If you’re reading this, it’s probably because your A Level results aren’t as good as you had hoped. It’s hard to take and, after such a long, stressful wait, you’re bound to feel massively disappointed. But it’s not over yet.
The government have put certain special arrangements in place, which they have called a ‘triple lock’. These are:
1. Accept the result.
2. Use your mock exam results instead – but you must ask your school to pursue this.
3. Re-sit in the autumn.
Let’s unravel what each option might mean:
Option 1: Accept the result
Why, you might ask, would anyone do this if there are other options? But if you were holding a university offer (or two offers) what do they say about your results? Universities have stated they will be flexible, and you might find they will still offer you a place.
Log into UCAS Track, check your status and, if the university hasn’t made a decision yet, then pick up the phone and speak to them. (Be prepared to wait as help lines will be busy). You might be in a stronger position than you think and here’s why: Universities want to fill their places.
Universities want students who will succeed on their course – which is why they look at your grades – but they also want people who will stay. They like it if you can show commitment and, if you have already applied to that university and made them your first (or second) choice then you have already demonstrated this in spades. That gives you a head start so make the most of it. Describe what led you to choose them – the research, the open days, the discussions with staff and students.
If you have been turned down, the positive thing is that you’re in Clearing early and can take advantage of any places that are still available. Get onto the UCAS website and start looking.
Option 2: Use your mock exam results
If you’re thinking about this option, then presumably your mock grades are higher than your results. However, this isn’t a straightforward process. You must ask your school to appeal on your behalf and they will have to show that the exams were taken under approved conditions. So, there are two warnings:
1. You can’t be certain yet that your mock grades will be approved.
2. It’s going to take a bit of time.
Universities have been asked to hold places if students are appealing but, while you’re waiting, Clearing will be happening. If it turns out that your mock grades aren’t acceptable and the university still turn you down, then you could have missed out on a place somewhere else.
Option 3: Re-sit
The third option in the ‘triple lock’ is to re-sit any subjects you’re not happy with in the autumn. There’s a further safety net in that you can then use whichever result is higher as your official grade.
Again, there are issues around time. The exam boards are only just beginning to announce the schedules but Ofqual has estimated that the results for A Level re-sits should be published before Christmas and GCSE re-sit results in January or February 2021. In most cases, terms will have started by this point. Universities have said they will try and be flexible but, as things stand right now, there’s a high chance that this option would involve applying to university again for 2021 with your new grades.
What do you do?
This must be your decision and yours alone. There isn’t a solution that suits everyone. But here are our top three tips.
1. Find out as much as you can, so that your decision is well informed.
Talk to your school and ask how confident they are that the mock grades will be approved. (They won’t know for sure – they’ll still be waiting for clarification.)
Talk with the university concerned – what are the minimum grades they will accept? Have a look in Clearing – are there other courses that interest you?
2. Tell the universities concerned if you are appealing or planning to re-sit and keep them in the picture.
3. Think about what matters most to you. How much do you want to do this course at this university? If necessary, would you be prepared to wait and reapply for a place in 2021? Or would you be equally happy studying somewhere else?
As we said at the beginning, it’s not over yet! All the signs are that Clearing could go on for longer than usual this summer because universities are likely to be holding places pending appeals. Courses may well fill up and then offer places again. There will be twists and turns along the way so keep going and good luck!
For more help
Sheffield Futures Results Helpline: Thursday 13th August, 1.00-4.00pm and
Friday 14th August, 10.00-4.00pm. 0114 201 6644
The National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline: 0800 100 900
UCAS Clearing: www.ucas.com