, quelling fears that Brexit would put them off this year. 

But the number of overseas (non-EU) students placed at a UK university this year is pretty much stable from last year, though it usually rises around 5 per cent each year. I won't speculate as to the reasons. Also unusually, many more overseas students were placed directly through Clearing this year compared to previous years (160 in 2015 and 260 in 2016).

Finally, there's a nice story in The Express Tribune about a self-taught student who secured a place at Cambridge University after achieving A*s in English language and English literature and an A in Mathematics for her A Levels.

Pakistani student at Cambridge story
The Express Tribune


16.05: Here's an insight into what students are saying on popular chat room The Student Room:

  • Its_brubz “When I checked UCAS Track and they said I got accepted into Cardiff I was laughing and tearing up! I'm extremely happy!!”
  • Whizbox “Over the moon, really didn't expect to even meet my offer let alone get my predicted grades! Can't wait for October!”
  • Emeraldmay26 “Right now hiding in my room and binge watching TV shows hoping today will be over soon.”
  • Distant traces “Did better and worse than expected in terms of grades so don't particularly feel anything.”
  • Alextaylor6 “Missed my grades. I feel like crap honestly.”
  • Elizabeth121 “I didn’t do well at all! I'm extremely disappointed and confused at what options I have left.”

 And FYI: St George's Clearing team are back in the building after their fire drill (see previous update).

15.30: An update on St George's, University of London, who are offering Clearing/Adjustment places for medicine:


Since that was first tweeted 3 hours ago, I'm sure the number has increased significantly by now. They're encouraging people to keep trying to get through on the phones. The problem is, they've just had to evacuate for a fire alarm:


While you wait to get through, you could always have some fun on twitter. Earlier today, a student who was on hold waiting to speak to someone tweeted this to the university:

And the university replied explaining 'We're doing our best':

15.10: It's only 10 minutes past the time that Clearing offers are officially made and accepted, and I've already noticed a significant decrease in vacancies in the Ucas search tool since I wrote this article:

- Top UK universities with courses in Clearing 2016

For example, when Clearing opened, King's College London had vacancies on 89 courses (for English students, this varies for students elsewhere and particularly international students). Now they're only advertising 28 courses on the tool.

The number of courses available at the University of Manchester has dropped from 278 to 270, and only half the 96 courses originally available at the University of Bristol are still listed.

People do always say that Clearing and Adjustment places fill up extremely quickly, but I don't know yet whether this is happening any quicker than in previous years.

14.30: IMPORTANT UPDATE: Nandos are giving away free chicken to all A Level students. Kind of. The Terms and Conditions specify that you have to spend a minimum of £7 to claim the freebie, as reported by The Evening Standard.

14.00: One hour to go until you can officially add a Clearing or Adjustment offer in Ucas Track. Here are more resources and an anecdote:

- Best UK universities

- Top universities offering clearing places

- What to say on the phone to universities in Clearing

- How to survive A Level Results Day

- Dealing with stress and decision-making on results day

And now for a (true) story:

One of our writers for the student blog is Saira Khan, a master's student studying Pharmacy at King's College London. I met her at a conference for outstanding students from all over the world. Saira told me she originally applied for medicine at King's and actually made the grades, but decided to study Pharmacy instead. She phoned up King's even though they weren't advertising any vacancies for Pharmacy through Clearing, but even after that conversation she wasn't sure they would offer her a place. After panicking and accepting a place at the University of Hertfordshire instead, Saira was offered a place at King's for Pharmacy a day later. Even though typically Clearing offers are firm straight away, Saira managed to change her status in Ucas Track (after a lot of emailing, she says) to accept the place at King's rather than Hertfordshire. Years later and she's already won an award for a project on tablet-making, and has just completed her master's degree.

Even though you might think the rules around Clearing and Adjustment are set in stone, there are plenty of stories of students somehow getting around the system. I'm not particularly encouraging you to put your hope in this, but it's certainly worth being proactive and insistent if you know what you want and what you're capable of.

13.30: If you're one of those students feeling sad or 'meh' (see previous update), here's some results day inspiration/annoying humblebrags from famous people:

First up, Jeremy Clarkson over the years:


And Richard Branson has some sage wisdom to share too:

13.10: Enough time has passed since students collected results to measure their happiness levels across the country. Our friends over at The Student Room have done the hard work and put together this map:

Student happiness heat map

It looks like most students are feeling good, but Welsh students aren't so sure, even though there was a 3 per cent increase in Welsh students placed in a university on results day compared to last year - the same level as the national average.

Interestingly, male students are marginally happier this year with their results than female students. 

Jack Wallington, community director at The Student Room commented: 

"Male students are generally more optimistic about their results than females - the findings were reversed in 2015. It’s also interesting to see that year-on-year, most regions are expressing very similar emotions about the day, despite being an all new year group.”

12.50: You can catch me discussing key trends about A Level results, EU students and Clearing with TES journalists in our short facebook live video below:

12.20: I'm about to join a live facebook chat with my colleagues from TES, our sister mag. You should be able to watch it here shortly.

12.00: Midday is as good a time as any for a very brief round-up of Results Day humour.

Lots of people today are tweeting the trope 'I received these grades in my A levels but don't worry, now I've ended up doing this.'

So inevitably, there are some parodies:




And finally (for now) there's this gem from two years ago, proving that the photos of happy students aren't always what they seem:


From Todd's twitter profile, it seems he ended up studying Geology at Kingston University, and is still riding out his twitter fame.

11.50: In the run up to results day, I saw some doctor friends of mine expressing surprise that there were universities offering places for medical degrees through Clearing, since medicine is generally extremely competitive.

What's not surprising is that St George's, University of London, which is offering medicine vacancies for the first time this year, is receiving a huge amount of interest. This is just in from the university:

St George’s, University of London is receiving a very high volume of calls and interest for all courses this year.

The calls follow the announcement that St George’s was retaining places on its Medicine (MBBS 5 year) undergraduate course through Clearing for the first time.

The University has received 1,825 calls relating to the Medicine undergraduate course, and 1,478 additional calls for its other undergraduate courses in Clearing including Biomedical Science, Paramedic Science and Healthcare Science. Advisors have also engaged in  263 Live Chat conversations online with applicants.

Eoin Lally, Head of Student Recruitment, said: “We’ve had the same number of calls by 1030 am today that we had over two to three days in 2015. We’re getting high quality students phoning and we’re filling up our interview schedule for the coming days.”

11.30: One thing the Director of Admissions did not mention in his 'what to say on the phone to universities' article (see 11.00 update) is that you might even end up talking to the Vice Chancellor of a university. We've already seen evidence that the VC of the University of Hertfordshire is taking some calls:

11.00: The Director of Admissions at the University of Law has helpfully sent over his advice for handling phonecalls to universities if you're trying to find a place in Clearing. 

Some of the most important tips are:

  • Make sure you have researched each university before you call them
  • Be positive and enthusiastic on the phone regardless of who you are speaking with
  • Be ready to speak honestly about why you got the grades you did, and about how you intend to ensure that your future studies do not go the same way.

His full article is here:

Clearing 2016: What you should say on the phone to universities

10.30: If you're curious about where you stand compared to other applicants, my colleagues over at our sister magazine TES have summarised Ucas data into key headlines for this year. Here are just three of the trends (click image for link to more headlines):


10.00: Results have been available for collection in person for half an hour now, which means any students eligible for Clearing or Adjustment have already begun seeking out available courses. Officially, you can only add a Clearing choice in Ucas Track from 3pm, but you can already search for vacancies and contact universities to secure an offer.

This video answers common questions about results and clearing:

And you can find current vacancies at top universities here, although be warned that this is only accurate until 3pm, when vacancies will start to fill up.

09.00: To start things off, here’s a quote from a journalist on twitter that I think sums it up:

Which goes to say that you shouldn’t think your results determine or limit your future opportunities.

As of midnight last night, 424,000 students were accepted to a UK university, the highest number recorded on a results day.

But even if you missed your place or received disappointing grades, there are plenty of opportunities through Clearing – an increasingly popular route into a university course.

Clearing has been open for a few weeks already, and I’ve collated all the top universities with availability.

Clearing 2016: Top universities with course vacancies

If you achieved better grades than expected, congratulations are in order. And not just from me: a spokesperson for the Russell Group of Universities – which includes the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol and the University of Manchester, among other prestigious institutions – said yesterday:

“For those students who may have done better than expected, or for highly-qualified students who may have narrowly missed out on their first choice, some Russell Group universities may have places available. We encourage those students to get in touch with Ucas to see whether there may be places available to them.”

In addition to Clearing, Ucas offers an Adjustment service, which offers a route into a university with higher entry requirements if places are still available.

For many students, results day brings with it an important life decision, whether through Clearing, Adjustment or even the prospect of reapplying or choosing not to go to university indefinitely.

Dr Trudi Edginton, now a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Westminster, applied through Clearing herself, and offers tips on how to manage stress when you receive unexpected news and have big choices ahead of you.

How to deal with stress over exam results

Ucas offer impartial advice on their Exam results helpline, which opened at 8am this morning.

Ucas Exam Results Helpline

I’ll be updating this blog throughout the day with important advice and developments. Here’s a final guide with some helpful practical tips, just in case:

How to survive results day

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