A-level grades U-turn: what does it mean for your university entry?

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Post-results day changes to calculated grades mean more students will make their university offers – here’s what to do if this has affected you

A-level students received their calculated grades on Thursday 13 August – but following a huge backlash, a few days later the government announced that students would be awarded their centre assessment grades (CAGs) originally submitted by schools and colleges instead of the standardised grades.

Anyone who had received a higher grade after standardisation, though, will get to keep that higher grade.

This means that lots of students will be getting better results, and possibly meeting university offers that they had previously missed – almost 40% of the total A-level grades were knocked down from the CAGs.

Here’s how the changes to A-level grades could affect your university entry, and some advice to help you decide how to deal with it. We’ll keep updating this article as we get new information from Ucas and the universities.

More like this: answers to your questions about how the government’s U-turn on A-level and GCSE grades will affect you

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What happens if I have already accepted a place at a university that I want to go to?

If you have accepted a university place based on the results you were given on Thursday 13 August, you don’t need to do anything.

Even if your grades change you’ll still get to keep the higher of the two, so your university place is definitely safe.

Start getting ready for university with our ultimate packing checklist. Here’s where you’ll find loads of useful tips and advice about being a fresher.

More like this: join in with the discussion on our thread about the government U-turn on CAGs

When will I get my updated A-level results?

On 18 August, the Department for Education (DfE) tweeted that schools and colleges would receive the revised A-level and AS-level grades by 19 August, and that "by the end of the week [21 August] Ucas is aiming to share these grades with higher education providers". 

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What should I do if I didn’t originally make my firm or insurance choice offer, but with my new grades I have made my offer?

If you were initially rejected on results day but with your new results you meet the conditions of your offer, Ucas has advised that you try to avoid rushing into any decisions.

“Speak with your parents, guardians, and teachers, and then your first conversation will need to be to your firm (or insurance) choice university,” Ucas said.

“Once your university has your CAG via exam bodies they can make a decision as to whether there is a place at your preferred choice.”

More like this: hike in top A-level results after government U-turn on calculated grades

What should I do if I already accepted a place at an insurance or Clearing university but now I’ve met the offer of my firm choice?

The same advice as above applies here – don’t rush into making a decision, and speak to the university you want to go to before you do anything else.

It is not yet known what the process will be for anyone who wants to reverse their decision.

Ucas will be sending regular emails to applicants to keep them up to date, and this article will also be updated when we have more information about how it will work.

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Should I get in touch with the university if my CAGs mean I meet the conditions of my offer?

The first thing to do is take a quick look at the university’s website to see if they’ve posted anything advising applicants on what they should do in this situation.

You can find an up-to-date list of links to universities’ statements about this on our thread here.  

If the university hasn’t provided any specific guidance on what you should do yet, you could drop them an email with any evidence you have from your school that proves your CAGs will meet your offer.

Let them know in the email that you would definitely like a place, and ask if they are going to be able to either admit you this year or give you an unconditional offer for 2021.

Bear in mind that the universities will be incredibly busy right now, so you probably won’t get a reply right away.

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What happens if I meet the conditions of the offer, but the course is already full?

The government has lifted this year’s cap on university students, which will free up more spaces on many courses.

However, other courses will still have limits for all sorts of other reasons – including social distancing requirements, for example – so there is a chance that there may not be enough space.

As this is something that will vary depending on where you want to go, you should check with the university.

If they say they don’t have any more spaces left – even though you have met the conditions of the offer – you could ask if they will be able to offer you an unconditional place in 2021 instead.

If the course is full, will my university have to offer me an unconditional place next year?

There has not been any official guidance released about this yet – as things stand, it will be up to the universities.

Ucas has said that it is “working with Universities UK and the education sector, and whilst the decision is with the individual university, we will do everything we can to support students to use their CAGs to secure the best possible outcome.”

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