Stressed student staring at a macbook

A-level results day has arrived but the brown envelope doesn’t contain the results you hoped for. So, what are the next steps you need to take?

Above all else, it is important to remember you are not a failure. This might be unexpected; however, it is not the end of the world and there are still ways to reach your academic ambitions.  

Thankfully, there are a range of options available to A-level students who don’t quite make the grades and we’ve compiled a list of the best solutions below.  

Go through clearing

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The most common route for students failing to meet university entry requirements is to go through clearing. Essentially, there is a way for students who do not reach the expected grades to still find a place on a university course.  

Operating from July-September, clearing allows students who don’t receive any offers the chance to communicate with universities offering spare places on courses. So long as you are flexible on subject and location, there is a good chance you can enrol on another course you like.

Extra advice: read prospectuses carefully and don’t make the mistake of jumping into a course you’re not 100% certain about. University is a big investment and so you need to make the right decision for you. Why not take a look at our university course listings for more information?   

Consider foundation year courses

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A foundation year is designed to fill any knowledge gaps for students who fail to meet the course entry requirements. Normally, a course offering a foundation year involves an extra year of study before beginning the full university course.   

Essentially, a foundation option is a gateway into higher education, without needing to re-sit exams. Sounds appealing, right? But there are a few things you need to consider first. Not all universities and courses offer this option, and seeing as it is not a A-level substitute, institutions still require reasonable results.   

Resit A-level exams

If you are disappointed with your results; one option is to re-sit your exams. If you’ve failed a specific module or have your heart set on a certain course, it might be suitable to re-take the exam to gain better grades.  

A word of warning: before committing to a re-sit, it is important that you have the time, funds and willpower to make it through.   

Take a gap year and defer entry

Young girl jumping on a mountain whilst traveling

Do you dream of travelling the world? There is no reason why you can’t indulge in a spot of globetrotting before heading to university. If you are experiencing study burnout taking some time out for a global escapade could be the answer.

Before jetting off be sure to check that your potential university choices are happy with you taking a gap year (most won’t have a problem) and ensure you can be around for the re-application cycle for the next academic year.

Rethink your career path 

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Underperforming in A-levels might be a sign that you should consider your academic pathway. Instead of panicking, turn it around and use it as an opportunity to re-focus on the next steps. Is the course you plan to study suitable for you?

There are various degree formats available that may be more appropriate, for example, part-time or distance learning programmes allow you to study alongside working in your full-time job.       

Find the right course for me!