5 Ways to prepare for A Level Results Day

No matter how you’re feeling about A Level results next week – excited, anxious, uncertain – there are a few ways you can prepare beforehand to make the day as smooth as possible and be as ready as you can be for any surprises (good or bad)!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

You know that boring bit when you’re on a plane and you have to sit through the information about life jackets, emergency exits and oxygen masks? 

We go through it on every flight, even though the chances of ever needing that information are incredibly low. The thing is, on that really rare occasion that you do need this information, you don’t want someone explaining it to you in the middle of an incredibly scary situation – you want it explained before.

Of course it’s very likely that you will get the results and/or the university place you want, and you can go and celebrate your hard-earned qualifications with your friends. However, if you do get hit with a less favourable outcome, it’s worth the time doing a little pre-results day preparation to make sure you are ready for turbulence.

Before you collect your A Level results, you should consider:

  • Making a list of possible scenarios and thinking about how you might respond to them. Are you sure about your insurance place or would you rather wait and reapply? These are decisions that are better made when you’re not dealing with the raw emotions of results day.
  • Looking through Clearing at available courses that you might be interested in, and checking what to do if you decide to go through this route.
  • Making sure you know what support is available through your school or college, and where and when you can access this.
  • Having a fully charged mobile phone (and maybe tablet or laptop) with you on the day in case you need to contact universities.
  • Having your GCSE results to hand – if you do decide to go through Clearing, universities may ask for you for evidence.

Communicate (with everyone!)

If you’re hit hard by something you didn’t expect, it can feel like you want to hide from the world and withdraw – especially if people around you are celebrating. Remember that your parents, teachers and other school or college staff are there to help you – the sooner you communicate with them, the better placed they will be to advise you. Similarly, make sure you communicate clearly with universities and are aware of important deadlines for accepting or declining offers (such as change of course offers).

While we’re on the subject, don’t forget your friends. If they are feeling better about their results than you, try not to let envy get in the way of celebrating with them. If they have been hit with bad news, be there to listen to them.

Consider your options early

Should you go through Clearing or take a gap year? These are big choices, and there are clear pros and cons for both strategies. Try to make this decision rationally – it can be tempting to jump at any potential place if everyone around you is getting excited about starting university and you don’t want to feel left out. Clearing might even offer a place that suits you better than your original choices! 

On the other hand, a well-planned gap year can be an amazing opportunity to develop yourself as a person and broaden your horizons. Of course, you can also gain valuable experience volunteering or in a work placement that will enhance your application next time round.

As mentioned above, it’s important to consider these options before results day if there’s any chance you might not get into your first choice of course.

Prepare for doing better than expected

Congratulations! Every year, a certain proportion of students manage to exceed the predictions of their school or college and do better than their predicted grades. If you did significantly better, you might be thinking about declining your firm choice offer and finding an alternative place through Clearing. This is another option to try to think about before you collect your results – ‘good’ Clearing options disappear fast and declining your place is an irreversible decision. 

It’s a very big planet, with a lot of options – none of this will matter in a few years!

Try not to take it personally

The last few years have been incredibly tough on students. After the disruption of the pandemic, many students put off applying or deferred their entries and this has resulted in there simply being fewer available places on popular courses. One way to get a sense of perspective is to consider how you will feel about your A Level results in one year or even five years from now. The vast majority of students who are initially disappointed on results day go on to complete degree courses and build successful careers and actually realise with hindsight that the change of plans was a good thing. Sometimes the thing we want right now isn’t always the best option for our future – take a step back and remember how far you’ve come already!

Claire Costello-Kelly

Claire Costello-Kelly

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