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A-level results day 2021: what to expect

Here’s everything you need to know about getting your A-level results and uni offers. No matter what your results are, you have options available to you...

A-level exams were cancelled this year and have been replaced by teacher-assessed grades. 
Find out more about how teacher assessed grades were decided for 2021 with this article.

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When is A-level results day 2021?

A-level results day is on Tuesday 10 August.
In Scotland, SQA results are also due to be released to students on Tuesday, 10 August 2021.

You can pick your results up anytime from 8am, or whenever your school or college opens on the day.

A-level results day is two weeks earlier than planned - the release of results had previously been scheduled for 24 August.

Bringing results day forward is intended to provide more time for students to appeal against any results that may have affected their university application.

Find out how to appeal your teacher-assessed grades here.

These decisions about exams and results day have been based on a public consultation run by Ofqual. The consultation had more than 100,000 responses - you can find more details about what the consultation covered here.

A-level results day 2021: what to expect

1. Preparing for A-level results day

The secret to keeping calm while waiting for results day? It's being prepared and organised.

As student Febi from Derby told us:

Be as prepared as you can be and then be more prepared. The day will hopefully go your way but if it doesn't, you don't want to be stuck in the position of trying to come up with a battle plan in your sleep-deprived, stressed state. If your sixth-form/college opens before Track updates, DEFINITELY go in early. If you don't get the grades [you need], then you have time to come to terms with it and it also means you can start calling [universities in] Clearing as soon as it's open.

Make sure you have all your important details and information to hand – this will be especially useful if your results are lower than expected and you then need to apply for a new university place via Clearing.

Be ready with: 

  • your Ucas ID number (and log-in details)
  • your Ucas Clearing number – this will only be available on Ucas Track if you’ve been rejected by both your first and insurance choices, and become eligible for Clearing
  • Clearing phone numbers for universities you’ve applied to or have your eye on – you can find these on their website
  • working pens and paper – sounds obvious, but you'll get lots of information on the spot
  • a phone charger
  • your personal statement – universities you speak to in Clearing will be able to see this and may ask you questions based on this
  • GCSE results – they might come up.

Even if you are very confident, it can't hurt to have a plan B in place. Revisit other course options and look at your personal statement again. You could even practise mini-interview situations to prepare for the possibility of a Clearing phone call.

Doing this research beforehand will allow you to stay cool and focused on results day, and hit the ground running if you need to rethink things.

Have a fully-charged phone in case you need to ring universities. If you're worried about your grades in the lead up to results day, look up courses that interest you and make a note of relevant phone numbers. Hannah, Birmingham

And finally – be kind to yourself and try to get a good night’s sleep! Nerves might make you restless, but do your best to keep calm and not stay awake worrying. 

Students and parents who went through results day last year share their stories and tips  take a look.

2. What happens on A-level results day? 

You can collect your results from your school or college. Contact your school for their exact opening and closing times as this will vary. 

Ucas receives your results directly and will update Track – this is normally around 8am. The system will be very busy, so you might need to be patient to find out whether you’ve been successful. 

While you can check Track to find out whether you’ve got into either of your choices, you’ll still need to collect your results to see exactly what grades you got (especially if you need to enter Clearing). There are definitely benefits to going into school or college to collect your results, as student Kirsty from London points out:

Open your results at college if possible. Teachers will be there to support you if things don't go as planned.

How you go about collecting them is entirely up to you. Decide whether you want to open them alone, with friends at school, or take them home and share the experience with your family.

If you can’t collect these in person, let your school know and arrange for someone to collect them for you. However, if you need to go through Clearing, this is something you’ll need to do, rather than a parent or family member – universities will want to speak to you).

If Track doesn't update

If Track still has not updated by mid-morning on results day, you'll need to phone the university because it suggests they are yet to make a final decision on your application.
The hotline phone number may be listed on the uni's website, or it might have been sent to you in advance. If you haven't got a special number then just phone the uni's normal number and make it clear you are an existing offer holder, not a Clearing applicant.
Sometimes unis can take a long time to make a final decision – it could even be more than a week after results day. If it reaches this point and you are still waiting, phone and ask when they expect to decide. Keep calm and remain polite – the person answering the phone may have no control over this process so taking your frustration out on them is futile.
That said, universities are not supposed to keep people in limbo for too long, so if you think they are being unreasonable and causing you to miss out on places elsewhere via Clearing then contact Ucas for advice.

3. You’ve met your firm offer

Congratulations! Once your Ucas Track status updates (this can sometimes take a few hours on results day morning as things get busy) you’ll be sent a confirmation email post from your firm choice. 

Sit back and start preparing for university.

4. You’ve just missed your predicted grades

Disappointing, but you may still get an offer from your firm choice.

Check Track and see if your status has changed to ‘unconditional’ or if you’ve been offered a place on a different course at the same university. This is known as a ‘changed course offer’, which you’ll need to accept or decline.

If you wish to decline your offer, you can go into Clearing. You can self-release into Clearing if you wish to decline your offers.

If you just missed out on your grades by a few marks or intend to appeal any grades, you may be able to ask your firm choice to reconsider if they haven’t accepted you. Speak to an adviser or teacher before doing so.

If you miss your firm offer, and the university will not accept you

You have several options, which your school/college will be able to talk you through with specific regard to your circumstances. These include:

  • Accepting your insurance place
  • Applying to different universities through Clearing
  • Retaking A-levels
  • Reapplying for next year

5. You’ve met your insurance offer

Well done! Once your place is confirmed in Track, you’ll be able to apply for your student accommodation if you haven't sorted this out already.

At some point before you go, you’ll also need to change your student loan details – you might be entitled to slightly more in financial support depending on where you're now going to study.

Wait for your confirmation email to arrive and think about sorting out accommodation at your new university. 

6. Your grades are much lower than predicted

Before you panic, check Track you may still have an offer. If the university hasn't made a decision yet, phone them to discuss your situation. 

Realising that neither your firm or insurance university will accept you can be very hard, especially if you’re surrounded by friends who are celebrating their success. Your school has seen students in exactly this position before and can help. Don't fall into the trap of thinking 'my entire life is over'.

If neither your firm nor insurance choice has offered you a place, you could decide to apply for a new course through Ucas Clearing  read our full guide to the process.

And there are other options available to you too. You could:
  • Take your A-level exams in the autumn
  • Take your A-levels next summer and reapply for next year's entry to uni
  • Forget about uni for the moment and either get a job, go to college to do a non-degree course, or do a traineeship or apprenticeship.
When looking at Clearing vacancies, I'd suggest starting with any that may be available at your other original Ucas choices, as these are universities you will have researched and considered going to previously. It'll also show those universities that you had an interest in them prior to the Clearing process.  Stella Barnes | Careers Adviser

Applying to uni through Clearing? Here are some top tips from uni admissions experts.

7. There’s always another option: don't go

Perhaps you want to reconsider your options, build up some more work experience, retake your exams or defer your place for a year? A gap year could offer you some valuable time out to get yourself into a stronger position to apply next year.

Applicants are often stronger with "known grades" and you might find that the year out has helped you to focus on what you really want!  Wendy Hodgkiss | Careers Adviser

Results day, done. What happens now?

You've got your results and a university place sorted congratulations! Here's what else you need to tick off the checklist to make sure you're fully prepared for starting uni:
  • Sort out your accommodation Don't wait around as the best of what's left will get snatched up quickly. Our guide to finding accommodation in Clearing might help.
  • Get your finances in order These include expenses you need to factor into your budget and how to cut your costs at uni.
  • Research the area If you've gone through Clearing and you're heading to a completely different corner of the country now, start brushing up on your new home.

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