How to handle A-level results day worries

Not sure what to expect from A-level results day? We spoke to the University of Southampton for some expert advice

A-level results day is a nailbiter. After weeks of awaiting your results, the big day arrives and you finally discover how you’ve done. 

It’s tense. It’s nerve-wracking. And this year, just like last year, it’s also all a bit weird. Exams feel a little different than they have previously and that might make you a little more anxious than normal.

Nonetheless, if you’re feeling a bit jittery about having no direct control over your results...well, you’re definitely not the only one. 

Understanding all your options is a good way to feel more confident so that you’re ready no matter how results day itself plays out. 

We enlisted the help of an expert - the University of Southampton’s admissions director, David Winstanley - for some tips on handling results day.

Making - or missing - your grades

So here’s a thing. Even if you miss your offer for your chosen university course, you might still get the place you’re after.

Universities get to see your A-level grades several days before results day, and they spend this time making decisions on offered places.

The grades you get will be just one aspect of that decision, explains David.

“We understand the commitment that students have made to us by making us their firm choice,” he says. 

“If we’ve read their personal statement, and the reference from their teacher, and are keen to have them at our university then, where possible, we will try to accommodate those who have narrowly missed out on their offer.”

That might mean you still get your place at your firm university. Or, if that’s not possible, the uni may suggest an alternative by giving you a ‘changed course offer’.


Keep searching

While you’re waiting for results day to come, you can ease your nerves by preparing for every eventuality. 

“Before applying, you researched possible university courses in a rational, logical way,” says David. “But if you don’t get the right grades on results day it’s easy to panic.

“Keep calm by preparing yourself with a thorough knowledge of alternative courses now. 

“If you miss out on your firm and insurance choices, or decide your offers are no longer suitable, then having defined ideas for what else you could do will stop you making any rash decisions on the day itself.”

You can work on these ideas by looking through the Clearing options listed on the Ucas website (more about this below). Work up a shortlist from there, so you’ve got alternative choices that you can feel good about if you need them.

Get your head around Clearing

If your results mean you aren’t offered either your firm or insurance university place, you will be released into Clearing - and this is when all that preparation will come in very handy. 

“Clearing offers you an opportunity to see what else is out there, once you know your results,” says David.

“Apart from those already oversubscribed, most courses will still have places available, so don’t accept the first one you come across. 

“It’s a three, four or five year commitment you’re making so it’s crucial you take your time to find something you’re really happy with.”

You’ll also have the option of using UCAS’s  Clearing Plus service, which you can use before results day to get suggested courses that match your profile and grades.

Look further down the road

If you find you’re stressing out about results day, try shifting your focus. Yes, it might be easier said than done - but try to remember that however your results come out, you’ll always have options. 

Within a couple of months, you’ll have your results and you’ll be looking ahead at a whole new adventure. 

Criminology student Sarah joined the University of Southampton through Clearing, and looking back she says: “It’s a bit like a rollercoaster, all these emotions, but if I’d known last year what I know now - that everything is going to be alright - I’d do it again.”

By taking the time to prepare for results day, you can be confident of making choices you’ll be happy with.

“The universities are doing everything they can, despite the current situation, to deliver a fantastic experience for you in the autumn,” says David. “So good luck!”

About our sponsor

University of Southampton

Southampton might be your perfect fit. We’re a Russell Group university and home to a vibrant community of students from all over the world. We have limited places available in Clearing this year. You can register now for updates to make sure you’re the first to hear all our Clearing news.

This is your time to shine.

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