A-Level Results: Do you have a Plan B?

If you don’t get the A-level results you were hoping for, you are bound to be disappointed. Maybe you already know that you didn’t do as well as expected and have a plan in place to fall back on, but it may also have come as a complete surprise and you haven’t even considered what you might do in this scenario,

If you don’t get in to either of your university choices, now is the time to weigh up all your options, looking at opportunities which you might not previously have considered.

Each year there are a number of courses at most universities that haven’t reached their full capacity. These spaces then become available in Clearing, which you can browse through using the UCAS search tool. Courses can be applied for as soon as you get your results, by contacting the university in question. However, it’s better to already have an idea of which courses you’re interested in so that you can get on the phone to them before someone else fills up the space.

If you have a suspicion that you will not get the grades, it is advisable to do a little bit of research before results day. Quite a lot of universities will already be advertising Clearing vacancies before results day, but even if they aren’t yet available, you can choose the universities and courses you might like, which are looking for lower grade tariffs than your firm and back up choices. Prepare a list and then you can look to see if they have vacancies as soon as you know that you have been put in Clearing.

Results day is typically incredibly chaotic and stressful, so it’s important that you’re prepared for the frenzy.

• Offers another chance to go to university this year
• A variety of courses are available at a range of different universities

• It’s harder to get onto more competitive degrees and/or the same
• You’re unlikely to get the same exact course and/or the same exact university so you’ll need to be flexible

Repeat Final Year
If you’re not in a place to revise independently, consider repeating the year. The procedure and requirements will vary between schools, so your first action should be to contact them and see how they can help. Otherwise, you can research what other colleges in your area might accept you and get in touch with them.

• Some of the knowledge will still be fresh in your mind, making it easier to grasp second time around
• If you repeat at your original school or college, you’ll likely have teachers that know you and are aware of your challenges and strengths, which is an added benefit. Alternatively, studying at a new school or college might give you the fresh start you need to fulfill your full potential in the final year

• Having to repeat the same subject matter could be tedious


Taking a year out and re-sitting your A-Levels in 2018 is an option for those who feel they can improve on their current grades. A number of colleges offer the service of just re-taking the exams or you may feel confident enough that you could just revise on your own. If you are not going to repeat the whole year, this would also give you the opportunity to do something else during the year.

You could get work experience or a job in a field of interest to you, go travelling and/or give back to the community by volunteering either abroad or at home. All of these would provide valuable life experiences that are impressive on personal statements and CVs. However, you should be submitting your UCAS application well before Christmas 2017 and revising throughout the year to ensure there isn’t a massive rush in Easter 2018.

• Granted you use your time wisely, you could exceed your expectations and get into a better university than you’d initially applied to, and it shouldn’t be as hard since some of the knowledge will still be fresh in your mind
• Most universities are sympathetic to those re-taking and consider it a demonstration of perseverance and motivation

• You’ll find it harder to get onto more competitive courses such as Law and medicine, and some universities might increase their standard offer. You should call the universities you had in mind to ensure that they’ll accept you on re-takes, just in case

GAP Year

Taking a GAP year presents you with a number of opportunities to choose from.

You could go travelling, which provides valuable life experiences and helps build self-confidence. You will not often get the chance to take a year out and travel around the world, so why not do it while you are young and don’t have any commitments. If you don’t have the money, you can work your way round the world, earning as you go and also gaining some work experience to put on your CV. Employers value life experiences gained during GAP years.

Alternatively there are lots of volunteering schemes which will provide you with some great opportunities to really give back to disadvantaged communities. Many students find these experiences life changing and you also gain valuable skills to add to your CV.

• You will gain so much from taking a GAP year as long as you use it wisely that you will feel it has been a worthwhile experience and it will also enhance your CV

• You may find it hard to come back and start studying again after a year off.

Degree Apprenticeship – you can still go to uni this year.
You may not have considered (or even heard of) this before, but the scheme enables you to complete both a degree and an apprenticeship at the same time and your employer pays both your tuition fees and your wages!

Certainly, with interest rates on loans going up over 6% and average debts of £50,000, it merits a serious look. This is a new programme, launched by the government in September 2015 and is becoming increasingly popular.

The application process for degree apprenticeships is the same as it would be for a job, applying direct to the employer. This means that they will still be recruiting in August/September so you might still be able to start your degree this year. With a degree apprenticeship, because you are working and studying at the same time, it takes longer to get your degree, but you will still end up with the same qualification and no debt.

Industries involved include banking, business and finance, construction, IT and aerospace engineering. However, it’s hard work, with 80% spent of your time spent in the workplace and 20% at university. Have a look through the degree apprenticeship section of The Scholarship Hub to find out more.

• Free degree
• Get paid while you study
• You can apply all year round
• Extensive work experience coupled with a full bachelor’s or master’s degree not only gives you a head start in your chosen profession but also demonstrates a high level of determination and motivation to potential employers

• A degree apprenticeship requires hard work and dedication
• There are limited vacancies available and the programme is competitive
• You’ll still have to pay your living costs
• It could take up to 5 years to complete the degree as you’ll have to put a lot of time and energy into both

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