What to do if your A-level or As-level results are not what you expected

Thousands across the province will receive their grades today and may be filled with trepidation about securing their chosen university place. UCAS clearing allows you to search through all universities and colleges at which places on various courses for those with lower grades are still available to be snapped up
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More than 25,000 pupils across Northern Ireland will receive their A-level and AS-level results today (Thursday).

Most will be waiting to find out if they have been accepted onto their chosen course or apprenticeship at their chosen university or college, while some will be considering an immediate shift to the workplace.

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But what to do if your results are not as overwhelmingly excellent as you had hoped, leaving your plans in abeyance?

Many will be jubilant receiving their A-level and AS-level results today (Thursday, August 18). However others will be disappointed and should avail of the UCAS clearing serviceMany will be jubilant receiving their A-level and AS-level results today (Thursday, August 18). However others will be disappointed and should avail of the UCAS clearing service
Many will be jubilant receiving their A-level and AS-level results today (Thursday, August 18). However others will be disappointed and should avail of the UCAS clearing service

First of all, don’t panic.

Contact your chosen university or college as sometimes, depending on an interview process if there was one, or an entrance exam, they may still choose to accept you even if your grades were beneath those required, so it is always worth checking.

Failing this, UCAS clearing allows you to search through all the universities and colleges at which places on various courses for those with lower grades are still available to be snapped up.

You will receive your Clearing number from Ucas Track, and need to note it down as you’ll be asked for it by universities when you express an interest in a course.

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The Ucas website will have an official list of what is available, so have a good look through and see what appeals before rushing into a decision.

When you have a shortlist together, give the universities a call – they are most likely to give you an informal offer over the phone, and you can speak to a number of unis before making your choice.

The Ucas Track online service, for which you will need your personal ID and password which was used when applying in order to gain access, typically opens between 8am and 8.30am on results day, after being frozen in the days leading up to it.

Ucas advises that if your offer hasn’t been changed to “unconditional” when you log in to Track, then wait until you’ve received your grades before calling them or the university.

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If you do’t get an unconditional offer for your preferred course having achieved the required grades, consider that you are not alone.

The Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham said there could be 80,000 fewer top A-level grades awarded this year UK-wide than in 2021.

This means some 40,000 students across the UK could miss out on their course or university of choice.

This is in spite of the fact that examiners were asked to grade papers more leniently than in previous, pre-pandemic years, to compensate for the disruption Covid has had on pupils’ learning.

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Grade boundaries could be relaxed in some cases, with a lower score across papers needed to secure a particular grade, but markers’ generosity could also be more far-reaching.

Ucas has insisted it expects either a record or near-record level of students will get their first choice, but acknowledged universities have been cautious in making offers this year and support for students will be needed.