Results day is often an exciting day for prospective university students, however, it’s also a nerve-wracking one too. The anticipation and excitement that comes with preparing for university is often impeded by the tension of results day, and the harrowing prospects of not getting the results you need. However, if you do find yourself in this situation there are plenty of alternative options you can take. Read on to learn more.
Dealing with the stress of results day
Results day can be stressful as there are often pressures from family, friends and college advisors for you to do well. Whilst this is all in good faith, it means that the tension is a little heightened around results day. Therefore, it’s important to take some time for yourself and make sure there are measures in place to help prevent unnecessary stress. Below are a few tools that you can use to help you deal with the stress of results day:
- Mindfulness and meditation apps such as Calm
- Getting better quality sleep - avoid caffeine, alcohol and blue light exposure before bed
- Give yourself some free time for fun - take a few days off from your part-time job to do the things you enjoy
What actually happens on results day?
If you’ve got older siblings who have been through the university process, it’s likely that you’ll have a rough idea of what happens on results day, but there are many people out there who have no idea of what to expect - which is the position I was in exactly 4 years ago! If this sounds like you - don’t worry - I’ve broken down the results day process below.
During the university application process, UCAS and their online ‘Track’ system will be your best friend.
On results day, you’ll have to log in to the UCAS Track system to find out whether you’ve got the right grades for your first or second (also known as firm or insurance) choice of university and your subsequent offer.
Therefore, on results day make sure you’ve got your Track details to hand, so you can find out whether your application(s) were successful.
Conditional vs unconditional offers
A conditional offer is one that is dependent on your A-level results, therefore, you will only get a place on that course if you achieve the required grades. Whereas, an unconditional offer is one that means that you will get a place on the course regardless of the grades you achieve at A-level.
An unconditional offer can take a lot of the stress out of results day because it means that your place at university is guaranteed no matter what. However, if you do choose to accept an unconditional offer it’s crucial to make sure that the university meets the same requirements as your firm choice. For example, will it provide the best student satisfaction? Is the cost of living high? Will I enjoy living in this city for 3-4 years? Is this the right course for me?
Asking yourself these questions will help you determine whether accepting your unconditional offer is the right choice for your future.
What to do if you get your first choice?
First of all, congratulate yourself! The A-level and university application process is a long and strenuous one, and getting a place means that all the hard work has paid off.
You can expect to see a 'congratulations' message in UCAS track, and all you’ll need to do is wait for your confirmation letter or email and start getting ready to attend that university in September!
What to do if you don't get your first choice?
If your A-level results aren’t quite the enough to meet the requirements of your firm (first) university choice, then it’s likely that you’ll get an offer from your insurance (second) university choice instead. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your first and second choices are options that are as equally desirable as each other.
Note: Sometimes you’ll get a ‘changed course offer’ via UCAS if you don’t meet the requirements of your firm choice. This means that the same university has chosen to offer you a place on a different course, if you choose to accept it.
What to do if you don't get your second choice?
First of all, don’t panic! Panicking can lead you to make hasty decisions which can be detrimental at this time. Make sure you take the time to consider your alternative options and speak to your college or sixth form advisors before making any rash decisions.
The clearing process
If you find yourself going through the clearing process, it’s important not to be disheartened and discredit your hard work. This is a process that thousands of students go through each year to get a place at university, and it doesn’t mean that you didn’t ‘earn’ your place.
The clearing process is simply in place to give you a helping hand if your results day didn’t go to plan and provide alternative options for those who need it.
I remember there being a lot of confusion around clearing when I went to university, and no-one really knew how to use it or access it.
Essentially, it helps to match universities trying to fill places with students who are looking for university places. Simple, right? All you need to do is visit the UCAS university course finder after getting your A-level results (you can’t go through the clearing process without them), and start looking for courses that suit your needs.
If you have a few potential options it’s also worth ringing the universities’ dedicated clearing departments to see if they will accept you based on your grades or UCAS points. You’ll need to get an informal offer over the phone before putting through your clearing choice on UCAS, as once the choice goes through UCAS Track, this counts as accepting your offer.
Retaking A-level subjects
If you missed out on getting into the university of your dreams, you also have the option to retake your A-level exam(s). However, due to the linear A-level specifications you will have to wait an extra year to sit the exam and find out your new results.
If you’re confident that you can improve on your current results and there are no alternative courses you wish to pursue, resitting can be a viable option. However, it’s also worth considering whether your chosen university accepts retakes, as this is a no-go for some competitive courses such as law. You can do this by calling the university’s admissions department to see if they will accept resits.
Summary - Everything you need to know about results day
Here’s a quick summary of everything you need to know about results day 2019.
- You will find out whether you have got a place on your firm or insurance course choice via UCAS track - in many cases you will find this out before you actually get your A-level grades.
- You will go to your college or sixth form to get your A-level results.
- If you have missed the grades for your firm or insurance course choices, you can go through the clearing process.
- Search via the UCAS website to find out which courses are available through clearing.
- Call the universities’ admissions departments to see whether they will accept you before putting your choice through UCAS track - you will need your clearing number and A-level grades for this.
- Once you’ve received an informal offer over the phone, put your choice through UCAS track - this counts as firmly accepting your offer, and means that you will be attending the university once the offer goes through.