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A-Level results day and clearing – the highs and lows

14 August 2017

6 mins

If you’re anything like me, the topic of A-Level Results Day is one that was strictly off limits to everyone from the middle of June up until the actual day.

I’d written down every single piece of advice that BuzzFeed could offer, bought a notepad especially dedicated to the contact details of each university and the UCAS hotline number, and was heartily sick of promotional emails from universities I’d not even applied for but had been left on their mailing list from when I had been keenly searching courses.

In the end, my results day experience was actually simpler than I’d imagined. In fact, I’d considered every other possible outcome of the day other than being accepted straight away. But what happens if results day doesn’t quite turn out in the way you had imagined and what are the next steps you need to take?


I was in a very unique situation as my mum was my Head of Sixth Form (yep, it was awful at points) and she had to request that the results be withheld from her until 8 am on the morning of results day (she usually receives them a day prior).  I wasn’t allowed in to pick up my results until 9 am so had to go to a friend’s house whilst mum went into school. Whilst there, I checked my UCAS page just to see if anything had changed since 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 am.

I thought I’d misread it at first when the message flashed up, ‘Congratulations, your place to study English at Loughborough University has been confirmed’. I logged in and out five times before truly accepting that I’d done it! I then rang my mum in tears who had just been about to receive the results herself, but I managed to get to her first and, unashamedly, we both cried quite a lot.

Collecting the results

All that was left then was to go down to school and pick up my results envelope, but it didn’t really matter now; I knew I’d gotten my place. There’s no set time that UCAS updates on results day, the system crashes quite a lot with the pressure of thousands of people trying to log in. Most people know that they’ve achieved their place from UCAS before they pick up their results envelope though.

There will inevitably be a few people at your sixth form or college that haven’t quite met the grade requirements of their firm choice offer. It is always worth phoning the university to speak to an admissions officer, especially if you only just missed out on the requirements. There may be a slight chance that they have not filled all the places on the course you applied for, but unfortunately, it is a case by case basis and no one can guarantee anything until you have those results.

Clearing – easy and stress-free

This happened to my friend Jenni who missed out on her offer by one grade. Despite doing everything she could, unfortunately, her firm choice was unable to offer her a place on the course. I felt awful for her, especially as there were people running around screaming with excitement at their results. She then decided to reject her insurance choice and had to go into Clearing on UCAS and have a look at what other courses were available.

After what must have felt like an age to her, she had a list of universities who would accept her grades and she finally accepted a place at Keele University. She told me later it was the best decision she had ever made and in the end, she was grateful that she had to go through Clearing as she’s now happy at Keele. This is what she had to say about the process:

“Clearing was a daunting experience, but everyone at all the Universities that I phoned were really helpful and reassuring which made the process as easy and stress-free as possible. Although not getting into my first choice university at first seemed heartbreaking, I know clearing was right for me as it helped me to find the perfect university.”

Exceeding expectations

On the other side of the coin, you may find that you’ve actually exceeded your predicted grades and are able to apply for other universities with higher offers. This happened to my housemate Jamie who hadn’t even been to Loughborough before applying for adjustment and accepting an offer. This is what he told me about the process and why he chose to come here:

“Once I got over the initial buzz of exceeding my predicted grades, I applied for adjustment on UCAS. The whole process was very simple and straightforward and I achieved a place at Loughborough the very next day. Loughborough immediately caught my eye because it was ranked first for student satisfaction and boasted a long history of sporting success.”

Everyone’s experience of results day is going to be very different, but there are lots of things in place for you to consider if you don’t get the outcome that you expect. I know that here at Loughborough, we run a call centre service on results day and a few days after where you can ring up to speak to someone about admissions and I’m fairly confident that most other universities do the same thing.

Taking a year out

However, the story that remains most clear to me from my own results day is that of another friend, George. He had applied to the University of Birmingham and achieved two of the required grades but missed out on the third. He decided not to take his insurance or go through clearing as he was adamant that he wanted to study at Birmingham. Instead of settling for another course, he took a year out to work and earn money whilst self-teaching himself a different A-Level.

The following results day, he received confirmation of his place at Birmingham. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so happy for someone gaining a place at a university; it took immense tenacity and guts to do what he did, especially as there was no guarantee it would pay off. So even though this is quite a drastic example, results day doesn’t have to be the end of the road for what you want.

Good luck with everything, and cheesy as it may seem, whatever happens next will be the most amazing adventure!

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