From education to employment

The Student Room helps to alleviate concerns as Results Day looms and millions of educational pathways hang in the balance

student on a laptop

In a poll published by @thestudentroom and attracting over 1,000 responses, over 60% of students felt unsure or worried in the run up to A-Level and GCSE Results Day – with only 10% feeling very confident.  This may come as no surprise given the ambiguity over the last few months around how grades will be awarded, as well the concerns over possible downgrading from the regulating board Ofqual and some confusion over the process to appeal.

One TSR community member commented  “Honestly my stomach plummets just thinking about it, I feel so sick. I don’t want to have to go through veterinary admissions again, and if I take the autumn exams and don’t get the grades I need- it’s going to be a big knock on effect for a few years of my life.”

To help alleviate some of the uncertainties, The Student Room have created a practical guide of do’s & don’t’s, helping students to more easily navigate their next steps on Results Day.

What if I’m not sure what Results Day will be like?

Do… get prepared in advance. Results Day can have both massive highs and massive lows, so getting prepped for both means you will feel ready for all eventualities. It’s a good idea to look into Clearing spaces online beforehand and get an idea of your back up plan if things don’t go the way you wanted and make a shortlist. On the day, make sure you have with you your grades, UCAS number, a fully charged phone and your prepped list of universities and courses you are interested in. The cancellation of exams this year means that things feel a little more unknown this year, so this prep will help keep nerves in check.

What if I need help or support on the day?

Do… check with your school/teachers what support will be available on Results Day, both in-person (if they’re able to) and virtually. If you find yourself in a situation you were not expecting, it’s good to know in advance who you can speak to about your options and how you can get in contact with them. With the pandemic limiting face to face options, it can feel isolating if things go wrong and you’re on your own. We also have UCAS trained volunteer advisors at  who will be on site all day, supporting students with any questions or concerns relating to grading, results and clearing.

What if I just miss my grades?

Don’t… lose hope just yet. It may be that your firm choice university has decided to accept you with the grades you have, in which case you need to check UCAS Track, which will be available from 8am on the day. You may have missed your offer for your firm choice but your insurance choice has accepted you, which will then show up as ‘unconditional’ in Track. Your firm or insurance choice also may accept you onto a different course to the one you applied for, so make sure you double check this information when reviewing your place. If neither your firm or insurance choice has accepted you, you will be placed in Clearing.

What if I am in Clearing?

Do… think carefully about what you want and where you feel comfortable going. Clearing is a UCAS tool which allows those who do not have a place to get one. It’s a good idea to take some time to do some research if you haven’t already and make use of Clearing Plus – UCAS’s new matching tool to help match applicants to courses with spaces. You can use it to register your interest in courses that you like the look of, and the university will contact you if they still have spaces available. If you really like the look of a course, always follow up by registering your interest with a call to the university, as spaces can move quickly.

What if I can’t get through to anyone on the phone? 

Don’t… just give up. Clearing moves quickly, so attempt another way to get through to the university. With many universities running their call centers remotely this year, there are several other contact methods universities are trialing to help ease the burden on the phone lines. A lot of universities will be using chat bots and social media to keep in contact with applicants this Results Day, so check out their profiles or website to chat to someone quickly. Some are even making offers online, so you can avoid the hold music altogether!

What if my grades are much worse than expected?

Don’t… panic. It can be upsetting not getting the grades you were expecting, but you have many options still available to you. First of all, check Track and see if your university have been flexible regarding your offer, which may be possible. If your grades mean you have failed to meet your offer, speak to your school as soon as possible. Appeals routes are limited to students this year, and are typically only available if a student feels discriminated against or if the school or exam board have used the wrong information, so talking to your school is advised if you have received a significantly lower grade than expected.  If the school thinks your grade is correct, and you’ve missed your offer, then think about whether Clearing might be right for you, or if you wish to take the Autumn exam series; however it’s important to remember that most universities will require you to reapply in 2021 if you do.

What if I want to take the Autumn exams?

Do… contact your teachers and enquire about entering. The A-level exams are planned for October, and the deadline for registering is Friday the 4th September. Results day is yet to be confirmed for these exams. It is still uncertain if you will be able to attend university this academic year but contact your chosen university first to find out whether they are doing January entries or if you have to reapply next year.

What if I do much better than expected?

Don’t… feel you have to stick with your original choice if you aren’t sure! You may want to see if you are eligible for Adjustment, a UCAS tool which enables students who have met or exceeded their firm choice offer to ‘trade up’ to a different university. However, make sure you are certain that this is the right choice for you. If you love your firm choice university, and still want to go even if your grades are much higher than their entry requirements, then no need to worry – just celebrate!

What if I want to defer my place to next year?

Do… check with your university if this will be possible first. Some may not agree to this, especially in the context of this year, but it is likely most will. Make sure you’ve thought about all the options before doing this, including what you plan to do with your year out. Many of the usual routes for a year out, such as getting a job, internship or going travelling, may not be possible in the normal way this year.

What if I don’t want to go to Uni at all anymore?

Do… think about why you decided to apply in the first place. Was it because everyone else was going, or because you really enjoyed the subject or the university you chose? If you’re having any doubts, especially during the situation everyone is in this year, then chat to your university or family to see if they can answer any worries you have. If you’re still sure then you can decline your place on UCAS Track, which will release you into Clearing. You can always reapply if you change your mind in a few years’ time. 


As part of The Student Room’s TSR Answers series, on August 6th, The Student Room will also be bringing together experts from Ucas and Ofqual, encouraging students to ask questions on how the grading process works and the process around what happens if they don’t get the grades they were expecting.  You can submit your questions here –

Visit for more information and advice.



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