For anyone whose A-level results have fallen short this year, we have experts on hand to answer your questions.
Eddie Playfair, a senior curriculum expert at the Association of Colleges, and Which? University editor Helena Poole offer personalised advice on what to do if your grades are not what you were hoping for.
Your questions answered
Chiara, near Slough
I have secured a place at my second-choice uni but am very disappointed with my A-level English result. I predicted my other grades accurately but was expecting an A or a high B, based on my previous work and feeling on how the exams went, but got a C and only 17 [out of ] 40 on my strongest paper. I am thinking of asking for re-marks. I want to understand what went wrong rather than go for a higher grade but is it worth it?
You’re wise to query your mark, especially if it was significantly lower than expected – this can help you in your future career. Talk to your teachers or head of year at school to get their thoughts, given that they know you best from an academic point of view.
However if you’re happy to go with your second-choice university, I wouldn’t worry too much about querying this right away. Other students who are appealing grades because they have a uni place on the line will probably appreciate it.
Check out our guide to appealing an A-level grade.
You can apply to the exam board to have a review of results, which can be either a review of marking or a clerical check, but you should discuss this with your college or school first to make sure they support your view that the result is unexpected.
They may also be able to get more information about where you lost marks in your paper. Bear in mind that with a review of marking, your grade can go down as well as up and there is also a charge, although this is refunded if there is a grade change.
In the meantime, if you are planning to progress to higher education, you need to do so on the basis of the grades you’ve actually been awarded. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Hi, Shelley here – in a very tense household where [my] son has just got his results: A* in maths, A in philosophy, B in further maths.
[He is] devastated [because] he’s apparently lost his offer at Durham, who require three As. My question is: Is there any possibility of Durham still taking him with these grades?
He’s on the telephone to Durham now, having been placed “on hold”. It’s so sad as he’s never had a grade B in all his school life – 14 GCSE’s, nine of which were A*s and the remainder straight As.
First of all, congratulations to your son on some stunning results. He can be really proud of these.
It is quite possible that Durham could still offer him a place as he’s very close with one subject above and one below the offer. They may need a little time to see where they are with their numbers.
If they say categorically: “No”, then he should be guaranteed a place at his insurance university, assuming he has met their offer grades – fingers crossed that he gets the place he most wants.
Your son is doing the right thing by calling up his first choice to see whether they can still honour the offer. Hopefully they can – but if they can’t, there are still plenty of options open to him.
He can choose his insurance choice or ask his school about the possibility of retaking the further maths A-level and re-applying again next next year.
I understand this must be disappointing but A*AB are still fantastic grades, so I have no doubt he will find himself on a course that he loves.
I got an offer of ABB through Ucas [the University and College Admissions Service] for sociology at Birmingham but declined and chose my firm and insurance… elsewhere.
Today, I received ABC, with an A in sociology, and saw that the University of Birmingham had places for sociology in clearing. However, although on their website they state the “typical” (not in clearing) offer is ABB, they have put the clearing grades up to A*AA, which seems to be completely unfair and unreasonable. They said they could not offer a place for ABC, although one grade below their “typical offer”, and also stated they would not be lowering the A*AA requirement in clearing. What can I do?
Well done on your results. I’m sorry to hear that the university you’d like to go to can’t offer you a place.
Have your firm or insurance choices offered you a place? If they have and you no longer want to go there, you need to be released to enter clearing.
If you haven’t been offered a place or you have chosen to decline your offers, you might want to look at other universities offering sociology in clearing – were there any in your Ucas top five that you might want to revisit?
Taking a quick glance at the clearing vacancies suggests that a number of universities have places (including ones in Birmingham) available for this subject. You could also consider doing a joint honours degree with sociology and another subject you enjoy. Universities might be more flexible on their entry grades when it comes to joint courses.
Do some research and try calling more universities to suss out what your options are. We hope you find a course at a university that will make you happy.
Hi and well done for getting ABC. That’s a really good set of results.
It does seem harsh for Birmingham to be ramping up the entry requirements like this during clearing.
You haven’t said whether you’ve met the offer requirements for either your firm or insurance places – but if Birmingham are saying that they can’t offer you a place through clearing based on your grades, it would be wise not to decline any other offers you are holding on to. Good luck in finding a suitable degree course.
I’ve entered clearing but [am] worried I won’t get anything given my poor results in PE. What should I do?
Don’t panic and keep in mind what your ultimate aim is and then you can then work out what the best way to get there will be.
The clearing process will help you identify which higher education courses in your chosen field might be able to offer you a place.
You can then consider your options, which may be different from what you originally planned for. So, do give yourself enough time to research and discuss them with your teachers, careers advisers and family. All the very best with the process.
This will depend on the course you’re applying to and how important PE is to that course.
It’s definitely worth having a look at a wide section of courses in clearing and checking their entry requirements carefully. Some universities will just look at grades, whereas others may want specific subjects. You can view a course’s full entry requirements on Which? University.
You can also consider retaking a subject and re-applying next year. If you want to do this, speak to someone at your school about whether this option is available. Good luck.
My son applied to study product design at Brunel University but his results weren’t good enough for his original offer.
So, I was wondering if he could still apply to them through clearing, even though he has just been rejected by the main Ucas system because of his results.
We would suggest that your son calls the university in question to discuss his situation. For instance, if he narrowly missed his grades, they may be able to offer alternatives such as a place on a similar course that still has spots.
However if they’ve already rejected him, it might be worth spending this time looking at courses at unis that do match up with the grades he’s achieved. He can search for courses quickly by entry grades on Which? University.
Best of luck to him.
There may be a completely different course at the same university that has places and could offer him one – but he would need to speak to the university concerned. Good luck.