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A-level results day 2021: what to expect

Results day 2021 is on Tuesday 10 August. No matter what your results are, you have options available to you...

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Are you a Scottish student? Read our guide to SQA results day instead.

A-level results day 2021: what to expect

1. Preparing for A-level results day

Teacher-assessed grades are replacing A-level exams this year. With a different system in place than normal, results days for A-level, GCSE and Btec students will be earlier to allow time for students to appeal any grades they're unhappy with.

A-level results day 2021 is on Tuesday 10 August.

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 and 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. Universities may also take a while to make their decision and for this to show on Track, so it might be worth contacting them directly over the phone for an answer sooner.

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).

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 letter in the 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 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.


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.


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. 

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.
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 students.

7. Your grades are much higher than predicted

A nice surprise! Do you still want to accept your firm choice or is there a different course you could apply to now with your higher grades? You can do this through Ucas Adjustment.

As with Clearing, make sure you do your research on courses and universities properly before deciding to switch – higher entry requirements doesn't necessarily mean a course is a better match for you.

See full entry requirements for a course (and much more), search now

8. 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:
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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