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Providing support on results day

Stay calm, know their options, and expect the unexpected. Here’s how you can support them on A-level results day.

Preparing for results day

a student studying papers with her dad or carer

Nerves are natural on results day. You can’t control what’s in the envelope, but you can manage the mood. Help to keep them calm and composed.

Clear heads make good choices. As a parent or carer, you should:

  • be positive, but practical. Encourage them to have a Plan B in place and to learn about the Clearing processes. Whatever their expectations. It’ll keep the surprises to a minimum.
  • make sure that they’ve got everything ready and to hand – from their offers, to those key telephone numbers. It’s not the day to be hunting for UCAS log-in details.
  • try to make sure that neither of you are on holiday. If any communications are required, universities will want to speak with them directly. Failing that, ensure they’ve given you permission to speak on their behalf.
  • most of all, respect and support their decision. Every choice has its merits. Let them make up their own minds, independently and with confidence.

Understanding their results

Below are some of the potential scenarios and what they may need to do next based on their results.

Mission accomplished, and congratulations – it’s time to celebrate! Their university place will be confirmed online via UCAS, and a confirmation letter will be sent in the post. Keep hold of that letter – it explains what to do next.

If they meet and exceed the conditions of their first choice, they’ll be eligible to explore an alternative choice through the UCAS Adjustment. They could stick with their firm choice, or they may want to consider a different course, or even a different university. Registering for Adjustment isn’t a commitment. It’s a no-risk option – their original offer will remain in place until they confirm an alternative choice.

It’s an exciting opportunity, but a big decision – encourage them to think clearly and practically. What’s the accommodation situation at their new option? Have they visited the university before?

If they wish to change universities at confirmation, they should enter Clearing and, if they use Clearing Plus, UCAS will signpost them to relevant universities with spaces whose entry requirements match their results.

Conditions not met? Try not to panic – set the tone with enthusiasm, a calm head, and a clear plan of action.

In the case of a near-miss, we recommend contacting the University – they could still be accepted or offered an alternative course. If they’re set on that particular course, other possibilities include re-marking, re-sitting, or even re-applying in the next academic year.

Failing that, they could find new opportunities through Clearing. Clearing has a lot of success stories. It's a contingency, not a consolation, so be positive about it – help them to understand that the power of choice is still in their hands. For more information and guidance around the Clearing process, visit UCAS’ Clearing page.

UCAS run their Clearing scheme every year, matching students to university places across the UK. As well as missed grades, it’s also useful when:

  • they’ve applied to university, but haven’t received any offers
  • they’ve declined all of their offers
  • they haven’t yet applied for a course
  • they’ve missed the UCAS deadline date.

A gap year, related work experience, or just a change of heart – they will need to inform the university’s admissions office. Make sure that they’re 100% certain about their choice. It’s a decision that should be made before results day, and not in the heat of the moment.