A-level results: what to do now
By Matthew Plowright
August 16 2007
Tens of thousands of sixth formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have just received their long awaited A-level results.
This year has shown another rise in the number of students getting a pass grade at A level and a significant increase in the amount of students achieving an A grade with one in four students making the top grade.
So, while many will be elated, safe in the knowledge that they achieved the necessary grades to match their offer and begin studying at their first-choice university, others will feel disappointed, having not got the grades they needed.
But whether you got straight As or didn't quite make the grades you were hoping for, it's important to know what to do next.
What to do if you've made the grade
If you've managed to achieve the grades required by your first-choice university and have already accepted their offer, then congratulations – it's time to pop open the champagne.
The admissions tutor at the university of your choice will receive your exam results from Ucas, the university admissions service and – if your grades match the conditions of the offer made to you your place will be confirmed automatically. You will receive notification of this from your university in the post in due course.
1. Make sure you've accepted your offer
If you still haven't accepted your offer, then you must do so before Tuesday August 22. If you don't reply to an outstanding offer by this date, it will be automatically declined by the university.
It is possible to reject your firm offer and take up your insurance offer. However, you cannot accept your insurance offer without first being released by your first-choice university. Contact the admissions tutor at your first-choice university to see if you can be released and ask your insurance offer university about your next step.
2. Thinking of taking a gap year? Talk to your admissions tutor
If you have a firm offer of a place at university starting this year, have made the grades but decide you want to defer your place for a year, get in touch with the admissions tutor at your first-choice university as soon as possible.
Most universities look favourably on gap years, provided they feel the student will benefit from their time away from their studies. However, they are not obliged to hold your place for you until next year, even if you have already accepted.
3. Apply for funding
Even if your place is confirmed and you're all set to start this year, there's still plenty that needs to be sorted out before you begin university. If you think you may be eligible for student loans and grants then it's still not too late to apply for funding.
4. Choose your bank and cards wisely
Going to university is an extremely expensive business and never more so than this year, with tuition fees rising to 3,000 a year at many UK universities. According to a recent study by NatWest, sixth formers starting three-year university courses this autumn expect to graduate in 2009 with debts of more than 33,000.
Making the most of your money while at university has therefore never been more important. During fresher's week you will be bombarded by offers from banks and credit card providers and it can be very difficult to know which products to choose.
To help make your life easier, MSN Money has the tools and advice you need to find the best student accounts, credit cards, insurance and loan deals.
5. Ensure you're insured
If you're moving away from home for the first time then you probably haven't thought too much about insuring your possessions before, as they would have been covered by your parents' policies.
However, research shows that one in three students will be a victim of crime at some point during their time at university, with student accommodation a prime target for burglars. Campuses and student areas often have relatively high crime rates and are left unoccupied for long periods of the day and night. Students also own a lot of portable electronic items which are highly prized by thieves.
You may be covered by your parents' home contents policy, but you should check this carefully before settling into your new digs. Be particularly careful if you plan to leave your belongings at university during the holidays – many parental policies only cover your possessions during term-time.
Look closely at the level of cover, potential excesses and the insurer's policy on security. It may be that the limit on your parents' policy will not cover all possessions, particularly more expensive items such as laptops, jewellery and bikes.
If you're moving into a university halls of residence your possessions may be insured as part of your accommodation charge. Check with your university's accommodation office beforehand.
Again, during fresher's week you will be inundated with leaflets from banks and firms offering student insurance deals. Make sure you read the small print carefully and check for exclusions that may stop you from making a successful claim. Pay particular attention to high-value possessions, such as laptops, as you may well have to pay an additional fee to include them in your policy.
Remember, your bank or high-street insurer probably doesn't offer the best deal. Many firms offer online discounts. It pays to do your research thoroughly.
What to do if you haven't made the grade
If you open the results envelope this morning only to find that your grades didn't quite match up to your offer, then don't panic. You may well still be accepted at your first-choice university and, if not, there are still plenty of other options available to you.
1. Your first-choice university may still accept you
Even if your grades don't match the conditions of the offer made to you, you may well still be accepted by your first-choice university.
An admissions tutor may decide to confirm your place even if you do not meet some of the conditions, particularly if you only narrowly fail to achieve the right grades. Remember that A-level results are only part of your overall application. Your personal statement and, if you had one, admissions interview, will also be taken into account when assessing your case.
If you have only narrowly missed the conditions of your offer, telephone your university or college as soon as possible and let them know your situation. It might also be worth talking to your sixth form tutors at school, as they may be able to help press your case to the relevant university.
You can also check the status of your application online using Ucas' Track system. This will let you know whether your first-choice university has decided to confirm your place. The admissions tutor will always contact you by post or phone to inform you of the university's final decision.
2. Can you appeal against your results?
It is possible to apply for one or all of your papers to be re-marked, but this must be done through your school – you cannot apply directly to an exam body.
The first thing to do is to talk to your teachers, who should be able to offer your advice about whether to apply for a re-mark. If your school is willing to support your case, it will then apply to the awarding body for your papers to be re-assessed.
Bear in mind that your grades could go down as well as up if your paper is re-marked, so only lodge an appeal if you are fairly confident you have not been treated fairly by the markers.
3. What happens if you are declined a place by your first-choice university?
If you miss the grades for your first-choice university and the admissions tutor decides not to offer you a place, then you have a number of options open to you.
If you are unsuccessful but meet the offer of your second-choice university, you will be offered a place there. Ucas will send your results to the admissions tutor at your second-choice university automatically, but it's worth calling them as well to let them know your situation.
You can use Ucas' online Track service to check whether or not your place has been confirmed.
You may decide not to accept your second-choice university's offer of a place. If so, then make sure you inform them that you will not be taking up their offer.
If you decide to decline the offer, then you are eligible for Clearing (see below for more information). Alternatively, you may decide to reapply next year but you will have to start from the beginning of the application process –ie resubmit an application to Ucas with your personal statement, references etc.
4. What happens if you are declined a place by both your first- and second-choice universities?
If neither of your two designated universities decide to offer you a place for the coming academic year, then you are automatically eligible for Clearing (see below for more information).
5. What is Clearing and how do I apply?
Clearing is a service run by Ucas to help applicants find vacancies that haven't yet been filled on university and college courses. If you have been declined offers by your choice of universities prior to receiving your A-level results, decided to turn down your offers or failed to make the grades and were not offered a place at either of your designated universities, then you are automatically eligible to enter Clearing. Ucas will automatically send you a Clearing passport – if you did not hold any offers prior to receiving your results you will have received this last month. You can also find out your Clearing passport number on the Ucas website from Thursday August 17.
Clearing is basically a massive list of all university and college courses which still have vacancies. It is published on the Ucas website, as well as in The Independent and The Independent on Sunday newspapers.
If you have received your Clearing passport number, then have a look at the list and if you see a course that you would like to apply for, contact the relevant university or college and submit an application. It's best to do this yourself – either on the phone or in person – as the admissions tutor will almost certainly want to speak to you to find out why you want to apply for the course. You will also need your original Ucas application number when applying for places through Clearing.
If a university or college offers you a place through Clearing, they will ask you to send – or hand them in person – your Clearing passport. Don't do this unless you are 100% sure you want to accept the offer, however, as it is extremely problematic to get your passport back once you've handed it to the university.
Once the university or college admissions office has received your Clearing passport, it will automatically inform Ucas. You will receive a confirmation letter, but can also track your application using the online Track service.
6. Can I reapply next year?
If you fail to find a course through Clearing, you can always reapply next year. However, you will have to start from the beginning of the application process.
7. Where should I go for advice?
Your school or sixth-form college is probably the best place to start. Your teachers or sixth-form tutors will be happy to offer you advice and, because they know you, it is likely to be more personal than that offered by national helplines or advice services.
However, many students may not feel comfortable talking to their teachers or tutors. If this is the case, then there are a number of helplines offering advice and support.
For clear, impartial and confidential information and advice about your exam results, phone the National Exam Results helpline on 0808 100 8000.
Ucas' website contains a wealth of practical information about the university application process
The government website www.direct.gov.uk also offers tips and advice.
Please note that the information provided in this article is by no means definitive and it is essential to seek expert support and advice if you have any questions or concerns.
Source - http://money.uk.msn.com/student/fundingandloans/loans/articl e.aspx?cp-documentid=4758738
Edited by ~*Thamizhan*~ - 16 August 2007 at 6:22am