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  • Guide to A-Level results day

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What to do on results day

Clearing gives you a chance to find another uni place if you miss your grades on A-level results day

A-level results are released on Thursday 14 August 2014

Once the big day rolls around, there are a few things you need to do...

1) Check your status on Track - has your firm choice already confirmed your place? This is usually available from about 8am on Results Day morning but is usually busy/slow - be patient. (NB. a Confirmed place may not necessarily mean you achieved the exact terms of your offer but that they have accepted you anyway). More info on the TSR guide to using Track on Results Day here.

2) Have some breakfast. Whatever the situation is, you can't make important decisions and/or celebrate on an empty stomach.

3) If you need to go to school/college to get confirmation of your results you need to take a few things with you .....

  • Mobile phone (charged and topped up)
  • Pen/pencil
  • Notepad/writing paper
  • Calculator (in case something goes wrong and your modules aren't adding up)
  • UCAS/uni letter with the exact wording of conditional offers for both your firm and insurance ('Was it ABB or AAB?')
  • Contact details for your firm and insurance universities - telephone and email addresses for the main admissions office.
  • Parents (optional).
  • Tissues - this may be the point you say goodbye to fellow students, and your teachers.

The dates of other results days are as follows:

Once you've opened your results, there are a few things that could happen. Try not to panic, no matter what happens to you.

NB. Whenever you phone a university or UCAS it is important to use your pen and paper to take notes. Ask for and write down:

  • the date/time called,
  • the number you dialled,
  • the full name of the person you speak to, as well as what they say.

This is all important detail to have if you have to phone back and query something they said. It is also a good idea to have a list of points/questions written down before you call to make sure nothing gets forgotten.

You've made your firm offer!

Congratulations! Get excited! Go and tell your friends. (But hold off if they're not too happy with their results!) Phone your Auntie Mabel. Tell everyone!

But do not phone your first choice University unless they've asked you to, in which case you will have been told this in advance. Leave the lines free for those who have not met their offers and are trying to find out if a university will still confirm their offer.

It does sometimes happen that your UCAS Track doesn't get updated in time for results day morning, so don't be too concerned if your Track is still showing 'conditional firm'. It should update later in the day, but if it still hasn't by Friday morning, phone the university to find out what the issue is.

When Track updates to show your place is confirmed, UCAS will put your AS12 letter in the post and will send you a copy by email. Read it carefully and follow the instructions. Some universities don't need you to do anything else to confirm your place, but others do. The letter explains exactly what you are required to do. Either way, keep the letter safe, as you'll need it as proof for bank accounts and things like that. Start a folder for all the information you receive from the university.

You can also check What to do before you Go to Uni and What to take to University.

The Adjustment period

If you have exceeded the requirements for your Firm offer, you can consider looking for a place at a different university asking for higher entry grades. This not the same as Clearing - that is for people who have failed to get the grades for their Firm/Insurance offers and have no University place at all.

Exceeding your offer means that you must meet and exceed the conditions that are stated in your firm choice offer. So, if your firm offer is ABB and you get AAB then you are eligible for Adjustment, but you are not eligible if you get ABC or ABBB. You can find out more about Adjustment in our articles: Getting ready for Adjustment How to change uni through Adjustment

Remember you do not have to give up your firm offer in order to explore what else might be available to you in Adjustment. Nor do you have to accept any alternatives you are offered. Remember - just because a University is asking for higher grades does not mean it is a better course, or that you will be any happier at that University. Think very carefully before you abandon/reject a place at a University you have been dreaming about for the last 6 months.

If you do want to consider the Adjustment route, you need to first register through Track. Anyone who exceeds their conditional firm offer will have the option to register for Adjustment through Track, but it is down to the universities you approach to decide whether or not you are eligible or they want to accept you.

You will have up to five days from Results Day, or the date on which your conditional firm (CF) became unconditional firm (UF) (ie your conditional offer became unconditional), whichever is later, in which to negotiate an alternative offer. This time includes weekends, and in any case cannot be extended beyond 31 August. So, if your CF doesn't become UF until 29 August, you have only two days to look for another place and have this confirmed by the uni. While you are looking for a place through Adjustment, your original firm choice place will be held for you.

UCAS will not publish listings of courses available through Adjustment, so you will need to call individual universities and look at their own websites to see if they are offering Adjustment places.

When you speak to the uni, explain clearly that you are looking for places through Adjustment, not Clearing. If a university offers you a place through Adjustment and you accept it (this is usually done over the phone), they will update your status on Track with the new uni and course code, and your original firm offer will be automatically cancelled and cannot be retrieved. Therefore, make sure you've thought it through and decided this is what you want to do before accepting an Adjustment offer! UCAS will also send you another AS12 letter in the post to confirm the place.

If you don't receive any offers through Adjustment, or you registered for Adjustment accidentally, then after the five days have elapsed you will automatically be confirmed at your original firm choice.

If you have registered for Adjustment, your current firm uni will be aware of this and may contact you to enquire what your plans are. If you have registered by mistake (people do...) it is worth letting your firm uni know this.

You've missed your firm offer

  • Don't give up completely as there's still a chance they might accept you. First of all check UCAS Track. If Track says your place is 'unconditional' then you're fine. Relax, celebrate and leave the phone lines clear - do NOT phone your university 'just to check'. However, if Track shows that you've been unsuccessful, that is it. Game over. Unis will not allow you to plead your case if they have already firmly rejected you so do not waste everyone's time by phoning the uni 'just in case'. It's utterly pointless.


Are you going into Clearing?

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Tell us the course you're interested in and we'll get unis to email you direct!


  • With places now so competitive, it's really only worth asking a uni to reconsider if you have new information to provide - eg you just missed out on your grades by a few UMS marks or intend to appeal any grades. If you do phone the uni because of either of these two reasons, remember to keep calm, and however stressed you feel, don't be rude or aggressive - the person who answers the phone isn't responsible for your low grades, and is more likely to want to help you if you are polite. Remember, the more competitive the uni is, the less likely it is that they will be interested in being 'lenient'.
  • Extenuating circumstances: if anything serious prevented you performing at your best in your exams (such as the death of a close relative), your school should have told the exam boards about this at the time. There is therefore very little point in pleading this once the results are announced. However 'unfair' it may seem, if you have still missed your grades by a wide mark, most universities will not be interested in hearing any further 'excuses'. If you do decide to try talking to a university to plead your case, then you will need to have your teachers on hand to verify your circumstances for you; and it will have to be a serious life-changing issue involved, not just 'I had an argument with my girlfriend'.
  • UMS marks and remarks: Universities only receive module and overall grades, not UMS marks. So if you are only a couple of marks away from fulfilling your offer, then it may be worth letting the university know to see if they will reconsider. However, remember that they don't have to.
  • If your school is submitting some of your exams for a priority re-mark, it is essential to get in touch with your universities to let them know. See the note about re-marks below for more information.
  • If by mid-morning on results day, Track still shows your offer as conditional then you'll need to phone the university because it suggests they are yet to make a final decision on your application. The hotline phone number may be listed on the uni's website, or might have been sent to you in advance; if you haven't got a special number then just phone the uni's normal number, and make it clear you are an existing offer holder, not a Clearing applicant.
  • Sometimes unis can take a long time to make a final decision - sometimes over a week after results day. If it reaches this point and you are still waiting then phone and ask when they expect to decide. Keep calm, remain polite - the person answering the phone may have no control over this process. [The universities are not supposed to keep people in limbo for too long, so if you think they are being unreasonable and causing you to miss out on places elsewhere via Clearing then contact UCAS for advice.]

If your firm offer still accepts you with your missed grades

If Track shows your place as unconditional despite missed grades, you have a place.

Congratulations! That's it. You'll just need to go home and await your AS12 email and letter in a few days. Do NOT phone the uni just to check they really meant it. If its on Track as confirmed, you have a place.

You missed your firm offer, and they won't accept you with lower grades

You now have several options and your school/college will be able to talk you through what these are (eg relevant to your circumstances etc), and these include accepting your insurance place, retaking A-levels etc and reapplying for next year. See the entries about insurance offers below.

You didn't get your firm offer, but you meet your insurance offer

Nice work! You can still go to uni! If this shows as unconditional, you don't need to do anything further now. Again, this may take a while to update on Track. If this is still showing as conditional by lunchtime on results day, you should phone that university to find out what the hold up is. Remember, stay calm and be polite.

If you are now going to your insurance choice, you will need to change your student loan details using the Change of Circumstances (CO1) form which can be done online, but this can wait a few days so just go home and wait for your confirmation letter. You will also need to sort out accommodation at your new university.

If you miss your insurance offer

Check UCAS Track to see if you've been accepted with lower grades. If your insurance still says your offer is conditional then they haven't decided yet - phone them up like you did your firm choice. They may still accept you with the lower grades. If they accept you, then that's great! If they don't, then you'll be entered for Clearing, but remember, you don't have to go to another University if you don't want to.

Realising that neither your firm or insurance University will now accept you can be very hard, especially if it seems that everyone else around you is jumping up and down and shrieking 'I'm going to uni!' - and you now possibly won't be. Your school has seen students in exactly this position before, you aren't alone and it doesn't mean that 'my entire life is over'. Go and talk to your teachers at school/college, they know your circumstances best and are there to help you with advice about what to do next. Don't panic - remember, lots of very able people either don't go to Uni straight from school or don't go at all.

Your options now are to enter Clearing and see if your grades are acceptable to another University, to retake your A Levels and reapply for next year's entry to Uni, or to forget about Uni for the moment and either get a job, go to college to do a non-degree course, or do an traineeship/apprenticeship. Useful websites : Not Going To Uni, YouthDirect and Apprenticeship vacancies

You missed your firm or insurance offer but the uni has accepted you for a different course

This will show up on Track as UCC - i.e. 'unconditional changed course' - with the new course code.

You have five days to decide whether to accept this alternative. You don't have to. Read the course description carefully and be certain that it is still a course that you want to do. You will receive a letter from UCAS (the AS12C) which sets out your options, though you can accept or decline this offer on Track even if you haven't yet received the AS12C. If you decline the changed course offer, you will either go to your Insurance (if applicable and they have accepted you) or into Clearing.

If you are happy with the changed course offer, you do have to accept it on Track and must do so within five days. Whatever you do, don't just ignore it!

If both your firm and insurance choices make you a UCC offer, you can then choose between them, or decline both and go into Clearing.

I think I might want to defer for a year

If you don't already hold a deferred offer, once you have had your place confirmed you can contact the uni directly and ask if they can defer you. Have some reasons handy (e.g. what are you going to do in your gap year?) and it should be OK. It's best to do this as soon as you know you want to defer, but theoretically you can do it right up until the start date.

Your university may not agree to this, although most will. If the university won't agree, then you have the option of withdrawing from UCAS for this year and reapplying.

I don't want to go to university after all

You may now decide that you need some time to think about 'going to uni'. What seemed like a great idea last October is now feeling a bit less certain. Or you have no confirmed place and you've decided that Clearing is not an option. Or maybe, you are unhappy with what you have ended up with and you now want to have a gap year and do some resits/apply again next year.

Remember - Whatever the reason, you don't have to go to uni if you don't want to.

I'm already holding an offer for this year

You'll need to contact the uni and tell them that you don't want to go. You should also update your application in Track so that UCAS knows that you aren't going to uni this year. Remember if you do this you won't be able to use Clearing and so will not end up at university anywhere this year.

I've got a deferred place for next year

Again, you must tell the university concerned if you no longer want this place. Either fill in the AS12 slip to say that you won't be taking up your place, or contact UCAS by phone. Remember, you cannot reapply through UCAS while holding a deferred place. If you want to apply for next year, you must drop this place and make a completely fresh application.

I don't currently hold an offer

If you missed your firm and insurance offers and they're not accepting you, then this will apply. You'll automatically be entered into Clearing, should you wish to do that. But if you don't want to go into Clearing, then you don't have to do anything. Just don't apply anywhere through Clearing and you won't be going.

Finally ...

  • If you want to officially withdraw from the UCAS scheme, you can do so. Simply use the withdraw button on UCAS Track, but be certain it is what you really do want to do.
  • Talk to your family and/or your teachers before making any big decisions - they have your best interests at heart, and sometimes just talking your thoughts and feelings through with someone can make things clearer.
  • Think about possibly getting a place through Clearing and deferring (if the Uni is okay with this idea) to give yourself time to think.
  • Think about reapplying to more realistic or just different Universities for next year.
  • Look at alternatives : Not Going To Uni and Apprenticeship vacancies

Offers with GCSE conditions

If your offer was reliant on you getting a certain grade in a GCSE retake (typically for English or maths), then the university will wait until that result is known before confirming your place. This is usually one week after A-level results are published. You cannot do anything to speed this process along. Phoning the university will not make any difference, you will simply have to wait for the GCSE results before you know for certain that you are going to uni. If your A-level results do not fulfil the terms of your offer, the university can reject you before waiting for any GCSE results.

You cannot enter Clearing until your firm and insurance universities have confirmed or rejected your conditional offer(s). This can be frustrating since if you do miss out on your GCSE grades and the universities do reject you as a result, you may have missed any possible Clearing places. However, please resist the temptation to phone either the universities yet to make that all important decision, or any potential Clearing university - all you will do is clog up phone lines and annoy admissions staff.

Note about re-marks

For a full breakdown on 'Marks, grades and how to interpret them' - read this

If you think your results look a bit odd you may wish to send some units back for re-marking. There is a charge for this, although sometimes your school will pay. If your overall grade does change then the fees get refunded. However, remember your grades can go down as well as up! Always discuss whether to ask for a re-mark with the relevant teacher first, as they may think that you did deserve the results you got. Do you really need a remark - or can you accept you did badly in that subject and you are now going to your insurance? Think carefully.

If you've missed your offer and do decide to get a remark, you will need to tell the uni that you are having a re-mark when you phone them, and you will need to apply for a priority re-mark. If you only choose a standard re-mark, then it will take too long, as you need to meet the conditions of your offer (even if it is for a deferred place) by 31 August. It is essential that you let your uni know immediately if you are requesting a priority re-mark (some have a form on their website for you to do this, so check). Be prepared for the possibility that they will say that even if the result comes back in your favour before 31 August they won't accept you. It is worth arguing the point as good practice among universities is to honour the 'by 31 August' deadline. Some universities may still accept you (or offer deferred entry) if your re-mark results come back later than 31 August, providing you told them in advance. When you phone them, ask if they are willing to hold your place for you while you wait for the re-mark. If possible, get them to confirm their deadline date in writing to you.

If you wish to have re-marks of some of your units but have still been accepted at your university of choice then ask for a standard re-mark, not a priority re-mark. Leave this system free for those who really need it!

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