Retake your A Levels online in your free time!
Exam results day arrives and you’re eagerly awaiting the results that will determine your immediate future.
Two years’ worth of hard work culminates in this one moment, but what if when you open that envelope, the results are not what you were hoping for?
If you feel like you studied hard and tried your best then this will feel as crushing as crashing out of the World Cup on penalties. Or if you slacked off a bit thinking that you could coast through, then it will serve as a valuable life lesson!
Either way, it’s important to remember it’s not the end of the world. Yes, your A Level results do have a big impact on what you can do in the future, but whether you just missed out on the grades you wanted or completely failed, there are still plenty of options open to you.
Now is not the time to wallow in a spiral of self-pity and baked goods - here’s what you can do instead.
Check UCAS Track
The first thing you should do is sign into UCAS Track. If you were very close to achieving the required grades you might be lucky enough to still have been accepted by at least one of your choices.
Even if you didn’t meet the conditions of your original offer, some universities might offer you a place on a different course that they feel is more suited to you.
If the university rejects your application because of your grades, then it's likely that you'll just have to accept this. While there are some dubious reports of admissions officers being swayed by a letter or phonecall, it's very unlikely, and moving on to Clearing will give you a much better chance of finding a place.
Have you logged in to find that your status hasn’t been updated? You might still be in with a chance of bagging a place at one of your choices. You can try giving the university admissions department a call to find out the outcome and possibly plead your case. This is your chance to tell them why you'd make a great student, so try to present yourself in the best possible light.
Apply for your papers to be remarked
If you genuinely believe that there’s been a mistake made by your marker, you can request that your paper be remarked. You’ll need to speak to your teacher or tutor to organise this for you and you will have to pay a fee which will only be refunded if your grade changes.
If you're counting on your grade increasing to secure your place at university, you should try to get the process started as soon as possible and keep the university updated as they're more likely to hold a place for you if you keep them in the loop.
Whilst it’s wise to get your request in ASAP, you should take a bit of time to consider if this is really the right move for you as remarking can also result in your grade coming down instead of up.
Our advice would be to only go down this route if you really think there’s a mistake, otherwise you run the risk of ending up in a worse position than you started in!
Find a course through Clearing
Clearing allows you to apply for university places that haven’t been filled in the first round of applications. You might end up having to go to a different uni or to study a completely different course than you had planned, but if you’re certain that university is the right path for you then this is your best chance of getting in.
You can use the UCAS search tool to find courses you want to apply for and then contact the university directly to have a chat with them about the course and see if they're willing to give you a place.
If the university gives you an informal offer over the phone be sure to check how long they're willing to keep the spot open for you. This is usually about 2 days, but it’s best to get this confirmed so you don’t miss out.
Get as many verbal offers as you want before making up your mind, just be wary of those expiry dates!
Once you make up your mind, fill in the course details in the ‘Add Clearing choice’ in Track. The university will have provided you with the codes you’ll need to put in here.
You can only add one clearing choice at a time, but if the uni doesn’t end up confirming your place you will be able to start again. If the uni comes back to confirm then congratulations, you're officially in!
Resit your A Levels
You might decide that you’d rather take another crack at getting the results you wanted. You can do this in a couple of different ways.
- Resit the course at school, sixth form or college.
If you want to retake the course in the exact same way, you can enrol to resit at your school. If your school doesn’t offer this option, then they should be able to advise you of local sixth forms or colleges that can accommodate you.
- Resit the course online.
You might decide that you want to work or do some volunteering whilst you study. If that’s the case, you can enrol on an online course which will give you a lot more flexibility as you’re not confined to a classroom and set timetable.
This means you can study anywhere you choose, whether that’s in bed in your PJs or out in the garden on a sunny day. As long as you have a WiFi connection, the possibilities are endless.
Whatever option you choose, you’ll still sit the exam in person at a school or college and hopefully get the results you’re after.
Take a gap year
There are many reasons why a gap year might be the best option for you and most of these have nothing to do with jetting off overseas to ‘follow your bliss’.
You might have just missed out on your dream course or couldn’t find anything that appealed to you in Clearing. If that's the case, a gap year can be a great way to get some work experience (paid or voluntary) that will enhance your UCAS application when you reapply and show universities that you’re committed and hardworking.
If you feel the pull of travel overseas, it doesn’t have to be all backpacking and full moon parties. You can apply for volunteer schemes or if you spend some time completing a TEFL course you can make some cash teaching English abroad. Just be aware that due to visa restrictions there are some countries that need you to have a university degree to be able to teach there.
Get a professional or vocational qualification
Some university degrees like medicine have a defined career path after graduation, but with some degrees your career journey will be a bit more flexible.
With these kinds of courses, it can often be difficult to show employers evidence of skills rather than just knowledge, making it harder to get all important work experience. Professional and vocational qualifications offer a more straightforward path into certain professions.
You might feel like not going to university will hinder your career, but in some industries, there is a higher value placed on professional qualifications than degrees. For instance, if you want to work in HR, most employers request a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification, not an HR degree.
A professional qualification might even help you enter a university at a higher level. For example, Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications will allow you to enter a fast-track programme to become a Chartered Accountant.
Plus, some non-academic qualifications are equal in difficulty and prestige to a Masters’ degree, so you can still become a leader in your field without going to university.
The Qualifications and Credit Framework can help you compare academic and non-academic qualifications.
Become an Apprentice
Apprenticeships are a great way to enter the world of work and get valuable training at the same time. You’ll get to study for a qualification and get real on the job experience at the same time. Plus, you’ll be getting paid so it really is a great opportunity to kick off your career.
So many big companies already take on apprentices and now that the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy is in effect, we expect more opportunities to become available.
And they're not just for entry-level roles - there are apprenticeships for managers, department heads, and even Directors and CEOs.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that some of the most successful people in the world didn’t let failure hold them back, so why should you?