Top Tips for students on A Level exam results day – Thursday 18 August



Revision is done, the exams are over and now results day is almost here, Thursday, 18 August.

Whatever your grades, Catherine Sezen, from the Association of Colleges, is on hand to help you make sense of your results and make decisions about the future:

Confirm your place: Once you’ve received those all-important results in UCAS Track, make sure you contact the college or university to confirm your place.

Seek out advice: If you haven’t quite got the grades you wanted, don’t panic! There are lots of options out there, including higher apprenticeships and the clearing system. You may be able to re-sit exams or find a different higher education course that is suitable for you.

Be clear about clearing: Even if you’ve got the grades you want, you can still go through clearing to go to a different university or college. If you’re going through clearing, make sure you have everything you need – namely a clearing guide (use the UCAS website or there will be one in most newspapers) and a notebook and pen. You’ll need them for calling universities and colleges to find out what is on offer, depending on your grades. If you have grades above your firm offer, you can use UCAS Adjustment to trade up to another course, university or college.

Consider all the options: If you’ve changed your mind or don’t want to take the academic university route, investigate your local college. They offer technical and professional qualifications at a range of levels such as BTECs at Level 3, advanced apprenticeships and also Foundation Degrees or Higher National Diplomas, for example. These qualifications often include working directly with employers on placements so it can be an excellent experience.

Explore apprenticeships: If you’re looking for a higher education opportunity but without the university tuition fees, it may be possible to find a Higher Apprenticeship. This is a great way to study for a degree level qualification while working in a real workplace environment. Many local and national companies now offer apprenticeships. Colleges can help you find the right one for you and you can search for apprenticeships at

And finally, don’t get disheartened. Whether you have received the grades you wanted or not, there is something out there that is right for you and will help to get you on your chosen career path. Keep calm, look at all your options, do your research and get advice from reliable sources such as careers advisers. There’s also the option of taking a gap year and maybe getting some work experience before going on to further study.

Catherine Sezen is Policy Manager for 14-19 and Curriculum at the Association of Colleges (AoC) which is the membership organisation for colleges in England.

She concludes:

“This may seem like a really scary time as you are moving on to something new and unfamiliar. But stay calm and think carefully about what you want to do. Make sure you have access to information about all the options available, so that you’ll be able to make the best decision for your future. If you’re not sure, speak to your local college, which can advise you on all the options available.”

Further education colleges provide high-quality technical and professional education and training for young people, adults and employers. They provide nearly three million students with valuable employability skills, helping to develop their career opportunities and strengthen the local, regional and national economy.

Colleges are inspirational places to learn because education and training is delivered by expert teaching staff in industry-standard facilities. From basic skills to postgraduate degrees, colleges offer first-rate academic and vocational teaching, in a range of professions including business and finance, engineering, hospitality, IT, construction and the creative arts.