What to Expect on A-Level Results Day

You may be wondering...

  • What do you do on the eve of A-level results day?
  • What do you carry with you on the day?
  • How do A-level grades work?
  • What do you do if you don't get the grades you wanted?
  • Can you retake A-levels?
  • How to resit A-levels
  • What's next after passing your A-levels?

On top of all these questions, many students will be worrying "Will the hard work pay off? What if you didn't do as well as expected?" It's natural for them to feel nervous, but it will be okay!

Whether you are a parent or student, here are a few tips to help ease your mind - take a look, and I wish you all good luck on results day!

What To Do on the Eve of A-level Results Day?

As a parent, you might want to prepare their favourite breakfast for everyone and offer some cheerful conversation about what they achieved this year at school.

It's good for students to have some positive thoughts and highlights for the year in their minds to ease any nerves. If you are awaiting AS results, don't fret - you will have time to make up for lost marks next year.

It can be a good idea to plan some activities for afterwards that the whole family can enjoy, such as going out to eat or getting together with friends. Having as much of your support group and people who have been in your shoes before is incredibly beneficial.

Parents might want to prepare emotionally by talking about their own experiences of receiving GCSE or O-Level results and what kind of feelings they felt back then.

It's easier to connect with someone you might just see as your parent when you are reminded that they too used to be nervous about results day! After all, exam results are not the only indicator of where you will be in adulthood.

When the day arrives, you may want to leave your children or students some space and time on their own first. Then, you can support them by checking in with them later about how they're feeling - there's no right or wrong way of reacting, so it is best just to listen, to begin with.

Suppose your child or student is feeling anxious. In that case, it might be a good idea to ask them what they're worried about and whether there's anything specific - such as not getting into their desired university course - that may be causing them stress in the lead-up to results day. You can also offer some advice on how to cope with these feelings.

What Do You Carry With You on the Day?

First, don’t forget about breakfast! If time permits, make sure that you have something to eat beforehand—it will help prepare for any long waits and hunger pangs in the waiting room.

Some schools will let you call up to hear your results, but if you want the full experience and to be around friends, then it's best to head into school. They will also be best prepared about what to do if things don't go to plan. Just as you would for any other trip to school, it's important to carry a few essentials with you on the day.

Don't forget to carry a pen with you and keep it close by. On top of that, we recommend a fully charged mobile phone a notebook/paper and a plastic wallet and backpack to keep the results safe and sound. It's easy with a flood of emotions to leave them in strange places or clutch the envelope so tight they crumple!

You may need access to a computer if you have any issues and need to enter clearing or check on your UCAS offers. School computers can be in short supply on results day so bring a laptop computer if you have it - just in case!

How Do A-level Grades Work?

A-levels for now still operate on the letter grading system. That may or may not be the system that parents will be familiar with. To make sure you understand, there are 7 grade brackets as follows:

  • A* - Outstanding (Approximately 90%)
  • A - Excellent (Approximately 80%)
  • B - Very Good (Approximately 70%)
  • C - Good (Approximately 60%)
  • D - Satisfactory (Approximately 50%)
  • E - Pass (Approximately 40%)
  • U - Unmarkable (Fail)

What to Do if You Don't Get the Grades You Wanted?

The first thing to do is not panic. Everyone feels this way, including your teachers and parents. Instead, try to take a deep breath and calm yourself down as however important it may feel to you now, it is not the end of the world. Writing down what you're feeling can also help calm you down and process your heightened emotions.

The main thing to worry about when you realise you didn't get the grades you expected is checking your university offers. The best way to check them is to log into your UCAS dashboard and go to your offers. They usually get updated first thing at 8:30 am as they get your results before you.

PLEASE - Do not despair if you have missed a grade needed for your conditional offer. Depending on a variety of factors out of your control, universities can still offer you the place at their own discretion which may take some time. If you do better in one subject and worse in another, usually everything will be fine. This happened to me when I was a student and it was one of the biggest reliefs I've ever felt after a morning of worrying.

Students also have a few other options to consider including resits, requesting remarking and entering the UCAS clearing process if you don't get your first or insurance university place. This process puts you forward for spare university spaces around the country that also didn't make their offer. It can take up most of your day and is often on a first-come, first-serve basis so don't delay.

We have a full student guide on what to do if you fail your exams here. It goes through all of your options including how to retake exams, reapplying through UCAS and some tips to help recover from a disappointing day. You will see better days so don't worry!

Can You Retake A-Levels?

The quick answer is yes you can - however, it is arguably only worth it in extreme cases. This could be if you have your heart set on a university or course that demands a certain grade in a subject. If you have done significantly worse in one subject than the others, it may be worth retaking that exam to get a higher grade and boost your overall mark.

You cannot retake an exam until the following year unless it is in Maths and English. They usually have resits starting in the autumn term - which isn't far away! Talk to your teacher about how to get the ball rolling on that.

Remember, help from a tutor can accelerate your learning and give you the best chase of nailing it this time around.

How to Resit for an A-Level.

In the UK, people take A-Levels around the age of 17-18. However, if you feel that your exam had terrible results, and you didn't try as hard as possible in some subjects, then there is an option to resit for them. A lot of people think that they don't have this opportunity given it is their final year at school, but it's not true.

You can resit an A-level even if you have left school - although it's not easy and you will not have access to the same teachers you once did. If needed, most people will do this as soon as possible so that the content is still fresh in their minds. Please read through the process in more detail in our dedicated guide here.

As mentioned before, if you are considering resitting, remember the amount of work required to take an A-level and ask yourself if you're willing to put in that work next year - through mostly self-study and working from home. In 2022, only around 50% of resits improved their mark - showing how important it is to really consider your commitment to a retake.

If you decide to resit the exam, as soon as your exam paper has been released for review, it can be worth hiring an A-level tutor to go through it with you and identify your areas of weakness.

From there, you can write down your weakest topics from the year and get some 1:1 private tuition in these areas. This can really help boost your confidence through the guidance of a personal tutor and help you feel confident when resitting.

What's Next After Passing Your A-Levels?

The best thing to do after passing any exam is to take a deep breath and relax. What a rollercoaster the last few years have been, right?

That's not to say there isn't work ahead of you. University and further education are a massive step up again! So here are some tips for what to do next:

  • Celebrate - It's been a long time coming, but you've done it! Congratulations and enjoy the occasion.
  • Start applying for accommodation - University will be some of the best times of your life. Amongst your summer plans, it helps to get a head start on securing student halls. You may end up in a less desirable location or in the super expensive option if you don't act quickly.
  • Start a shopping list - I'm sure you've earned a few things to help you feel at home at university. Check out our guide to going to uni for everything you'll need to get started.

If you plan to go straight into the real world as a job-seeker, we wish you the best of luck! See you out there!

Author's profile picture

Russell Kilgour

11th August

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