Your one-stop guide to A-level results day
9th August 2018
When is A-level results day 2018?
UCAS Track opens at 08:00 (UK time) on Thursday 16th August 2018.
If your university/college has given UCAS its decision, you can see if you’ve got a place.
Remember – you can’t see exam results in Track.
To ensure the whole process runs smoothly we suggest your child:
- keeps calm. A-level results day is likely to be one of the most emotional days of your child’s life thus far. Even if, deep down, a student knows that things might not go according to plan, opening the envelope can be an all-consuming experience. It’s important to remain supportive throughout the process and to impress upon them the fact that there are always options on the table
- does plenty of research – there is a lot of information and useful links in the Results section at ucas.com/examresults. Doing that all-important preparation will help them make the right decisions
- gives UCAS the correct contact details and keeps them up-to-date
- understands the exact conditions of their offers, so they are able to make the right decisions when exam results are published
- fully understands how they will receive their results. Exam results are not shown in Track, it will only show whether or not an application has been successful. If their qualification is NOT listed at ucas.com/sendingexam-results they must send their results to the university or college themselves. They must not send them to UCAS.
The importance of checking Track
Track (www.ucas.com/track) will update with the status of their application – it should be the first place they look. Once they have their results, Track will update to reflect the university decisions. If Track shows a place is confirmed, it is not necessary to call UCAS.
Options when they get their results
If your child’s grades are different to their original expectations, there are three scenarios.
What is UCAS Adjustment?
If you’ve never heard of Adjustment then you’re not alone. According to a survey by Which?, a quarter of A-level students weren’t aware that they could swap their firm choice for a place on a different course with higher entry requirements if they performed better than expected in their exams.
For example, if your offer is for AAB but you end up getting AAA, you could use Adjustment to potentially find a place at another university instead.
How does Adjustment work?
You have five days from results day (or whenever your firm offer becomes unconditional) to use Adjustment, so you’ve got to act fast.
- You register for Adjustment in Track. Whilst hunting for a new place, your original firm choice remains safe and will remain so unless you confirm you’d like to go elsewhere.
- Unlike Clearing, there is no vacancy list for Adjustment, so you’ll need to check university websites and contact admissions offices directly at the university in which you’re interested. Have your personal ID number ready and tell them straight away that you’re applying through Adjustment.
- You can contact any university you like if you’re using Adjustment, even if it’s one that didn’t accept your application first time round (although there’s no guarantee they’ll have any spaces).
To switch or not to switch?
Before diving in with excitement to find a course at a ‘better’ university, think carefully.
You’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to where you are now. You have a confirmed place at a university you’ve most likely visited and were impressed with. You’ve looked into your course in detail and have your student finance and accommodation sorted.
Ask yourself: are you ready to turn your back on all this and seek a place elsewhere?
On the other hand, we are cursed (there really is no better word for it) with a ridiculous Higher Education system which lumps the same graduate tax (which is what it should be called, because it’s not a tuition “fee” in the usual sense) on you whether you attend a top ten university or an institution languishing near the bottom of the league tables. When you look at it this way, ‘upgrading’ your degree makes a good deal of sense.
What is Clearing?
If you don’t get the grades you need for the university course you’ve applied to, Clearing is an opportunity to grab a spot on a similar course either at that same university or elsewhere.
Clearing allows universities to fill up any vacant spots on their courses. After all, the last thing they want is to have empty seats in their lecture theatres come September. For them, more students equals more funding.
According to UCAS, just under 60,000 students found a university place through Clearing in 2017. That equates to just over a tenth of all university places!
Keep in mind that any spots available on popular courses at the highest-ranked universities will likely be filled by the end of the first week of Clearing following results day – so don’t wait around!
Even if you don’t get the grades you need, you might not need to enter Clearing. If it’s a near miss, first check with your university to see whether they will still accept you. Sometimes they will if, say, their requirement was AAA but you achieved AAB.
How to prepare for Clearing
- If you don’t feel confident that you’ll get the grades you need, it can’t hurt to start preparing a back-up plan just in case. See which other universities offer the same – or similar – courses with slightly lower grade requirements, or try those which didn’t quite make your top five UCAS choices earlier in the year.
- Make sure you’ve got all your important information and documents to hand before making any calls – UCAS number, Clearing number, A-level/GCSE grades – along with a pad of paper and a working pen! Expect to be given a lot of information on the spot, which you need to make a note of for later.
- Practise what you’d say in a mini-interview should you have one over the phone. Write down some questions you’re likely to be asked along with some brief responses for each.
How to handle the Clearing process on the day
Clearing is very fast-paced and can feel hectic, especially on results day when dealing with your own emotions. Here’s a preview of what to expect:
- On results day, check Track as early as possible to see the status of your application. If eligible for clearing, it will say so and you’ll be provided with a Clearing number.
- If you’re not sure about the status of your university place, contact the institution directly to get confirmation from them. They’ll have extra staff on hand taking calls on the day but be patient if you don’t get through straight away.
- If eligible for Clearing, you can start calling universities through their dedicated Clearing phone lines to speak to someone about the course you’re interested in.
- UCAS, along with major broadsheets such as The Telegraph and The Guardian, will display live updates of all courses available through Clearing.
- Some universities may make a decision based purely on your grades; others may ask a few questions to gauge your interest in a particular course, almost like a mini-interview.
- They’ll tell you whether they’re prepared to offer you a place there and then, after which you’ll usually be given 24 hours to accept. The most important thing to remember is not to feel pressurised into taking the first thing that comes along. Keep calm and keep calling around so you can make an informed choice once there are a few offers on the table.
- Remember to confirm your place on UCAS Track once you’ve decided to accept an offer with which you are happy.
- Other Options
Sometimes, an apprenticeship, a gap year spent working or reapplying the following year can be the best option. There are countless examples of doctors, City traders and other successful individuals who have either repeated their A-levels or simply delayed their entry to university.
As ever, our friendly team at Capstone will be available to take your calls on and around results day to offer any advice you may need.