Not sure what to expect from A-level results day? Allow us to cut through the hype...
A-level results day can be stressful – especially with cancelled exams, calculated grades and a student numbers cap thrown into the mix.
If you’re feeling nervous, you’re definitely not alone. But the good news is that you’ve got more options now than ever before.
Getting your head around everything that’s out there will help you feel confident and prepared for results day.
We asked Charlotte Renwick, Leeds Beckett University’s associate director of marketing and UK student recruitment, to help us tackle the misinformation and misunderstandings around results day.
Fib #1 | You won’t get into your firm choice if you don’t get the grades
Don’t jump to conclusions if you don’t quite get the grades you need; there’s always flexibility on results day.
This year, universities will also be considering their entry criteria in the light of cancelled exams and calculated grades.
“Unis aren’t necessarily more lenient this year, but they’ll be using past data and success rates to determine, on a course-by-course basis, the level of qualifications a student would need to be able to progress, achieve and succeed,” says Charlotte.
If you haven’t quite got the grades you need, the first thing to do is to check if your firm choice has been accepted. This might still happen!
If you do miss out on your first choice then give them a call. They may offer you a similar subject, or give you the option to take a foundation year that will get you into your firm choice.
“Universities will be trying to help you,” says Charlotte. “Whether it’s offering alternative subjects or a foundation programme...universities want to have these conversations to help you.”
Fib #2 | Your options will be limited if you’re using Clearing
Not having much choice is always a worry for students using Clearing. But the idea that there are no good courses in Clearing couldn't be further from the truth.
“There are so many options, the choice is probably overwhelming,” says Charlotte.
Although a handful of universities don’t enter Clearing, pretty much any course could be listed if a uni has places it wants to fill. So don’t be surprised to see even the most popular subjects pop up.
In some cases you will be able to see online where entry requirements have been relaxed.
“Unis have a responsibility around access, so some have started publishing their Clearing criteria,” says Charlotte.
“This lets students see what grades they need, and where [universities] can be flexible, which means students can have a more detailed Plan B.”
Ucas has also introduced Clearing Plus this year. This new service (which will appear in Track) uses information from your application to match you to available courses.
Using the online service, you’ll be able to respond to universities and colleges if you’re interested in a particular space.
Fib #3 | You have to make a phone call
Phoning up universities is a good way to find a place in Clearing - but it’s no longer the only option. Universities know how daunting the Clearing call can be – and many are offering other ways to get in touch.
“It matters to us that we communicate with young people using the channels they’re familiar with,” says Charlotte.
“The experience is far more virtual now, and a lot of unis are now making provisional offers via live chat and online messenger. In fact, we made 495 offers via our chatbot alone last year.”
If you’re connecting online, bear in mind that you still need to have everything together. Be sure to gather all the relevant information – such as your Ucas number and previous grades – before you start your virtual chat.
Fib #4 | You need to make a decision right away
One of the biggest misconceptions about Clearing is that, once you’ve been given a verbal offer, you have to decide on the spot.
You’ll always be given some thinking time - exactly how long will depend on the university and the popularity of the course you’re applying for.
Make sure you ask when the deadline is, so you know how long you’ve got. During that time, you can talk to other universities as well and hopefully get a few offers to choose from.
“If you feel you need more time, just have the discussion with the university,” says Charlotte. “Universities want to help you get to where you want to be, so they’ll be as flexible as they can.”
Fib #5 | Ucas Track will go live in the middle of the night
This is the perennial myth that appeals to anyone who’s hopeful and short on patience.
But don’t be tempted to keep checking your Ucas Track throughout the early hours.
It updates at 08:00 on A-level results day – and that’s just the same this year as any other. Get some sleep instead!
Fib #6 | You can’t start planning until you get your results
Although Clearing is associated with results day, there’s plenty you can do in advance so that you’re not left in a panic.
“I hadn't considered using Clearing until I found out I hadn't achieved the results I needed,” says Leeds Beckett student Leah Burke.
“[But] it’s useful [to know] that it’s 'normal' to go through Clearing and understand that not everyone gets into their university choices.”
Ucas lists Clearing places from 6 July - so you can look around while you’re waiting for your results.
Should you spot any interesting courses, virtual tours and virtual open days will give you an idea of what life on campus looks like.
Many universities also offer pre-registration lists. By signing up, you’ll be able to let universities know what subjects you’re interested in and receive regular updates related to your choices.
Fib #7 | You won’t get a place in halls if you’ve gone through Clearing
According to a recent Ucas survey, 64% of applicants say university accommodation is as important as the course itself.
The last-minute nature of Clearing can lead students to worry they won’t be able to find university accommodation, but many universities will have reserved places specifically for students using Clearing.
It’s a good question to ask when you are looking for course places. Check also for accommodation virtual tours - which are becoming increasingly common - so you can take an up-close look before booking anything.
About our sponsor
Leeds Beckett is committed to making sure students have all the information you need ahead of results day.
Leeds Beckett also has courses available in Clearing across many subject areas – you can call 0113 812 3113 for more information or speak to their 24/7 Chatbot.