What to Do If You Failed Your A Levels | A Level Results Day 2019
This year's A Level results will be released on the 15th of August and you're no doubt eagerly counting down the days to find out what your immediate future holds.
All of your hard work comes down to this moment, but what if when you open that envelope, the results are not what you were hoping for?
Whether you’ve failed your A Levels or narrowly missed out on the grades you need for university, 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 there are still plenty of options open to you.
Now is not the time to wallow or put yourself down - 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 still have been accepted by at least one of your choices.
Even if you didn’t meet the conditions of your original offer, you might find that some universities 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 pleading letter or phone call, 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.
Apply for your papers to be remarked
If you genuinely believe that there’s been a mistake made by your marker, you can request a 'review of marking' of your paper. 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.
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!
If you go ahead and are 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.
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 hold off on university and 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.
You'll also have a personal tutor to help you if you need some extra help on tricky topics.
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.
When it comes time to sit your exam, you'll still sit it at a school or college on the same date as all other students. However, you'll need to book your place yourself at your local school or college - you should aim to do this about 6 months before the exam date.
Take a gap year
There are many reasons why a gap year might be the best option for you and it can be good to take some time out to figure out what you want to do next.
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.
Study for 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, the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications will allow you to enter a fast-track programme to become a Chartered Accountant.
You can even study them online like our student Faye who didn't want to give up her full-time job to go to university but was able to fit her AAT studies into her busy life.
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 full 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?