A-levels: What is clearing and what to do if you didn't get the grades you wanted

Credit: PA

By Elaine McCallig, ITV News Digital Content Producer

Hundreds of thousands of A-level students received their results on Thursday morning.

The proportion of students receiving top grades is down on last year, but remains above pre-pandemic levels.

Some one in four (27.2%) were awarded an A or A* grade, down by 9.2 percentage points on last year when 36.4% achieved the top grades.It comes after Covid-19 led to an increase in top grades in 2020 and 2021, with results based on teacher assessments instead of exams.

Now the results are out, lots of options remain open to students who didn't quite get the grades they hoped for and for those who are unsure of what to do next.

What do I do if I didn't get the grades I hoped for?

It might feel frightening, but there are lots of options available.

Even if you did not get the grades you hoped for, your university or college might still offer you a place.

The first step is to talk to your school or college, and to your preferred university, as they may be able to offer you some flexibility.

This year, more than 19,000 18-year-old applicants who missed the conditions of their university offer are now eligible to find places in clearing.

What is clearing?Clearing is how universities and college fill any spaces they have left on their courses.

It is available to students who do not meet the conditions of their offer on A-level results day, as well as those who did not receive any offers.

Students who have changed their mind about what or where they wish to study, and also those who have applied outside the normal application window, can also use the clearing process through Ucas.

Applicants will be able to add a clearing choice from 1pm on A-level results day.

Clare Marchant, Ucas chief executive, said there is "plenty of choice" in clearing, with nearly 29,000 courses and 8,000 apprenticeships currently available.

Ms Marchant said Ucas has a team of advisors providing students with expert information, advice and guidance on the phones, social media, and on the website.

Clearing applications can be made on Ucas.com.

Psychology lecturer and admissions tutor Dr Rachael Molitor told ITV News Central that clearing is a key path to consider if you do not get the result you had been hoping for

I think my results are wrong

If you think there has been a mistake in how your exam was marked, you should speak to your school or college who can request a review from the exam board.

The Department for Education advises not requesting a review unless you think there has been an error, or you could risk missing out on other options. Your school or college can advise if appealing is the right course of action for you.

If there are still concerns following the review, students can ask their school or college to appeal the result.

Can I resit my exams?

Yes, students can enter for all A-level subjects in 2024.

If you would like to retake the exams, chat to your school or college.

Credit: PA

What other options do I have?

If you have a particular career in mind and fancy getting some hands-on experience, apprenticeships are available on the government website.

If you would like to get a qualification that leads to a job, but prefer to learn in the classroom, HTQs (higher technical qualifications) are also an option.

You can also defer your studies if you're not quite ready for university. Most universities will hold your place for a year if you have met all the conditions for entry, but you should let your university know immediately.

I don't know what to do

It's good to chat to your school or college to discuss your options if you're feeling lost.

Friends and family can also be a good source of support to bounce ideas off.

It can be very useful to speak to an expert, though.

You can speak to a professional career adviser for free and get judgment-free confidential advice from the National Careers Service Exam Results helpline by picking up the phone or by webchat.

If you're worried or stressed out, it might help to talk to someone you trust.

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