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A Level Results: What If Your Grades Aren’t Enough?

Posted by: Jo Carter - 15 May 2018 - MPW Group - Read time: 5 mintues

A level results day is in August each year. For many students this will be a great day when they get confirmation that all of their hard work has been worth it, and they have attained the target grades required for their first choice university. However, for those who didn’t do as well as they had hoped, it can be a very different experience. If your results are not what you expected, it is important to have a clear understanding of the different options which are available to you moving forward.

Firstly, this is not a disaster. Disappointment is natural but this situation is by no means unworkable. There are a number of routes to explore and it is great if you can see this as a new opportunity. Here are our top tips on what to do if you haven’t achieved the grades you were hoping for:

Get some advice

You are not alone in this situation and there are a number of places you can turn to for expert, practical advice. The exact circumstances of your university offers and your grades will be different to anyone else’s, so try to get some specialist, personalised guidance.

Firstly, you can try contacting the university which you had an offer for originally. If you’ve achieved close to the conditions of your firm offer then they might still be able to offer you a place. Universities are not filling places quite as easily as they were in years gone by so many academics feel that they might be more flexible in their rules around admission offers and grades criteria than they have been in the past.

If you do not meet your university offers and there is no flexibility on this, you can try calling the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000. Many students turn to them on results day, and they have a team of expert advisors who can talk you through your different options however unexpected your results may be.

Explore some alternative options

The most popular fall-back option for students who didn’t hit their target grades is to try and find an alternative university place through Clearing. By this time of year, university places available for the upcoming academic session are limited, so if you want to pursue Clearing then you will need to move quickly. Many students begin making calls as soon as they receive their results.

Ideally, you should be thinking about Clearing in advance of your A level results so that you are prepared if it is something you decide to pursue. This would mean having some back up options prepared, so that you know which universities and courses you would be interested in considering if they happen to be available through Clearing.

Students in this situation should also consider exploring other options such as sponsored degrees. Many major companies now offer sponsored degree options which mean you can gain valuable workplace experience while also studying towards a degree without accumulating mountains of student loan debt. As well as gaining good experience, and a relevant degree, many of these arrangements can also lead to a full time graduate job with the company following the completion of your studies.

Retake your A levels

We know how devastating it can be to miss out on the results required by your first choice degree at your first choice university. However it is important to be wary of accepting second best by rushing into Clearing and picking a degree or university that you might not enjoy. You might end up dropping out and if you do complete you may regret ‘settling’ when you could have pushed for more. Staying true to your ambitions and retaking your A levels can be the best long term solution.

Retaking your A levels comes with some major positives. The main one being that you have time to plan ahead, study extra hard and potentially get grades which exceed even your initial expectations. In addition to this studying at a college rather than a school can often teach you new skills and better ways of managing your time independently thus preparing you for life at university. You will also be giving yourself an extra year to mature before entering university; many students find the extra maturity gained during this year can be hugely beneficial in making sure they are ready to balance university work and social life with responsibility. Depending on your choice of retake course, you may also have the time for a short ‘gap year’. Students in the past have worked ski seasons, volunteered abroad, dedicated more time to their band, or anything else they were interested in. Your new personal statement is likely to be richer and you will go to university with more life experience behind you.

MPW offers A level retakes in London, Birmingham and Cambridge. If you are considering retaking A level retakes, contact us to discuss the different options available to you.