August_14_calendarIt’s been a black mark in your calendar all summer and you break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Every sixth form student in the nation will go to bed on August 13th with a little fear in their hearts. Nothing we can say can remove the anxiety you will feel in the lead up to results day, but what we can do is help you to prepare for any eventuality. No matter how confident you felt when you walked out of that exam room, or what grades you are predicted, being aware of your options is the key to success on results day.

There are several options for Year 13 students on results day that will enable you to progress on to university, and depending on the grades you get, one of them will apply to you. We strongly recommend reading through all the options so you are fully prepared for any outcome.

Option One – Accepting

If you got the results you were expecting then well done you! Your firm or insurance university or college will confirm your place via UCAS Track. You should also receive information from your university about what to do next.

Option Two – Clearing

“You are in Clearing”. If you see this when you log into UCAS Track on Thursday morning, you might feel like the world has ended, your dreams of going to university have become a far and distant memory and you might as well pack up shop. SNAP OUT OF IT! Wallowing won’t help you get a university place and yes, it is still possible to fulfil your life-long dreams of being a university student. Over 30,000 students secured their university place through UCAS Clearing, and so could you. Here are our simple steps to mastering the art of Clearing:

a) Start researching alternative courses and universities with lower criteria. Some universities will begin posting Clearing vacancies long-before results day so have a look on the UCAS website and look at university websites for further information on the course content, structure and assessment methods. Many leading universities offer well-respected courses through Clearing (two thirds of the Russell Group universities had places available in Clearing 2013, making up 10% of the total number of courses on offer) so don’t be under the impression that it’s only the dregs left!

b) Create a shortlist of universities to target on Thursday morning; gather the telephone numbers for each and make some notes for why you want to go to each university.

c) On the morning of results day, by a copy of the Telegraph or download the Telegraph Clearing App and regularly check the UCAS website for Clearing spaces. You will need to give them your Clearing number and your UCAS Personal ID.

d) Have a reasonable explanation for missing your grades and a copy of your personal statement to hand. You need to be able to explain exactly why they should pick you so have a clear answer in your mind and use your personal statement as a prompt.

e) Get some informal offers from universities. Then browse through their website and read more about the course and university. It’s easy to go for the first offer you receive, but you still need to be 100% that it’s the right place for you. Don’t worry if you get a few rejections and definitely don’t give up! You have the whole day as UCAS won’t access Clearing entries via Track until 5pm.

f) You can only confirm your place at one university and this will be done using Track. The university will then send you a confirmation and further details on what to do next.

g) Your teachers are very experienced in offering advice on all exam-related topics so keep them in the loop. Share any concerns or questions and talk to them about your plans. They are there to help and offer guidance so pipe up and ask for help.

Option Three – Remarking

If your grade is much lower than you had expected, the Examinations Officer at your school can ask the exam board to send your paper to be remarked. The exam boards must receive this request by 23rd August, and there is a charge of up to £53 for remarking A Level papers. This is sometimes paid for by your school, but you need to check this. If your grade changes, you will of course be refunded. The most important thing to remember is that your mark could also go down as well as up, so the process is a risky one. You should talk to your teachers to see whether they think that remarking is the right option for you.

Option Four – Adjustment

It might be hard to believe, but you could end up doing better than you or your teachers predicted (wohooo!). This means that you will definitely be accepted by your firm choice, but it also means that you’re eligible to go through UCAS Adjustment. Adjustment allows students to upgrade their offer at a university which is asking for higher entry requirements. You might be wondering why you’d want to do this, but it could be that there was one university which you always wanted to go to but you didn’t have the predicted grades to apply, or the course could be better-suited to your needs or they could have the best night life and student facilities. Whatever your reasons, there is this option available. It’s like arriving to check-in to a hotel and the receptionist tells you that you’ve got a free upgrade to the penthouse suite! Sweet! Here’s how it works:

  • First, you will need to register for Adjustment using UCAS Track.
  • Your original offer (from your firm university) will not be affected unless you actually go on to accept another offer.
  • There is no central list where all available places are listed so you’ll have to look on university websites where they will list their courses.
  • You’ll need to call the admissions department and discuss your application. You might have a short telephone interview, in which you’ll have to explain why you want to study this particular course and why you have selected the university. Don’t be put off by this process! The interview is very informal but have your personal statement to refer to. Just make sure that you are passionate about the course and confident in your results. Don’t let them think it was a fluke – you got the grades because you deserve them and you worked hard!
  • If the university or college decides to give you an offer, they will phone you or contact you via UCAS Track, so ensure that you have access to both of these throughout the next few days.
  • Once you hear from them, keep checking your UCAS Track page so you can accept the offer when it comes through.
  • Once you click ‘accept’, only then will your original offer will be affected, so make sure you’ve thought it through carefully and discussed the decision with teachers and family.

There are some pros and cons to Adjustment so have a read of some of the points below.

a) The Adjustment period only lasts five days, so you have a very short space of time to make a decision. If you do find yourself in this situation, it might be a good idea to speak to a teacher about your options, particularly if you are thinking of changing your course.

b) Because you will be accepting a new university offer at such a late stage in the year, you might be at the back of the queue for student accommodation, and student finance might be affected too. It would be good to discuss accommodation and finance issues when you phone up the admissions department of the university to which you wish to apply.

c) It’s really important that you don’t make a spur of the moment decision. If you are happy with the course and university you originally chose, stick with it!

d) Investigate the course content. A course with the same name could at another university have a different structure or assessment methods, and cover different topics to your original course.

e) You may not be successful. You will not be judged on grades alone; your whole UCAS application will be taken into consideration and you’ll be up against competition from other students going through the process, so it isn’t a guarantee.

The most important thing to remember on Thursday is that there are always options, but being prepared will allow you to make the best possible decision for you. Teachers, family and friends are excellent support networks – use them for advice and guidance.

We are here for you too – if you want to talk to a member of the PP team about your options or you want some advice, then please pick up the phone and call: 020 7122 1220. Happy to help :).

We wish you all the best of luck.