A Level students across the UK will be receiving their results today: but what if things didn’t quite go to plan? We asked the team at top London exam tutor agency Titanium Tutors to provide a low-down on your options.

It’s summer now, and the sun is well and truly out!

You’ve studied hard, sat your exams, and another school year is over – this all means that it’s time to relax, have a bit of fun, and sip an ice tea by the pool on the Costa del Sol. There is one day during the holidays that you might be a bit anxious about, though: results day.

If you’ve worked hard and tried your best, there’s every chance you’ve done well. But it’s only natural to worry about your results. We want to put your mind at ease – you’ve got bad A Level results and are wondering what you should do about it, you really don’t have to be too upset, as there are plenty of options available to you!

Option 1: Clearing

Firstly, you can apply to university courses via clearing. Clearing is how universities and other higher education centres fill the places they have remaining on their courses, and it’s a great method to find an alternative university course. Clearing opens on UCAS after the original UCAS deadline on 30th June, and can be used from the 5th July to 23rd October. You can used Clearing if you:

  • Haven’t applied through UCAS by 30th June
  • Didn’t receive any offers when you applied through UCAS originally
  • Didn’t meet the conditions of your offer
  • You’ve changed your mind about your ‘firm choice’ of uni and want to decline the offer

The status of your UCAS application will change to “Clearing” if the above applies to your existing 2019-2020 application. If you haven’t applied yet, you just need to register on the UCAS website. When in Clearing, you’ll be able to access a database of courses with vacancies which you can use to contact universities and colleges. Once you’ve found a clearing course that you like (it doesn’t have to be in the same subject you originally applied for!) you need to contact the university and see if they would accept you – they may even reconsider your application if you applied earlier in the year but didn’t make the course your firm choice.

This way, you can get informal offers over the phone, and then decide which one you’d like to take up. If you get an informal offer, you can add the choice on UCAS Track, which will count as you officially accepting the offer from the university! So, all is not lost – you can still get to uni in September, even if you’ve left it until Summer, or if you miss your offer!

Option 2: Gap Year

Maybe, if you’ve missed an offer for university, you don’t want to jump straight into a different university course.

That’s completely understandable, too.

The good news is that you don’t have to go straight to university after school. You can always take a gap year instead, the benefits of which can be huge: depending on what you get up to you might learn how to budget, widen your awareness of other cultures, learn new skills or even become more confident and independent. Some people work on their gap years to earn a bit of money, whereas others travel to get more experience of the wider world.

Whatever happens, if you do decide to re-sit your A Levels and re-apply for university entry the following year, you’ll show up on the first day a newer, more experienced person!

Option 3: Why not directly enter the workplace?

Bad A Level results don’t necessarily mean bad career prospects.

By entering the workplace early you’ll be able to save money, start networking, and develop your work ethic earlier than your peers. And there are lots of such opportunities available – many companies offer school leaver programmes, such as the Metropolitan Police, Standard Life or Thames Water.

And what’s more, you’ll save a packet on all those university tuition fees!

If that doesn’t make you feel better, then just think of all the hugely successful people who didn’t do too well in school but still managed to get ahead:

  • Jon Snow – the presenter at Channel 4 News didn’t do great in school. The first time he sat his A Levels he got one fail (Geography) and one C (English), before getting a D and an E in Economics and Law the second time around. He went to an admissions service after that, and got a place to study law through the then-equivalent of Clearing.
  • Richard Branson – the owner and founder of the Virgin Group doesn’t have any A Levels at all! He dropped out of school at 16 to founded his own magazine. Now the Virgin Group controls more than 400 companies.
  • Clare Balding – famous broadcaster Clare wanted to get into Oxbridge when she sat her A Levels, but she just missed the mark. So she took 2 years out, resat her A Levels, and then got into Cambridge!
  • Sarah Millican – this panel show favourite and stand-up comedian got a D and an E in her A Levels. That hasn’t stopped her appearing on Live at the Apollo!

So, try not to worry – whatever happens on results day, you’ll be OK in the end!

Check out more great study advice on the Titanium Tutors blog, based on their experience helping tens of thousands of students achieve the results of their dreams through lessons in London, across the UK and online, in over 200 subjects for all ages and levels.

William Wadsworth
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