A-level results day: What to do if you don't get the grades - 5 tips

Date published: 07 August 2019

After two-years' hard work, the day A-level students have been waiting for since finishing their exams is just around the corner.

By mid-morning on 15 August students will know their results, and whether they have those all-important grades needed for their planned next steps.

Many universities offer places based on a student’s predicted grades, and these predictions are often not accurate. But, it’s worth knowing that those young people who don’t get their predicted grades can still get into university, if they want to.

In 2018, more than 60,000 students found university places through Clearing – a system which helps universities match students who don’t have a university place to courses which still have spaces.

Dr Lisette Johnston ex-BBC World News Editor and Head of School at ScreenSpace, part of London’s MetFilm School said: “It’s the most important day of the year for tens of thousands of teenagers.

“If you find yourself going through Clearing you are part of what can feel like a brutal, antiquated system that is engaged in universities bidding for the students who get the highest grades. It doesn’t mean these students are the most talented, enthusiastic or passionate… they just have the top marks. It’s important that you don’t let the system get you down - keep positive and don’t let it put you off.”


Boy worried about exam results (posed by model)


So, if you didn’t get the grades you were predicted and you’re not sure what to do next here’s Dr Lisette Johnston top 5 tips.

  1. Ready, steady… research
    It’s worth spending some time considering and researching a Plan B before you get your results. Have a look for similar courses to your chosen one, which might have lower entry requirements. For example, if you’ve applied to do Media Studies why not look at courses with Media, such as Content, Media and Film production, or for some courses check the requirements comparing a BA with a BSc - this works with courses such as Economics. If your heart is set on a particular university look at their clearing pages now and register with them to save time on the 15th - if you do have to call them during Clearing.
  2. Stay calm
    It’s the moment you’ve been working towards and the computer screen or that piece of paper is telling you your dreams are shattered. Remember this is just a blip, a bump in the road! Take some deep breaths, collect your thoughts, and remember there is ALWAYS a different path to take.
  3. Talk
    There’s lots of help out there. Your initial reaction may be to shut yourself away, Don’t! Speak to your friends and parents, and don’t forget there are experienced staff at your school or college who can help you. They will want to do their best for you and most universities have a well-oiled Clearing process.
  4. Be brave
    Pick up the phone and call the universities you are interested in. Ask lots of questions and don’t just take the first opportunity that comes along. Make sure it’s the right one for you. Write down the questions you want to ask before you call, and if it’s a university you haven’t visited you may want to find out about facilities, accommodation and student support. This is your opportunity to discover what is best for you, don’t hang up the phone until all your questions are answered.
  5. Keep an open mind
    If you don’t know what to do next then you can always give yourself some time to consider all your options. You could defer going to university until next year, it’s only 12 months and it will give you time to decide what you really want to do. You may decide you want to earn some money and get a job, or re-sit your exams, or perhaps consider a different degree or apprenticeship.

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing news@rochdaleonline.co.uk
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email news@rochdaleonline.co.uk or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online