A Level Results Day

The Results Day Survival Guide

Everything you need to help you on the big day, whether you're getting GCSE or A Level results

The work is done, the exams are sat and you’ve had a little bit of time away from school or college. Now it’s time to find out how you got on. Results day can be a bit of a rollercoaster whatever your grades are, but if you know what to expect and what to do if things don’t go according to plan, you’ll be ready for anything.


Before you do anything else on results day, have some proper breakfast. Yes, we know you’re not hungry. But you might have a long, emotional day ahead – even if you get all the grades you wanted, you’ll still be saying goodbye to an important phase of your life and all the people involved in it – so it’s handy to get some fuel on board. (No, Red Bull and chocolate doesn’t count as breakfast.)

Kit List

When you head into school, make sure you take:

  1. A fully charged phone
  2. Snacks and water
  3. Pen and paper
  4. Copies of your offer letters
  5. Contact details for schools/colleges /universities

The last three are so you can start hitting the phones if things haven’t quite worked out, but you can always go home and start making calls from there.

Picking up your results

How are you actually going to get your results?

GCSEs: you’ll collect them at school, but you don’t have to open them there. If you stay, your teachers will be on hand to offer advice and of course you’ll be with your friends; if you go, you’ll have some privacy. Alternatively, you could find somewhere quiet at school to open the envelope, then rejoin everyone afterwards. Think about what you’d like to do and let people know your plans ahead of time.

A Levels: UCAS Track opens at 8am and you can check the status of your offers then – the website takes a pretty big hit at 07:59, so you might need to gnaw your nails for a few extra minutes, sorry! Once you have an update, you might need to go into school for confirmation of your full results, or just to see everyone. Or, you can stay off Track altogether and open the envelope at school for maximum drama.

Don’t forget that on results day there are often press photographers lurking around, so be aware that you might get snapped. Get that ‘I Win!’ pout ready.

Got the Grades?

Congrats! You should be very proud of yourself. Time to phone home with the good news.

GCSEs: if you’re planning on going to Sixth Form or college, you should have received info on confirming your place and what happens next; your teachers will also be able to advise you. But for now, relax, celebrate and look forward to the next stage of your life.

A Levels: UCAS Track will eventually update (it can take a little while) to show that your first choice uni has accepted your offer. Hurrah! After that, wait for them to get in touch with all the info you’ll need to start preparing for student life. If you have any questions, leave it a couple of days so that they can help students who missed out on their grades.


If your A Level grades are higher than expected, you can apply to other courses/unis with your new, improved grades. Applying has no impact on your existing uni place and you don’t have to accept any offers. There’s no obligation to go through adjustment and if you’ve spent ages choosing a uni you might be very happy to stay there – but if you want to find out more, head to the UCAS website.

Missed Out?

If things have slipped a little, the important thing is to stay calm. There are lots of options!

GCSEs: if you’ve applied to a college or Sixth Form, or for an Apprenticeship, contact the relevant people – they might well accept your grades anyway. You also have the option to resit exams, or to have them remarked. Your teachers will be able to advise you on all of this.

A Levels: again, your first call should be to your unis of choice, as they may accept you, or offer you an alternative course; or you might have the grades for your insurance offer, in which case, see ‘Got the Grades?’ above and start celebrating. Not sure what’s happening? Don’t wait for Track, it’s agony: get on the phone ti your unis of choice, there are literally thousands of well-trained advisors all over the country waiting to help you.


Clearing is a process that allocates left-over uni places to students and is as much a part of the uni application cycle as submitting your UCAS form. If you end up with no offers, here’s what you do:

  1. Have a small cry- there’s no shame in it, and you’ll feel better
  2. Dust yourself off, hug someone you love and jump into clearing (if you still want to go to uni)
  3. Universities advertise clearing places online, in the national press and through the UCAS website. Start working down the lists and calling unis, with your UCAS number and results to hand. Be calm, be courteous, be confident – the people on the end of the phone want to help you find a place
  4. Persevere – 49,100 students found places through clearing last year, and you can too!


You also have the option of taking another swing at your exams through resits. They’re a good option for some people because they have more confidence the second time around – talk to your teachers well ahead of results day to get advice and info.

Gap Years

After A Levels you might fancy taking some time out, even if you got the grades you wanted – or if you missed out, perhaps you’d like to regroup, maybe resit some exams and apply again. A gap year can come in many forms: you could work, travel, volunteer or maybe all three. It’s a great way to see the world, get skills and experience and recharge the batteries.

See UCAS.com for info on how to defer your uni place for a year, visit gapyear.com for ideas on what to do with those 365 days.

Where to Find Information

Your first port of call in the lead up to results day, and on the day itself, is UCAS.com. Make sure you’re familiar with the results process, it will save you stress on the day (and you can start celebrating sooner).

The national press has lots of info in the lead up to results day, so keep an eye on the Independent, Guardian, Times and Telegraph (which publishes clearing vacancies)

The Student Room (thestudentroom.co.uk) is an excellent source of info and support around results day.You can also chat to other students in their forums to get some advice from your peers.


Whether you nailed your exams or had some issues, give yourself a pat on the back: you’ve made it through school, or school plus college. That’s a big deal. There are always, always options at this point: be prepared, think about what your backup plans are and you’ll be in great shape for results day. Good luck!

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