In the UK, students receive their A- and AS-level results in mid August. These exams are taken by the majority of people who want to gain a place at university, or on a Higher Education course. The pressure to do well and achieve A grades can be very high, and not every student will get the results they had hoped for.
Most students will have studied between 3 and 5 subjects. These could have been at AS-level, which is generally a single year. A-levels usually take 2 years of study. Those at Sixth Form Colleges may also have studied for other level 3 qualifications such as BTEC Nationals or even the International Baccalaureate.
For many students, A-level results day is one of great excitement and celebration. However, for a significant number of students, opening their A-level results envelopes brings disappointment. Knowing how to survive getting lower grades than you expected will help you get through results day and beyond.
Even before the results arrive, you should have given some thought to whether you intend to go through Clearing, Confirmation and Adjustment. This is a short period of time where students who have not achieved the grades they were expecting can still apply for any vacancies at universities and colleges.
Having a contingency plan of one or two institutions that you would be willing to consider if they have any vacancies left is a good idea. As soon as you get your results, you should telephone either the institution you are interested in as your second choice, or the UCAS team of advisors, and register for Clearing.
Going through Clearing is not the only option however. Once you have your results, you could apply to a course that begins the following year. This will give you the opportunity to do some paid or volunteer work. Universities look favourably on applicants with work and life experience, so this is never a waste of time.
An alternative to full-time study in Higher Education is to take the course part-time instead. This will allow you to still do the course you want, but also work at the same time to fund your studies. Part-time entry requirements are usually lower than their full-time equivalents.
Another part-time study option is the Open University. This will allow you to study at your own pace, with full support from experienced tutors, and build credits towards a degree. You can also take single modules with the Open University that are stand-alone continued professional development qualifications.
If you want a break from studying, then getting a job is another option. You may find it difficult without any experience, but if you are willing to carry out simple boring tasks, then you should be able to find a job. Some large chains such as Boots the Chemist and Marks and Spencer have trainee schemes where you could rise up through the company to management level.
Taking A-levels is a worth while experience, but they should never be seen as the only route into Higher Education or work. For some people, practical experience and on the job training is a better approach than academic studies. If you don’t get the grades you wanted, there are still plenty of options open to you.