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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsI was really, really worried about A-level results day. I had my heart absolutely set on my first choice university. And I knew that if I got to school and I didn't have those Offer grades, I would have been absolutely heartbroken. So what I actually did-- and I definitely would recommend it to other people to do the same-- is I logged on to UCAS the morning of results day, and I was able to see and prepare myself for either positive or negative news, and to see whether or not I had got into my university of choice. Luckily, I had, so I was able to go to school to pick up results already feeling confident and secure.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsI missed my first choice, but I got into my insurance. However, I decided I didn't want to go there, so I needed them to release me and to clear it, which took them about four hours. So it was very stressful four hours. And I remember it got to about 5 o'clock, and I was worried that the phone lines were going to close, but I finally got my clearing number. And so I could ring up universities and apply for a place over the phone. I had a feeling before results day that something had gone wrong. And so I actually made a list of universities that I would like to go to and York was at the top of that list.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 secondsAnd I remember ringing up and giving all my details, telling the admissions teacher everything that she needed to know. And she offered me a place in about ten minutes. And the feeling of relief was incredible. Because you've gone from the low of not getting in to your top choice, to the high of-- I actually get to go to university. And four years on, I'm so glad I didn't get in to my top choice, because I could not have imagined a better four years at university. I was 25 when I came to university, so I'd already had this kind of seven year gap between getting my A-levels and then coming to uni.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 secondsAnd the A-levels I did do didn't really feed into the degree that I was doing. I did a foundation degree. And so my kind of analogous experience really might have been when I got the email from the university itself, telling me that I'd been accepted, which was a really, really nice experience. So it felt that on results day, that was the only time everyone got excited about going to uni. And lots of my friends then knew where they were going, and we could all get excited together, so that was lovely. I'm quite an nervous person anyway when it comes to exams.

Skip to 2 minutes and 39 secondsBut I kind of have to take the outlook which I've done all the way through university as well, which is try and be positive. You've worked your hardest at whatever you can do, and there's nothing more you can do. And that's kind of the mindset I took when I got my exams on results day.

Results day! Now what?

Results day can be stressful but by making sure you understand exactly how it works you can help prepare yourself for anything that comes your way, making the process as smooth as possible for you.

Before you receive your results you should:

  • Make sure you have your UCAS track details on hand (UCAS Track is the online system that allows you to see how your application is progressing, you will receive your login details in your UCAS welcome email).
  • Be available on results day. You are the only person that universities and UCAS can speak to about your application unless you have given nominated access for someone else to speak on your behalf.
  • Have some key contact details to hand. Your firm and insurance choice university and any contact details that might have been provided to you by your school or college.

What happens if I don’t get the grades I was expecting?

In an ideal scenario, you will get the grades you need for your firm or insurance choice university, your place will be confirmed on UCAS track and you can look forward to starting university in September! However, there are some alternative scenarios you might want to be aware of if your results aren’t as high as predicted:

  • You might be made a ‘change of course offer’ by your firm or insurance university, if this is the case it is likely that you will receive an email (to the email address you put on your UCAS application form) explaining the offer and providing you with details of how to accept or decline.
  • You might not get a place at your firm or insurance choice but will be released into Clearing so you can see which universities and courses still have vacancies. You can find plenty of advice on the UCAS website about how Clearing works.
  • The decision on your application might be pending, if this is the case then check your emails as there may be an email explaining why your application is pending but if not, give your universities a call to find out more.

What happens if my grades are higher than predicted?

  • If your grades are higher than you were expecting, you may still want to stick with your original firm choice university which is absolutely fine.
  • However, you may wish to find out whether any courses with higher entry requirements are available through Adjustment but you must have met and exceeded the terms of your offer.

Where can I go for help?

It is really important to remember that, whatever the situation you find yourself in on results day, you are not alone, there are plenty of people on hand to support you including:

  • Your school or college - even if you do not collect your results in person your school or college will be open for you to call or talk to in person and help you navigate your next steps, or celebrate with you! Make sure you check in advance what time your school/college will be open.
  • Your family - whilst it is important that you contact prospective universities yourself, your family can help you do some research if you provide them with a few guidelines.
  • University websites - you will always find the most up to date vacancy information here so make sure you consult this prior to making any calls.
  • UCAS - there is a lot of information and guidance on the UCAS website for general enquiries and they will also have a helpline for more complex or technical queries.

Tips for navigating Clearing

  • You’ll know you’re in Clearing if your Track status says ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’
  • Always have your UCAS login details to hand and your UCAS I.D.
  • Make sure you know what your results are because you will not be able to discuss appropriate vacancies without this information and universities will not be able to let you know what your results are.
  • Do your research - look at what courses are available and where; ensure you are looking at vacancies for which your grades match the entry requirements.
  • Be open to courses you might not have previously considered but which match your interests and experience.
  • Try not to rush into a decision, whilst the process is time-pressured and you will be given deadlines by which to accept any offers that may be made to you, it is still important to research the course to ensure you understand what it will involve. Make sure you can see yourself studying (and potentially living) there.
  • Make the most of the opportunity to visit universities if available, many universities will hold visit days for students who are made offers through clearing to help you get to know the university and department.
  • There’s no need to panic, you are not alone in the situation and there is plenty of information, guidance and support available to you.

To hear about some of our current students’ experiences of results day take a look at our video above, you’ll see they all had different experiences of the day and survived!

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This video is from the free online course:

Next Steps to University: From Choosing A Course to Your First Assessment

University of York