A Level results day 2021
Getting ready for A Level results day 2021? We're sure you've done well, but whatever your results, the steps in this guide will make the day as simple and stress-free as possible.
Waiting to find out if you've made it into your first-choice university is not fun. We know exactly how you feel, but rest assured you're not going through it alone. Whatever happens, you've got this.
Whether you get the grades you need, do better than expected or fall a bit short, this guide will tell you all you need to know about your next steps.
What's in this guide?
When is A Level results day 2021?
This year, A Level results day is on Tuesday 10th August 2021. Results will come out anytime after 8am. Schools and colleges open at different times for results day, so be sure to ask a teacher when you can receive yours.
And, if you live in Scotland, SQA results day 2021 will also be on Tuesday 10th August. These results should be available from 8am but, again, check with your school or college to find out the earliest time you can get yours.
The universities you've picked as firm and insurance choices will have received your A Level results a few days ahead of results day, so the status of your uni offers will likely update on UCAS Track pretty early on 10th August (from 8am).
You won't see your A Level results on Track, but if the status of your uni offers change on there, you'll be able to get a pretty good idea of how you've done.
We explain what the updated statuses on Track mean here.
How to prepare for A Level results day
You'll usually need to travel to your school or college to pick up your results envelope.
If this is the case, make sure you've made travel arrangements in advance – the last thing you want is to be stranded on results day morning.
Or, if you're unable to attend in person to collect your results, it's possible to arrange for them to be sent to you in the post, or for a nominated person to pick them up on your behalf (if they have a signed permissions slip).
We chatted to the National Careers Service in 2019 about how best to prepare for results day.
Sophie Graham from the National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline told us:
A great way for students to prepare for A Level results day is to plan ahead.
If students start looking into their options and researching potential career routes for all possible outcomes, they will feel much more prepared when they receive their results.
We agree – you might be trying to ignore all things results-day related, but you need to make sure you're prepared for every eventuality.
Even if you're confident you've made the grade (good on you!), it's still worth taking some time to do a bit of research on other universities or courses you might be interested in just in case you have to apply through Clearing.
This means you'll have some contact numbers ready and a plan to follow on the off-chance things don't quite go the way you hoped.
What to bring with you on A Level results day
To be as prepared as possible, make sure you have these things with you when you get your A Level results:
- A pen and notepad
- Your UCAS number
- Contact details for your firm and insurance choice universities
- A copy of your personal statement.
And a pack of tissues might come in handy too – results day can get pretty emotional.
Look after your mental health ahead of results day
Sophie, from the National Careers Service, suggested:
Exam season can be a stressful time for young people, so it's really important for them to take care of their mental health leading up to exam results day.
There are a few ways that Mental Health UK advises students can take care of their mental health during this limbo period which include exercise, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, doing something nice every day/hanging out with friends and/or speaking with a GP if feelings of stress and anxiety become overwhelming.
Have a look at our guide for more tips on looking after your mental health. Just remember that, whatever happens on results day, your wellbeing should always come first.
What if you are away on A Level results day?
We'd strongly advise not making any plans to be away on results day as it can make things like applying through Clearing more tricky. But, if you've already booked a trip and you're not going to be able to make it, most schools and colleges will have a procedure for this.
You'll have to speak to your own school or college for exact info, but you'll likely be able to collect your results online or over the phone, or they might be sent out to you in the post as we mentioned earlier. Alternatively, you may be able to send a designated family member to collect them in your place if they have a permissions slip.
For security reasons, you might need to provide some information in order to access results, so make sure you have your UCAS number, date of birth and postcode to hand.
Receiving teacher-assessed grades as A Levels
This year, as exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, you'll be receiving teacher-assessed grades on A Level results day.
If you're not happy with these grades, you have the option to take the exams in autumn 2021 – you'd receive these exam results on 16th December 2021.
Then, your final grade will be whichever is highest out of your teacher-assessed grades and exam results.
Can you appeal teacher-assessed grades?
As well as having the option to take exams in autumn 2021, you'll also have the option to appeal your teacher-assessed A Level grades.
If you receive an A Level result on 10th August that you wish to appeal, talk to a relevant person at your college or sixth form.
They'll be able to check for any errors in the grade-assessment process and, if they find any mistakes, they should notify the exam board and inform them of what the new grade should be.
If there were no errors but you still wish to appeal the grade, your sixth form/college can submit a formal appeal to the exam board for free on your behalf.
The exam board will review your teacher's decision and consider whether their given grade was a fair assessment of your work. Your grade may stay the same, or it could go up or down depending on the exam board's assessment.
A Level results day outcomes and next steps
There are a number of different things that could happen on results day, and it's important to be prepared for all of them. This table gives you a quick rundown of the most likely outcomes:
|UCAS Track Status||What it means||Next steps|
|Unconditional offer||You got the grades and have been accepted into one of your chosen universities||Celebrate! And start preparing for uni|
|Clearing||You didn't get the grades for your firm and insurance choices||Start researching alternative courses, and call up unis. Head to our Clearing guide for more info|
|Unconditional changed course||You didn't get the grades for your chosen course, but the uni has offered you an alternative course instead||Carefully consider the course you've been offered. If it's not right for you, decline and start looking at Clearing vacancies|
|Conditional offer||Your unis are still considering whether to offer you a place||Call your unis to get an update on the situation|
What happens if you meet your firm or insurance offer
If you get the results you need to get into your firm or insurance choice, then congrats! It's time to pop open the champagne (once you've found a good deal, obviously).
Unis must keep to their offers and can't turn you down if you achieve the necessary grades. So, if you get the grades and log on to UCAS Track, you should see that the offer's changed to 'Unconditional' – meaning you've met the conditions and your place is now confirmed.
If you miss the grades for your firm choice, but you get the grades for your insurance choice, you will automatically be accepted into your insurance choice university – you don't have to do anything.
Your confirmation letter will be on its way and, when it arrives, hold onto it – you'll probably need to show it to the bank when you get round to opening a student bank account.
What to do if you don't get your firm or insurance choice
As we mentioned earlier, if you missed out on the required grades for both your firm and insurance university choices, don't worry – all is not lost.
You can still apply for a place through Clearing. Our Clearing guide explains the whole process, so take a few deep breaths, have a read, and nab yourself a place at a great uni.
Before you do that, you might want to phone your firm and insurance universities to ask whether they would still be willing to offer you a place, especially if you're just one grade or a few UCAS points off. They might offer you a place on an alternative course instead.
Remember to sell yourself and come up with a list of reasons why you would be perfect for the course – focus on other strong grades, extracurricular activities or relevant work experience.
Or, if your chosen unis don't offer you a place after you call and you're sure there's nowhere else you want to go, maybe consider taking the exams in autumn to see if you can achieve the required grades.
If you take the autumn exams and you achieve the grades you need to meet your uni offer, you may be able to join your chosen course in January if the university has January start dates. Not all will, so you may need to defer until September 2022.
Sophie Graham from the National Careers Service said:
It's important to remember that exam results don't necessarily define anyone's ultimate career success.
Every year at the Exam Results Helpline we have students calling us in this position, but nevertheless, they go on to find a career route that's perfect for them.
There are so many options open to you, but you don't need to decide on what to do straight away. Sophie added:
It's also really important to not rush into any decisions.
Take some time to scope out all available options; seek advice from friends, family and the experts on the Exam Results Helpline. That way, you can make strong, informed decisions about your future.
What to do if you get an offer for a different course
When you check UCAS Track, you might see 'Changed course offer'. This usually means you didn't meet the grade requirements for the course you applied for, but the university has decided to offer you a place on a different course instead.
This won't be automatically confirmed – you'll have to look into the details of the new course and make a decision.
The new offer could be for a completely different course, but it could also mean a different start date or point of entry (i.e. you'll have to complete a foundation year first).
It's not a decision to rush into. Before you decide whether to accept the new offer, it's worth considering:
- Are you interested in studying the new course?
- Would the course help or hinder your future career plans?
- Are there other routes you'd rather take, like reapply to uni next year, travel or find a job?
And, remember to check the status of your other university offer too – don't decide anything about the new course until you've heard back from both universities.
What to do if UCAS Track doesn't update
Your status on UCAS Track should update on the morning of results day – if it's still showing 'Conditional' by mid-morning, we'd recommend getting in touch with your university as it's possible they're still making a decision.
When you call the university, make it clear you're an existing offer holder and not a Clearing applicant – that should help to speed up the process.
It can take a while for universities to make a final decision, but if they're keeping you waiting so long that you think you're losing out on potential Clearing places in the event you don't get an offer, contact UCAS for advice.
UCAS Clearing explained
If you don't meet the grade requirements for either your firm or insurance choice, you can use the UCAS Clearing service to try and find a place elsewhere.
Most Clearing vacancies will be listed on A Level results day, and UCAS will post live updates of the latest places.
It's up to you to find a new course and contact the university to see if they can offer you a place. Some might just need your details, while others might ask you to 'sell yourself' in a mini phone interview.
Clearing can be a stressful process, so our main piece of advice would be to not rush into anything you're unsure of. Deciding to go to university is a big commitment, so make sure both the course and university are right for you before accepting a new place. You can always reapply next year!
Head over to our complete guide to Clearing for more information on exactly how it works.
UCAS Adjustment explained
If you get even better A Level grades than expected, it might be worth taking a look at Adjustment.
Essentially, Adjustment allows you to hold your firm offer while you look for another university or a higher entry course.
How to apply to university through Adjustment
- Talk to a teacher or adviser at your school or college first, just to make sure Adjustment is going to be worthwhile for you.
- 'Register for Adjustment' will appear on the choices screen on UCAS Track if you've met and exceeded the conditions of your firm offer – sign up for Adjustment through that link.
- There are no listings for Adjustment vacancies so you'll need to browse UCAS and ring universities directly to enquire about places.
- When enquiring about vacancies, make it clear that you're just looking for information. Only verbally agree to a new course if you're 100% sure you want to accept it.
- Once you've verbally agreed you'd like a place on the new course, the university will add themselves to your application in UCAS Track and your confirmation letter will be in the post.
The deadline for using UCAS Adjustment is 18th August 2021. However, you only get five days (that's five consecutive 24-hour periods, including weekends) from the moment your offer becomes Unconditional to use this service – the site should show a handy timer to help you keep track of this.
What if you defer or reject your university place?
If you decide you want to defer your place at university for a year (and you don't already hold a deferred offer), it's simply a case of calling up the university and asking to defer.
Most will be fine with this, but make sure you know your reasons for doing so – whether it's to work, go travelling or volunteer, for example. If the university isn't happy for you to defer, then you will have to give up your university place and reapply through UCAS the following year.
If you decide that you no longer want to go to university at all, then you'll have to contact your university to explain the situation to them, and they will release you from the offer.
If you reject a firm or insurance offer that's been confirmed as unconditional, you'd have the option to apply through Clearing instead if you wish.
But keep in mind that this process can sometimes take a bit of time. By selecting your chosen universities, you're entering into a contractual agreement with them, and getting out of that can be tricky. You'll need to contact your university and explain the situation to them.
Similarly, if you meet the grades for your firm choice but would rather head to your insurance choice instead, you might face problems. When you meet the requirements for your firm, UCAS will automatically accept this offer, and let your insurance choice uni know that you'll be heading elsewhere. Reversing that can be quite difficult.
The only exception to this rule is if your grades are substantially better than expected, and you fancy using the Adjustment service.
What to do after A Level results day
Once you've got your A Level results and your university place is confirmed, you'll no doubt be thinking ahead to your new life as a student and – of course – freshers' week.
If you're keen to get ready for freshers' week now, here are a few of our most popular guides for new students:
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- Best student bank accounts 2021
- Freshers' flu causes, symptoms and cures
- Freshers' week survival guide
- Top skills every student needs
- Common myths about university
- Best websites for students
- Useful student resources
And, on top of that, here's a quick snapshot of what we have to offer to get you started:
Download your free student money cheat sheet
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Join the student deals community
As a student, you're about to enter a world of unlimited discounts and special offers.
Your student ID or TOTUM card is your golden ticket to money-saving, but where can you use it? We have the UK's only up-to-date student discount directory showing you where you can use your card, so make sure you have a look.
Do your homework
Every day we add new money-saving advice to the site, so whatever it is you need to find out about, we've got you covered.
Before freshers' week, check out the top things graduates wish they had known in their first year.