Sheffield Futures
Sheffield Futures
Sheffield Futures
Sheffield Futures
Sheffield Futures
Sheffield Futures

A-Level Results 2021 – What you need to know

Tuesday 10th August is A Level results day. It’s been an anxious wait but stay calm and read on, we’ve got it covered!  

What’s your top tip for results day?
That’s easy: make a plan! You might be stressed on the day so do as much as you can beforehand: 

  • Keep the day free.
    If you need to contact universities, they will only be able to speak with you (unless you’ve nominated someone to act on your behalf). If you’ve applied to university, look up your UCAS Track login.
    You’ll need it to sign in and check if your place has been confirmed.
  • Make a list of all the things that might happen, e.g.
    What if you don’t get the grades you need?
    What if you do better than expected?
    What if you’ve changed your mind?
  • Prepare an action plan for each situation:
    Search on UCAS for courses with vacancies.
    Check out these courses and prepare a shortlist.
    Make a note of university helpline numbers (published on their websites).  

Your results

How do I get my results?
From your school or college. The arrangements for collecting them may vary so check on their websites.

Remind me how they’ve worked out my grades.
They were assessed by your teachers / tutors. 

Will the grades look any different?
No, they will look the same as any other year. 

What if I’m not happy with my grades?
Speak to your teachers first as they can check if their procedures were followed correctly. If you’re still not satisfied, you have a right to appeal to the exam board. Normally the school must do this on your behalf.
If you appeal, bear in mind that:  

  • Your grade could go up, down or stay the same. 
  • You need to keep the university informed if you have a conditional offer. If a first-choice place is at stake, the appeal can be prioritised if submitted by 23rd August. 
  • The deadline for submitting all appeals is 17th September. Schools and colleges may set an earlier deadline so check this with them. 

Another option is to re-sit. There will be re-sit exams in the autumn for all A Level, GCSE and certain AS subjects.  

What if I re-sit and get a lower grade?
Don’t worry, if that happens, the higher grade will be the one that stands. 

When are re-sits happening?
A Level / AS Level re-sits are in October and GCSEs in November-December. Exam boards are responsible for arranging them so check their websites for the dates.   

Would I get the re-sit result in time to start university this year?
It will be the university’s decision so speak to them as soon as possible.  

What about results for vocational qualifications?
For qualifications such as BTEC or OCR Cambridge Technicals (that prepare for further or higher education rather than assess specific job skills) your results will be based on teachers’ / tutors’ assessments. They will be issued either at the same time as A Levels (10th August) / GCSEs (12th August) or earlier.  

If the qualification is in a specific job (e.g. plumbing) then it will depend on whether you’ve been able to take the practical assessments. Check with your tutors or here.

Higher education and Clearing 

I’ve got a conditional offer for university. What happens when I get my grades?’
If you get the grades you needed, you’re in! Log into UCAS Track and it will confirm your place. 

If you don’t get the grades stay calm, log into Track and check your status. The university may still take you, especially if you’ve only narrowly missed the grades.   

The university may make you a ‘Changed course offer’, such as a foundation year. You can accept or decline this so check it out first. 

If Track says your firm (first) choice has turned you down, but you have met your insurance grades, then your place will be confirmed there. 

If Track hasn’t been updated, ring the university admissions department. Helplines should be open from early morning. This is your chance to tell them how much you want to study there. You’ve already applied for that course which shows your commitment, so you can make a good case for yourself. Tell them if you plan to appeal your grades.     

If Track says you’re in Clearing it means both your firm and insurance choices have turned you down. Again, keep calm – there are still courses with vacancies and universities want to fill them. You need to keep a clear head but also move quickly.  

How does Clearing work?
All the information is on UCAS but briefly the process is: 

  • Use the Clearing search tool to find courses with vacancies. 
  • There is an optional service called ‘Clearing Plus’ which will suggest courses based on information in your application. 
  • Check out the course(s). 
  • Ring the university / college and ask them to consider you.  

What should I say when I ring the university?
Let’s take a step back first!  Make sure you’ve looked into the course before phoning.  

Phone lines may be busy so be prepared to wait. When you get through, state your Clearing number (which will be on Track) and UCAS ID. Be ready for a few questions, e.g. why you want that course / university. The aim is to get an informal offer.  

Find out if there’s an open event or a virtual tour and ask about accommodation.    

Once you are sure you want the place, and the university has given you the go ahead,   add it to UCAS Track as a Clearing choice.   

What if I get the grades I needed but I’ve changed my mind?
If you’ve exceeded your offer, (e.g. achieved AAA when you needed AAB) you can use UCAS Adjustment to apply for other courses without having to first give up your place. 

If you don’t qualify for Adjustment, you can still use Clearing but you must turn down your place first. If you’re sure you want to do this, select ‘Decline my place’ on Track.  

I didn’t apply for university – is there still time?
Yes, if you haven’t applied (or if you applied but aren’t holding any offers), you can use Clearing from 5th July.  

What will it be like at university this autumn?
Much will depend on whether restrictions remain lifted, but broadly speaking there may be a mix of face to face and online teaching (called ‘blended learning’). Your university should tell you more, including arrangements in student halls and on campus.  

I’m not sure I want to start university right now. Will they hold the place?
You need to ask the university. If your place is for this autumn, they are not obliged to hold it, in which case you would have to withdraw and re-apply for 2022. 

Any other tips?
Hang on in there and don’t give up if you don’t find a place straight away! 

Other options 

What can I do if I take a gap year? 
Good question! You need to use the time positively, partly for your own wellbeing, but also to support your UCAS application for next year. Start by getting ideas from websites such as UCAS and Not Going to Uni

Bear in mind that some overseas travel is still restricted and that the job market, although recovering, is still unstable. Check out the Kickstart programme for unemployed young people claiming Universal Credit.

Your community might need volunteers – use:   

‘What about apprenticeships?’
Apprenticeships are paid jobs with training – some lead to a degree with your fees paid! Visit: and search  for vacancies here 

Inspire_SY run an ‘Opportunity hour’ every Thursday, 1-2pm. You can find out more here.

Find out more 

For more help
The National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline: 0800 100 900
UCAS Clearing:
Sheffield Community Youth Teams run a helpline for young people looking for apprenticeships, training or help with exam results:
0114 273 4462 Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm or email: [email protected]

Remember to look after yourself. If the stress is getting to you, check out our wellbeing services follow us on Instagram or email: [email protected] 

Good luck!