How to Navigate A-Level Results Day

After years of routine, structure and work towards timetabled, regimented exams, A-Level results day seems like absolute chaos.

The online services slow down and freeze under the strain, people frantically try to contact their chosen university to confirm whether or not they have a place, and many find themselves calling clearing afterwards in a state of shock.

This does not have to be you. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the madness of results day, to find out about your course as easily as possible and to know what to do next once you’ve found out.

Have everything ready

Have your UCAS Track login details ready, preferably written down somewhere to avoid forgetting them at the worst possible moment (that happens). Make sure to keep your university’s contact details, your mobile phone and a pen and paper close at hand too, as they’ll all come in handy in the next few hours. Make sure you are available to contact, and update your contact information if necessary – you don’t want to be impossible to reach!

What time will UCAS track update?

8am, and not a moment sooner. UCAS track does NOT update at midnight, at 6am, or any time before 8am. So there’s no use stressing over it or keeping yourself awake all night, you’ll only be more easily stressed when it counts the next day!

What to do next

At this point you have several possible plans to choose from:

1. You got the grades and have been accepted onto your course

Congratulations! Go celebrate.

2. You just missed your grades

Get in touch with the university and ask them about accepting you anyway – if you just missed the entrance grades they may take you regardless. They may also offer you an alternative course (a ‘changed course offer’) which you will have to accept or decline in UCAS track or over the phone.

3. You have not been accepted to your course

This is absolutely not the end of the line. You can apply to thousands of courses through clearing, have your exams re-marked, resit an exam, or even take a year out and reapply next year. Decide which option is best for you, and then get on it! It may benefit you far more to resit the missed exams and pursue your original choice of university, or you may have much more success applying to a course through clearing. If you decide on an exam remark, let your university know as soon as possible and keep them up to date as the process continues.

4. You have exceeded your course requirements and wish you could ‘trade up’

You can! If you have done much better than the entry requirements for your course and are interested in pursuing a better offer, you can apply through UCAS’ ‘adjustment’ service. This service allows overachievers to apply for a more prestigious course or a better university that they had not previously been considered for or predicted to achieve.

UCAS Clearing

Thousands of students will choose to jump into clearing to look for a place on Results Day, having missed their original choices. Practically every university has clearing places available, and many good courses are available through clearing. Your UCAS Track status should read “You are in Clearing” or “Clearing has started”. You will be able to find your Clearing Number there, and should write it down along with your personal ID number, your results and their UCAS points value, to have all necessary information right to hand before you need it.

Once you’ve called the clearing lines, you will first speak to a clearing line operator, who’ll pass you through to your course coordinator if you meet the requirements of the course. The course coordinator will then essentially give you a mini-interview to make sure you’re a good fit for them, and make you an informal offer of a place over the phone. This informal offer usually stands for 24 hours, so you don’t have to rush your decision and can continue to look for better offers if you like. If you contact multiple universities, make sure to take notes so as not to get the multiple conversations confused!

Once you are sure you want to accept the offer, add your clearing choice on UCAS Track. In 2013, 57,000 students got university places through clearing, so you aren’t on your own!