Exam Results Day Is Here: How To Come Up Smelling Of Roses No Matter Your Grades

Results day. It looms all summer, and even the most confident students will probably lose sleep over it...

Aside, that is, from ‘Unconditional Offer Liam’, who will spend the summer tending to elephants at a sanctuary in Thailand, sleeping under the stars, and feasting on masaman curry, safe in the knowledge that he’s off to the university of his dreams come September.

It’s ok to hate Liam. I hate Liam.

What I mean to say is that there are many possible outcomes on results’ day… and whatever happens it will likely turn out ok, despite the heartbreak you will understandably feel if you miss out on your required grades.

Still worried? Well here are some tips on surviving results day provided by folk who’ve been exactly where you are, survived to tell the tale and ultimately waltzed off into the sunset with a degree to show for it.

‘What do I need to take when I collect my results?’

There are a few things you’ll probably need to take if you have to go to college to collect your results. First, make sure your phone has full battery, so you can keep every aunt, uncle, brother-in-law, etc etc up-to-date.

You may have to make some phone calls to institutions, so it’s advisable to jot things down. Keep the contact details for your university choices on hand, (both phone numbers and email addresses) and take your offer letters with you, so you can be absolutely certain what they were asking for.

Most important, make sure to have a good breakfast before you set out!

‘I didn’t get my first choice’

Not getting into your first-choice university can feel like the end of the world, I should know, I didn’t make it! But I can say, hand on heart, that in hindsight, I’m glad I ended up at the university I picked as my insurance.

My first choice was a large institution, requiring ABB… sadly my ABD (the D being in the subject I had chosen to study for my degree!) didn’t cut it. Tears, hot tears. Nauseating stomach cramps -- ‘don’t hug me mum, my world is over!’.

But it turned out my second-choice university - a much smaller institution - was delighted with my results. The rest of summer was a blur of BBQs and Ikea trips, and before I knew it I was waving goodbye to mum, who cried so hard she crashed into the lamppost outside my halls (don’t worry, she’s fine).

It wasn’t the experience I had expected or planned for. It was better! Huddersfield Music Department was smaller than my first-choice university. My tutors really knew me and cared about my outcomes. I knew every student on my course by name and instrument; we roped each other into avant garde contemporary ensembles, late-night study groups and charity events. It turns out that missing out on those grades was the best mistake I ever made.

‘I have to go through clearing’

Clearing. The dreaded word. Nobody wants to even think about it, let alone actually tackle it. But it’s really not all bad. Last year 75% of top universities made spaces through clearing, and around 10% of students went through the process. And this year there are more places available than ever as the cap on clearing places has been lifted.

If you have questions about clearing, you can ask the lovely chaps over at The Guardian.

And now for a tale of woe, confusion and, ultimately, success. A friend of mine went through clearing back in 2008. Agonisingly, she missed the A she needed by 1%. Her work was sent for remarking. But that grade just wouldn’t budge, and she was faced with the reality that she wasn’t getting onto that English Lit course.

However, the university did offer her a place on Theology. This girl loved her first choice university so much that she accepted… despite being a staunch atheist.

She has now completed a PGCE and gone on to do what we always knew she would: teach. The route wasn’t the one she’d planned, but the outcome was exactly what she was aiming for.

‘My grades are better than predicted’

What’s that you say? You aced your A-levels and wish you’d been more ambitious with your applications? Well done you!

If you’ve met all the requirements for your offers and exceeded expectations in at least one of your subjects, you should see a button on your UCAS track page that shows you are eligible for what they call ‘adjustment’. This is where you effectively negotiate your place at a ‘better’ university (i.e. one that wanted higher grades than the ones you were predicted). Remember that you only have 5 days to apply for adjustment, so you’ll have to decide fast.

The next step is to call the institutions that you’re interested in. Sadly, universities don’t list adjustment places, but if a university is listing clearing spaces then they will also consider adjustment. To apply, you’ll need your UCAS ID number and the university will probably want proof of your results.

Most importantly, don’t rush the decision. Once you confirm on the UCAS website that you are plumping for your adjustment place, your firm offer will be lost.

‘Do I really want to go to University?’

Once you receive your results you may find that you are no longer sure whether to go to university. Perhaps you didn’t get into your first-choice university, or on the course you selected.

One option is to defer for a year. Here, contact the university and explain your reasons for deferring once your offer is confirmed. It’s best to do this as soon as possible after receiving your results. Universities are usually fine with this, because many students use this year to travel, gain some work experience or volunteer… which is all excellent for the old CV!

In some cases, students don’t manage to find a space through clearing. There are a number options available if you find yourself in this situation. You can retake your A-levels and apply again next year. Or you could explore the options of non-degree based training, such as apprenticeships or NVQs.  

Celebrate!

No matter how results’ day turns out, you’re still at a landmark point in your education from where you will strike out on a new, exciting path in your life. Remember that you’ve worked hard to get to this point and you deserve to treat yourself. Whether it’s a night out with friends or your favourite meal at home, take a little time to bask in the glow of your achievement.

The author, Anja Madhvani, is one of the newest members of the Sonocent team and a graduate in Music from the University of Huddersfield. She likes playing the violin, yoga and eating cheese.

Dec 07

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