Guide to A-level results day 2020

Students with their A-level results

All you need to know about getting your results and uni offers

A-level results are released on Thursday, 13 August 2020 in England and Wales.

In Scotland, SQA results are released to students on Tuesday, 4 August 2020.

You can pick them up anytime from 8am, or whenever your school or college opens on the day.

Here's what to expect from the day and how The Student Room can help you.

More like this: here are your options on A-level results day 2020, whether you've missed your grades or made your uni offers

Check your status on Track

Let's not pretend you'll be doing anything other logging straight into Track first thing! 

Ucas Track will update from 8am on the morning of A-level results day. When you log in, you'll be able to find out whether your firm choice has already confirmed your place.

Bear in mind that thousands of other people are going to be trying to do exactly the same thing, so try not to stress if the website seems to be running slowly.

While Track will tell you whether your chosen uni has accepted you, it won't show your grades.

More like this: is it possible to predict what universities will do on results day? 

Have some breakfast

Don't skip this. You're either going to be celebrating today or making some important decisions on what you need to do next. Either way you don't want to be getting all wobbly because you're trying to do get through the day on an empty stomach. Results day is an emotional time, so make sure you're fully fueled up!

Get ready

Dates of results days in 2020

IB results day Monday, 6 July 2020
SQA results day Tuesday, 4 August 2020
A-level results day Thursday, 13 August 2020
GCSE results day Thursday, 20 August 2020


If you're going into school or college to get confirmation of your results you'll need to take a few things with you:

  • Mobile phone (fully charged)
  • Pen and paper
  • Calculator (in case something goes wrong and your modules aren't adding up)
  • Ucas/uni email with the exact wording of conditional offers for both your firm and insurance (e.g. 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 – you might shed a few tears, whether it's because of relief or disappointment

Then all of a sudden the waiting will be over. You'll open your results and know exactly where you stand.

Will Track update by 8am?

You might find your Ucas Track hasn't updated in time for results day morning, so don't be too concerned if your status hasn't changed. 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 email your AS12 letter. 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, be sure to store the email safely (and ideally print out a copy of the letter). You'll need it as proof for your student bank account and things like that. Get a folder for all the information you receive from the university.

More like this: six things you must do before A-level results day

If you make your firm offer

Congratulations! Get excited! Go and tell your friends. Phone your Auntie Mabel. Tell everyone!

You can start getting prepared for university with our guide to Freshers Week 2020

If you wish to decline your offer, you can go into Clearing. Since 2019, Ucas has provided a feature where you can self-release into Clearing if you wish to decline your offers.

Here's our guide to Clearing, for a bit more information. 



If you miss 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 confirmed then you're fine. Relax, celebrate and leave the phone lines clear – you don't need to phone your university 'just to check'.

If Track shows that you've been unsuccessful, it's time to rethink your options for September. Although it can feel tempting to call your firm choice university and ask them to rethink offering you place, there's not much point. The uni will have spent time already contemplating your application and their decision will be final. 

But if you are going to appeal any of your grades or have new information to provide, it's worth keeping the university informed.

If you do phone the uni for either of these reasons, remember to keep calm, and however stressed you feel, try not to be rude. The person who answers the phone will be trained to help you, and is more likely to want to help you if you are polite.

Remember that the more competitive the uni is, the less likely they are to be lenient.

If Track doesn't update

If Track still has not updated by mid-morning on results day, 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 it 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 – it could even be more than a week after results day. If it reaches this point and you are still waiting, phone and ask when they expect to decide. Keep calm and remain polite – the person answering the phone may have no control over this process so taking your frustration out on them is futile.

That said, 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.

Checking Track on A-level results day

If you miss your firm offer, but the university still accepts you

If Track says you have a confirmed place despite you missing your grades, you have a place.

Congratulations! That's it. You'll just need to go home and wait for your AS12 email to come through. Don't phone the uni just to check they really meant it. If it's on Track as confirmed, you have a place.

If you wish to decline your offer, you can go into Clearing. You can self-release into Clearing if you wish to decline your offers.

If you miss your firm offer, and the university will not accept you

You have several options, which your school/college will be able to talk you through with specific regard to your circumstances. These include:

  • Accepting your insurance place
  • Applying to different universities through Clearing
  • Retaking A-levels
  • Reapplying for next year

If you miss your firm offer, but meet your insurance offer

Nice work – you can still go to one of your top two universities! 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 the university to find out what the hold up is. Remember to stay calm and be polite.

If you are now going to your insurance choice, you will need to change your student loan details using your online student finance account, but this can wait a few days.

Wait for your confirmation letter to arrive and think about sorting out accommodation at your new university.

If you wish to decline your offer, you can still go into Clearing. You can self-release into Clearing if you wish to decline your offers.

If you miss your insurance offer as well as your firm offer

Check Ucas Track to see if you've been accepted with lower grades. If your insurance still says your offer is conditional it means they haven't decided yet – phone them up like you did your firm choice.

They may accept you with lower grades. If they accept you, that's great! If they don't, you'll be entered for Clearing, but remember that you don't have to go to another university if you don't want to.

Realising that neither your firm or insurance university will accept you can be very hard, especially if everyone else is jumping up and down and shrieking 'I'm going to uni!'. Your school has seen students in exactly this position before and can help. Don't fall into the trap of thinking 'my entire life is over'.

Go and talk to your teachers at school or 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 main options are to:

  • Enter Clearing to see if your grades are acceptable to another university
  • Take the optional series of 2020 Autumn exams, and find out if the university would be willing to make you an offer based on those results
  • Retake your A-levels next summer and reapply for next year's entry to uni
  • Forget about uni for the moment and either get a job, go to college to do a non-degree course, or do a traineeship or apprenticeship.

    If you miss your firm or insurance offer but the uni accepts you for a different course

    This will show up on Track as an unconditional place with substantial changes to your original choice, with details of the new course. 

    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 a course you want to do.

    The reason you'd be given this offer would probably be because you didn’t meet the conditions of your original choice, but the university still wants you to attend so it's found an alternative course that you do meet the conditions for. It could also be offering you a place on the same course that you originally applied to, but with a different start date. You'd have to speak to the uni directly to find out their exact reasoning behind the changed offer, though. 

    You'll only be able to reply once you've had a confirmation decision from both your firm and insurance choice

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

    If both your firm and insurance choices make you an unconditional changed course offer, you can then choose between them or decline both and go into Clearing.

    You can self-release into Clearing if you wish to decline any offers you hold.

    Student using phone

    Appealing your calculated grades

    You will only be able to appeal your results if you think an administrative error was made with your grade – for example, your name was mixed up with someone else’s and the wrong grade was entered into the system.

    If you think this might have happened, you’ll need to ask your school or college to open an appeal on your behalf. The deadline for submitting an appeal is 17 September, and your grade will be protected so it definitely won’t go down.

    Alternatively, if you think you were affected by bias or discrimination, the first thing to do is speak to your school or college and raise a complaint through them. If that does not solve the issue, you could consider going to the exam board.

    “It is important to remember that this would not be an appeal, but rather an allegation that malpractice or maladministration occurred in relation to your centre assessment grade(s) or rank order position(s). Such allegations would be serious, and taken seriously,” Ofqual has said in its guidance on appeals and malpractice

    There will also be a round of optional exams in the autumn that you will be able to take if you think your calculated grade is incorrect. 

    Sitting the optional autumn exams or retaking A-level exams next summer

    For those of you have achieved lower results than you had hoped, this section covers the process around sitting the optional autumn exams or retaking A-level modules next summer. Hopefully this will help to put your mind at ease.

    Will I still able to start university this year if I sit the autumn exams?

    This will be up to the individual universities, but hopefully yes.

    Ofqual has said that it has asked universities to be flexible in their admissions decisions for students choosing to take exams in the autumn and that it has been “reassured” by their response.

    “Students may still choose to take an exam even where their university or college place has been confirmed,” Ofqual commented.

    “However, it will take time for the results of these exams to be issued, so they will need to discuss with their higher and further education institution whether to start their course as planned or to delay their entry.”

    What are universities' views on retakes?

    Most universities will not raise concerns over the occasional retake; however, a few of the top universities, particularly Medical Schools, will feel that too many retakes show that you will not be able to cope with their course. Researching the policies of the relevant universities and if necessary contacting the admissions teams should allow you to find out their position on this.

    Retake decisions don't have to be rushed, so don't make a hasty decision. Remember that universities will see that you are retaking modules, as you have to declare the module as pending on Ucas.

    How should I prepare for my retakes?

    The first thing to do is to discuss your decision with the relevant teachers, who may otherwise not find our until after a significant delay – they can be the best people to give advice to you. Many people have a misconception that by doing retakes you will get a better result without doing revision. Do not fall into this mindset. Put the same amount of revision in for your retakes and new modules to get the best results.

    For subjects like English Literature or History, where the content can be completely different, you will simply waste your time and money if you don't revise. Treat the retake as if you were sitting the exam for the first time! For subjects like Mathematics and Physics, where the AS-Level content may seem very easy, spend more time doing past papers to perfect your technique to maximise your chances of doing well.

    How do I submit myself for a retake?

    For the optional autumn exams, your school or college will be responsible for entering you, so you'll need to speak with them. This is also true for private candidates who were entered for summer 2020 exams – you'll be able to enter yourself for the autumn exams through the centre you were previously registered with. 

    And when it comes to retaking next summer, every institution has a different set of policies, so it would be wise to discuss this with your examinations officer (or equivalent). The cost of modules can vary between £10 and £40, so it is important that you consider your decision carefully. If you are doing retakes at your old institution during a gap year, you may find that an additional administration charge is added. Make sure you meet the deadlines set, as otherwise you may incur significant late fees. 

    If you are unsure what the module codes or titles are, all relevant information should be on your results slip.

    Find out more about A-level retakes and resits here

    The Adjustment period

    If you exceed the requirements for your firm offer, you can consider looking for a place at a different university asking for higher entry grades. This is not the same as Clearing, which is for people who do not hold any university place offers.

    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.

    Remember you do not have to give up your firm offer in order to explore what else might be available to you in Adjustment, and you don't have to accept any alternatives you are offered.

    If you decide 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 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, but most will. If the university won't agree, then you have the option of withdrawing from Ucas for this year and reapplying.

    If you change your mind about going to university

    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 isn't for you. Or maybe you're unhappy with what you have ended up with and you now want to have a gap year and do some resits or apply again next year.

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

    If you hold an offer for this year and decide you don't want to accept it, 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.

    If you've got a deferred place for next year and decide you no longer want it, you must tell the uni. 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.

    If you don't currently hold an offer (for example if you missed your firm and insurance offers and they're not accepting you), you'll automatically be entered into Clearing. If you don't want to go into Clearing, you don't have to do anything. Just don't apply to anywhere through Clearing and you won't be going.

    If you want to officially withdraw from the Ucas process, 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 over your thoughts and feelings 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 a bit of time to consider everything.

    You could also reapply to more realistic or just different universities for next year.

    If your offer has 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 can't do anything to speed this process up. 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 can't 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 out on Clearing places.

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