Thousands of anxious students will collect their A-level results tomorrow (August 15).
The outcome of the results could determine the next phase of their lives, which could include university, apprenticeships or work.
Many will already be holding conditional offers for university places, dependent on what their A-level results are.
Others will hope to pursue avenues outside of education, like finding work or taking a year out.
Regardless of what your next steps might be, it’s important to know what to do if your results are worse or better than what you expect.
You might think you only need to ‘cross that bridge when you get there’ but taking the time to do some research ahead of results day will guarantee a less stressful situation.
Look into all the universities that offer the subject you’re interested in beforehand so you have plenty of options to choose from.
Many people who fail to get the results they hoped for can go through clearing, which is organised by UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
This is an application process, which allows universities to fill any spaces they may have on their courses following the results. It means students can find a course to suit them, even if their exam results are not quite as expected.
The number of students who have been accepted through clearing so far this year.
HOW CLEARING WORKS
You can use Clearing find a course at university or college if:
You missed both your firm and insurance offers.
You didn't receive any offers (or any you wanted to accept).
You applied to UCAS after 30 June.
If you haven't applied yet, you need to register and make an application.
You will know you're in clearing if your Track status says 'You are in clearing' or 'clearing has started'. It may take a few hours to update with your exam results.
If you originally only applied for one course (for the reduced fee of £12) you will have to pay an additional £11 to enable you to apply for multiple courses.
PICK UP THE PHONE
Don’t be afraid to talk to a university to see if they have availability in the courses you’re interested in.
It gives you the perfect chance to collate all the information you need before making your choice.
You could also ask about facilities, accommodation, student support, careers support etc.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Don’t be scared to widen your horizons. Even if you have the grades for your first choice, you might spot a course more suited to you or that you are more interested in and you can change your mind.
Clearing isn’t just for those who haven’t got the marks needed. If you pick a course that you love the sound of, chances are you’ll end up loving that university more than your initial choice.
Health and mental well-being is particularly important during stressful times. The more prepared you are the less panicked you’ll feel on the day – and the more likely you are to make a rational and well-informed decision!
OTHER OPTIONS IF YOU DON'T MANAGE TO GET A PLACE
Increasingly, many students are opting for apprenticeships to help gain necessary skills and experience for many careers.
The National Apprenticeship Service has over 22,000 vacancies online.
COULD A GAP YEAR BE FOR YOU?
This could provide the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences while you consider what to do next
Study for other qualifications to meet entry requirements for your desired course.
Studential.com has information on clearing, gap years, apprenticeships and more
Prospects offers career advice and job and course opportunities to students.
You can find finance and support advice on the UCAS website.
Cari Davies, Jonty Messer and Alex Beresford discuss their unexpected A level results: