You've finished your A levels, school's out, and all you can do now is countdown to results day on 18th August, right? Wrong!
Every year on the Exam Results Helpline we deal with hundreds of students' queries. Each student's circumstances are of course unique, and many of the questions fall under three main headings:
- my exam results aren't as good as I wanted
- my exam results are better than I had expected
- I got the grades, I have a place waiting for me, but I'm no longer sure that I want to take it up
Imagine yourself in each of these situations: do you have a plan B for in case you don't achieve the grades required first time around? What do you know about UCAS Clearing? Have you researched gap years, and retakes, and other further and higher education courses such as foundation degrees and BTEC qualifications?
Some decisions need making in the hours after your results are out – so if you do some research now it could give you a decisive headstart on others in your situation.
What about if you do better than everyone expected? Happy dilemma - but it is still a dilemma! Of course you can continue with your previous plans - you have exceeded the requirements of your offers - so would you choose to do this? Or might you now be interested in UCAS Extra or Adjustment? Or even a previously-unconsidered gap year, to give yourself more time to reflect on your options?
If you do better than expected it’s often a natural reaction to wonder if you should change your choice of university to one that was previously unavailable to you, in which case you would need to use Adjustment. In this situation I often advise people to reflect on the amount of time taken to decide on their university and the reasons they have chosen it. It may not be wise suddenly to go somewhere else simply based on the higher grades that are required. If you find yourself in this position, it is something I would strongly recommend for you to talk to us about.
It’s also good to remember that if used constructively a gap year can be a great way of getting some much needed work experience to ‘test out’ your chosen career which is great to have on your CV or to simply research universities and make sure your 100% sure on your university choice. If a university rejects you, they may reconsider if you take a year out to get some relevant experience and reapply the following year.
In all of these situations, time spent researching and discussing your thoughts, plans and fears with your family, your teachers and your careers adviser is likely to be time well spent.
The Exam Results Helpline will be open at 08:00 on Thursday 18 August to back-up your planning with expert, impartial advice on Clearing, Adjustment, apprenticeships, retakes, gap years, alternatives to higher education and any other options you'd like to know more about.
Give us a call on 0808 100 8000 – and whatever you decide to do, good luck.