If you mess up A levels, what to do next? Watch

Martin2343
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#21
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#21
(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Hey, sorry for not getting back to you on this sooner.

My personal opinion is that it's not a great idea to go to uni for a course you're not 100% sure on. If you're happy to retake I honestly do think that is a good option and it sounds like there are reasons you didn't do quite as well as hoped.

I think taking the hit on physics will be fine - doing 4 A-levels is unusual these days anyway and if you expect to get AAAB that would be great for a lot of unis.

How long do you have to decide about the Southampton offer?

I'm sorry this has happened and good luck for the future.
I have already accepted the Southampton offer in order to hold it, as I am able to decline my place until mid september. The course is now no longer in clearing.
I posted an update regarding my situation, which changes the plan for the retake option:

(Original post by Martin2343)
Bit of an update:

I applied for my special consideration and remarking, and have managed to get my grades up to A*ABB in Maths, Further Maths, Computer Science and Physics respectively

I'm so gutted because I was 2 marks off both CS and Physics from an A. My school appealed for the CS coursework to be remoderated, as the whole school's coursework marks were moderated down. The result of this remoderation will be after the university deadline (30th August), so in 2 days.

I contacted Edinburgh, explaning all my circumstances yet they still rejected me given I did not achieve A*AA. I asked about first year entry for AAA, and they still rejected. I was really hoping they would be more lenient.

I'm happy on one hand to get my grades up but also sad that I once again had a bit of hope and missed out narrowly.

The only real difference these new grades means is that if I choose to retake, I could perhaps only retake one subject instead of three. I'm not sure if this changes your suggestions harrysbar Arisapo
Though I have read that the top unis require you to sit all three subjects in one sitting
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Martin2343
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#22
(Original post by ajj2000)
Have you considered a year out and applying for computer science without retaking A levels? You should have some really good options and benefit from a year to do other things.
Unfortunately with A*ABB I still would be limited for my options for Computer Science, simply due to how competitive the course has become.
In the case that this is possible, do you know how to go about finding experiences and what to do over the gap year? I understand most people plan their gap year a year ahead, so this would be fairly last minute, which I fear would not allow me to get year in industry etc..
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SarcAndSpark
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#23
(Original post by Martin2343)
I have already accepted the Southampton offer in order to hold it, as I am able to decline my place until mid september. The course is now no longer in clearing.
I posted an update regarding my situation, which changes the plan for the retake option:
Sorry I missed your update! I was on mobile last night.

These days there are very few unis that require people to take all their A-levels in one sitting, except for courses like medicine. Unis will also take into account your reasons for needing to retake- a death in the family around exam time is a much stronger reason than, say, not working hard enough! With you grades in hand already, I'd say you would be in quite a strong position reapplying.

I think it ultimately comes down to whether you would be happy to do the course at Southampton or not. If you don't like the course, then you'll end up regretting your choices at best, or dropping out at worst- and then you'll be back to square one having wasted a year of your student finance.

But if you think you would enjoy the course and you like the uni, A*AB won't hold you back from anything in the future. The highest A-level requirements I've seen for internships and grad schemes are AAB.
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Martin2343
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Sorry I missed your update! I was on mobile last night.

These days there are very few unis that require people to take all their A-levels in one sitting, except for courses like medicine. Unis will also take into account your reasons for needing to retake- a death in the family around exam time is a much stronger reason than, say, not working hard enough! With you grades in hand already, I'd say you would be in quite a strong position reapplying.

I think it ultimately comes down to whether you would be happy to do the course at Southampton or not. If you don't like the course, then you'll end up regretting your choices at best, or dropping out at worst- and then you'll be back to square one having wasted a year of your student finance.

But if you think you would enjoy the course and you like the uni, A*AB won't hold you back from anything in the future. The highest A-level requirements I've seen for internships and grad schemes are AAB.
Thanks for the reply!
As I mentioned previously, I still don't believe A*ABB is strong enough for me to apply next year with (without resitting), since most unis require A*AA for Computer Science. My firm uni state on their website that they would want the three a levels in one sitting, and I don't think my insurance accept retakes.
It's good to hear however that these grades won't hold me back in the future.
I'm not sure whether it's worth the risk to reapply with the same grades next year, in the hope that the grades would be sufficient enough. A*AAB would've made the world of a difference. I could try requesting course change to CS at southampton, though they seemed to be full, though this was when I requested them with my ABBB grades.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Martin2343)
Thanks for the reply!
As I mentioned previously, I still don't believe A*ABB is strong enough for me to apply next year with (without resitting), since most unis require A*AA for Computer Science. My firm uni state on their website that they would want the three a levels in one sitting, and I don't think my insurance accept retakes.
It's good to hear however that these grades won't hold me back in the future.
I'm not sure whether it's worth the risk to reapply with the same grades next year, in the hope that the grades would be sufficient enough. A*AAB would've made the world of a difference. I could try requesting course change to CS at southampton, though they seemed to be full, though this was when I requested them with my ABBB grades.
Sorry, when I say you'd be in a strong position to reapply, I do mean with resitting- but because you already have A*AB, unis will be confident in your ability to achieve A*AB.

Given your circumstances, I think even unis that aren't usually keen on resits should have some flexibility. I also can't see anything about resits on UCL's website from a quick skim read. In the past, I know they weren't keen on resits without extenuating circumstances, but I think they've had to relax this policy a bit in recent years.

I'd suggest emailing both unis, explaining your circumstances and asking if they'd accept you if you retook and achieved an A, and whether they'd like you to retake all 3 A-levels or just the one. At least then you'll know where you stand.

It might be worth emailing Southampton again too with your new grades. There might have been some movement which means a compsci place is now available!
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harrysbar
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I agree with the above and would like to add in the fact that many Unis seem slightly more lenient on people who have achieved rather than merely predicted grades. My son applied to 4 History degrees asking for AAB with achieved grades of ABB and he got 4 offers. The Unis weren’t quite in the same league as UCL but they weren’t bad ones - Leeds, Exeter, Birmingham and Southampton
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ajj2000
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Such a difficult one - its a bit of an issue knowing what the 'real' grades required for different courses is. Computer Science has been very popular recently which probably makes it harder to predict. I wonder if you posted on the university subject board if you might find out what grades people were accepted with this year (as opposed to the offers - which are often kept a bit high as an image thing)?
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Arisapo
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A*AB is a fantastic set of grades and wouldn’t hold you back from anything in the future if you’re worried about that; they’re equivalent to AAA after all.

I’d still consider the Southampton offer as it’s a good uni and seems like an interesting course but if you’re still unsure, I’d take a year out and reapply but without resorting.

I’d say your grades are still strong enough that with a good personal statement you’d be able to get a few offers. Check the offer rates for the courses you’re keen on so you get a decent spread.

Regardless, due to how tough they can be and the effort required to organise them, I probably wouldn’t recommend resitting.
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Martin2343
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#29
(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Sorry, when I say you'd be in a strong position to reapply, I do mean with resitting- but because you already have A*AB, unis will be confident in your ability to achieve A*AB.

Given your circumstances, I think even unis that aren't usually keen on resits should have some flexibility. I also can't see anything about resits on UCL's website from a quick skim read. In the past, I know they weren't keen on resits without extenuating circumstances, but I think they've had to relax this policy a bit in recent years.

I'd suggest emailing both unis, explaining your circumstances and asking if they'd accept you if you retook and achieved an A, and whether they'd like you to retake all 3 A-levels or just the one. At least then you'll know where you stand.

It might be worth emailing Southampton again too with your new grades. There might have been some movement which means a compsci place is now available!
I've tried emailing them, they don't seem to respond. I've tried calling, it's always busy!
I'll keep trying I guess until I get a response.
Even if they do say that there's a possibility, it's still quite risky, especially taking 3 a levels again without any support, having already achieved A* in maths, I risk that grade going down.
I'll get back to you when I hear a response from them!
I would've thought my firm would've been slightly flexible due to my circumstances and being so close meeting my offer, but I guess if they're oversubscribed it's not possible, which I fear for next year too
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Martin2343
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Such a difficult one - its a bit of an issue knowing what the 'real' grades required for different courses is. Computer Science has been very popular recently which probably makes it harder to predict. I wonder if you posted on the university subject board if you might find out what grades people were accepted with this year (as opposed to the offers - which are often kept a bit high as an image thing)?
having constantly chased my firm, they revealed to me that they did not offer anyone who got less than 3 A's this year. Regardless of whether that was A*AB or A*A*B, they just wanted three A's... Not even accounting for how many A levels were taken, or any circumstances surrounding the exam period.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by Martin2343)
having constantly chased my firm, they revealed to me that they did not offer anyone who got less than 3 A's this year. Regardless of whether that was A*AB or A*A*B, they just wanted three A's... Not even accounting for how many A levels were taken, or any circumstances surrounding the exam period.
Thats rough. Did they give any indication on resits? Any idea how the like of Warwick and Southampton (CS)/ Manchester would treat your grades?
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Martin2343
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#32
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Thats rough. Did they give any indication on resits? Any idea how the like of Warwick and Southampton (CS)/ Manchester would treat your grades?
I asked my firm about retakes, they weren't too keen. Their website stated that "All three Alevels must be taken in one sitting", so presumably that means that I'd have to retake 3 of my 4 a levels again, which would have to include Maths, Further Maths too since they were part of the offer. (in which I got A*A in). They also mentioned it being a disadvantage to candidates applying with predicted grades the first time round, and that the entry requirement might be raised.
Seems quite rough, and they seem very reluctant on retakes.
Haven't reached out to Warwick/Southampton etc yet.
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harrysbar
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In the Law forum Arisapo found that the only unis he approached who definitely wouldn't accept resits without extenuating circumstances were UCL, LSE, KCL, Leeds & Warwick. Places like Southampton and Bristol were happy to do so.

You are applying for a different course but I can't imagine it's that different for you. I agree that it's risky for you to retake Maths, and it seems like several top unis will penalise you for taking resits anyway.

With A*ABB you would get offers from some good unis, even if not UCL, so it's beginning to seem that retakes might not be such a good idea. If I were you, I would either take the Southampton offer on the table or take a year out and reapply to 5 unis for Computer Science, making very careful choices ranging from the aspirational (but still realistic) to ones asking for slightly lower grades like Kings (AAA) or Exeter (AAB) where you are more likely to get offers.
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Arisapo
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(Original post by harrysbar)
In the Law forum Arisapo found that the only unis he approached who definitely wouldn't accept resits without extenuating circumstances were UCL, LSE, KCL, Leeds & Warwick. Places like Southampton and Bristol were happy to do so.

You are applying for a different course but I can't imagine it's that different for you. I agree that it's risky for you to retake Maths, and it seems like several top unis will penalise you for taking resits anyway.

With A*ABB you would get offers from some good unis, even if not UCL, so it's beginning to seem that retakes might not be such a good idea. If I were you, I would either take the Southampton offer on the table or take a year out and reapply to 5 unis for Computer Science, making very careful choices ranging from the aspirational (but still realistic) to ones asking for slightly lower grades like Kings (AAA) or Exeter (AAB) where you are more likely to get offers.
I completely agree with you.

Considering your grades are already excellent already, I see no real benefit in resitting, especially considering some unis aren't keen on resits anyway.

If you're not keen on the Southampton course (although I'd definitely consider it), do exactly what @harrysbar has said and apply for a mixture of unis for CS, but make sure you'd still be happy to go to them so not in a predicament again.

I can't imagine with A*ABB, you wouldn't manage to get any offers; how you do at uni and the grades you achieve there are ultimately far more important.
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ajj2000
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Agree with the above - you've little to gain from resitting outside of possibly improving your chance of a place in a different university, and it would be a really painful year doing so to go up one grade (especially were you to do so in a course which includes coursework). If you really wanted to do so I'd be more inclined to tackle a new subject like Business Studies so you learn something new and a bit different.

I'm more cautious on the Southampton course. For all I would much rather take Electronics / EEE than CS its a very full on course and you need to be motivated from day 1. If you look at it and like what you see then great, but my bet is that you could find a good CS course next year (or maths / CS if that appeals) and spend a year having some fun and learning some programming etc on your own.
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Martin2343
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Thanks for the unanimous advice.
I didn't realise I only had 14 days to decline my Southampton offer, whereby now it is up to the university to decide whether to allow to release me or not. I'm scared that they won't allow me to decline this offer now.
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"If you accepted the unconditional offer within the last 14 days, you have the right to decline it if you let us know straight away. Contact our Customer Experience Centre on 0371 468 0 468 or +44 330 3330 230 (international) to decline your offer and discuss your options about accepting a different offer. After the 14 day period, you can only change your mind and not take up this place with the permission of the university or college whose offer you have accepted. To arrange this you will need to contact them and us. "

I was hoping to wait for the result of my remoderation for Computer Science coursework, which could take around 2/3 more weeks, in the hope of getting a deferred entry at my firm. But by then i'm pretty sure the university won't allow me to decline the place, especially since it was through clearing.
I don't want to risk trying to decline them now, but I also don't want to risk the slight possibility of getting deferred 2020 entry to my firm.
Everytime I make a plan it seems like there's always another factor that comes into play to ruin it ;(
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Martin2343)
Thanks for the unanimous advice.
I didn't realise I only had 14 days to decline my Southampton offer, whereby now it is up to the university to decide whether to allow to release me or not. I'm scared that they won't allow me to decline this offer now.
Spoiler:
Show
"If you accepted the unconditional offer within the last 14 days, you have the right to decline it if you let us know straight away. Contact our Customer Experience Centre on 0371 468 0 468 or +44 330 3330 230 (international) to decline your offer and discuss your options about accepting a different offer. After the 14 day period, you can only change your mind and not take up this place with the permission of the university or college whose offer you have accepted. To arrange this you will need to contact them and us. "

I was hoping to wait for the result of my remoderation for Computer Science coursework, which could take around 2/3 more weeks, in the hope of getting a deferred entry at my firm. But by then i'm pretty sure the university won't allow me to decline the place, especially since it was through clearing.
I don't want to risk trying to decline them now, but I also don't want to risk the slight possibility of getting deferred 2020 entry to my firm.
Everytime I make a plan it seems like there's always another factor that comes into play to ruin it ;(
Southampton won't force you to go there against your will, don't worry. They know that ultimately, if you are adament that you don't want to go there and they won't release you, you could just withdraw from the UCAS 2019 cycle anyway. I've never heard of a uni refusing to release an applicant, only dragging their heels sometimes and taking a few days to organise it.

What you don't want to do is to start running up any fees at Southampton if you're not sure you want to go there. Although you will not run up any tuition fees until 2 weeks into term, you will lose any accommodation deposit you pay to Southampton and you may be liable for more accommodation costs if you sign a contract with them.
Last edited by harrysbar; 2 months ago
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Martin2343
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Southampton won't force you to go there against your will, don't worry. They know that ultimately, if you are adament that you don't want to go there and they won't release you, you could just withdraw from the UCAS 2019 cycle anyway. I've never heard of a uni refusing to release an applicant, only dragging their heels sometimes and taking a few days to organise it.

What you don't want to do is to start running up any fees at Southampton if you're not sure you want to go there. Although you will not run up any tuition fees until 2 weeks into term, you will lose any accommodation deposit you pay to Southampton and you may be liable for more accommodation costs if you sign a contract with them.
Hey, thanks for the response
That's slightly reassuring, I thought that the tuition fee deposit goes straight through as soon as you join; if it really is the case of around 2 weeks later then that's good.
I'm not too bothered about the accomodation deposit and am able to take the hit on that one. I am still yet to actually get a confirmed accomodation place from them (though they guarantee it)
How do you withdraw from the 2019 cycle? Was there no deadline for this?
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Martin2343)
Hey, thanks for the response
That's slightly reassuring, I thought that the tuition fee deposit goes straight through as soon as you join; if it really is the case of around 2 weeks later then that's good.
I'm not too bothered about the accomodation deposit and am able to take the hit on that one. I am still yet to actually get a confirmed accomodation place from them (though they guarantee it)
How do you withdraw from the 2019 cycle? Was there no deadline for this?
You would need to tell Southampton that you wish to withdraw completely, and UCAS.

As an example of the 14 day rule, this is taken from the Leicester uni website

https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/sas2/f...your-studies-1
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Martin2343)
I've tried emailing them, they don't seem to respond. I've tried calling, it's always busy!
I'll keep trying I guess until I get a response.
Even if they do say that there's a possibility, it's still quite risky, especially taking 3 a levels again without any support, having already achieved A* in maths, I risk that grade going down.
I'll get back to you when I hear a response from them!
I would've thought my firm would've been slightly flexible due to my circumstances and being so close meeting my offer, but I guess if they're oversubscribed it's not possible, which I fear for next year too
I definitely don't think retaking your A* and A grades is a good idea- it is a risk your grades would go down.

Hopefully the unis get back to you soon, but now is obviously a busy time for them!

Did your firm know about your situation in advance?
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