A-level results – what now? The good, the bad and the cold feet

A-level results – what now? The good, the bad and the cold feet

13th August 2019

Author: icould.com

A-level results what now?

Unsure about what next? If you've done better or worse than expected or are just having second thoughts, here's our quick guide to your options on or after results day.


Clearing is the process which matches unfilled university places with students. If you don’t make your grades you can often get onto a different course. Try and get to grips with the Clearing process beforehand so you’re on the front foot when Clearing opens. Don’t worry if you come to Clearing fresh on results day but do take some time to read through the information before diving straight in.

See the UCAS Clearing FAQs for more details.


If you’ve done much better than expected you can always look for an alternative course. This process is called Adjustment.  If you try Adjustment but you don’t find anything you prefer, you’ll still keep the place you gained on results day.

See UCAS Adjustment for more information.

Consider a gap year

Not got the results you wanted? Done much better than expected? Or had a change of heart about your chosen course? A gap year might be the answer. Taking some time away from education can give you breathing space to think about what you really want, try new things and take stock. You might find the fresh perspective from traveling, volunteering, a few months of work or all three, sets you on a more fitting path than continuing your studies straight from A-levels. And a gap year can be a lot of fun too.

Find out about retakes

If you didn’t give your studies your best shot and feel you could do much better a second time round, then find out about retakes. You may be able to repeat a year at your existing school or college, or find this option is offered by other colleges in your area. Look into evening or remote learning courses. It’s often possible to combine your retakes with a part-time job or work experience, potentially giving you an advantage further down the line.

Explore alternatives to university

Schools and colleges are often geared up to help you apply to university but don’t always have the same level of support for other options. Exploring alternatives can take a little more detective work. Take a look at higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships which offer pathways to careers more traditionally followed by graduates. And investigate other courses, training schemes and job vacancies. You might find a route that suits you much better than the standard university option.

Speak to a careers adviser or check out sites such as Not Going to Uni for more information on different choices.

Deferred entry

Some universities allow you to defer your university place after exam results. So if you’ve got the grades you need but now feel you want to take a year out before starting your course, contact the university direct to see if this might be possible. You will need to explain the reasons for your late request (the standard time to apply for deferred entry is with your application) and it is not always an option. Alternatively, you can decide not to accept your place this year and can apply again to start next year (but there’s no guarantee you will get the same offers).

UCAS has more details on deferring entry after exam results.

Find out more

Eight questions to help decide if university is your next step

Video: Disappointing A-level results – you can often still get to where you want to be, but it might mean taking a different route to get there. In this video people share their own experiences of what happened when they didn’t get the grades they wanted.

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