What Actually Happens On A Level Results Day?

Share article posted on July 27, 2017

A level results

This year A level results day is on Thursday 17 August.   Westminster Tutors students can either phone or come into the college from 9 am.  External candidates can either come into Westminster Tutors or email for their results.

Sometimes students hear the outcome of their university application before they have even heard what their A level results are.  If this is the case, don’t assume you have got the required A level grades as your uni may have admitted you despite a drop in grades, so you should still check your A level results.  

UCAS applications

UCAS Track normally opens from around 8 am for students to check if their university offers are ‘unconditional’ (meaning you are in!) or ‘unsuccessful’ (meaning you might need some advice, so read on....). 


What to do before A level results day

• Make sure all your contact details are correct and up-to-date on UCAS Track

• If you are worried that you might end up in Clearing, do some early research on Clearing vacancies on the UCAS website from 5 July

• You might also want to sign up for the UCAS Direct Contact service, which enables universities to contact you directly if you are in Clearing but they are happy to offer you a place on a particular degree course

What to do on results day

• Make sure you are at home and/ or near your school so that you can access support and contact people easily by phone and on the internet

• If you are abroad (definitely not recommended!) make sure that you have a good internet connection and a reliable/ affordable way of making phone calls to the UK as universities and UCAS will only be prepared to talk to the applicants themselves, or the person you gave ‘nominated access’ on your UCAS application

What happens on the UCAS website on results day?

• Students need to log in to UCAS Track to check the outcome of their university application.  If you are not sure what your decision on Track means, check the appropriate section below.

• If applicants achieve grades above the grades required for their firm choice offer they will have the opportunity to use Adjustment, which enables them to look at finding a place at a better university.  If universities have places in Adjustment they will list them on their own websites.  Adjustment opens at 9 am on results day and runs until 31 August.

• On results day the UCAS website also gives a live list of all Clearing places, which goes live from about 7 am.  A full listing of Clearing places is also printed in the Telegraph newspaper, and universities list their own Clearing vacancies on their websites.  You will be notified on Track if you are eligible either for Clearing or for Adjustment.

If you get the required A level grades for your firm choice university and UCAS Track states confirmed (UF = unconditional firm choice): Congratulations you automatically have a confirmed place!!!! 

You may need to send an acceptance letter back to your university (you will be informed if this is necessary), but you are definitely going to the university of your dreams and you don’t need to worry.

If you have narrowly missed the A level grades for your firm university choice but no decision is stated on UCAS Track (CF = your firm offer is still conditional):

If your firm choice is not showing as confirmed or unsuccessful, you should telephone your university immediately to find out what is happening/ if the university can be persuaded to accept you. Students should make this call themselves, but after that, your school UCAS advisers should be on hand to help if they need to appeal to the university and make the case for the university to accept you.  

However, it may be that the university still hasn’t received a certain result and has been unable to make a decision. Results are supposed to be transferred electronically direct from the exam board to the universities but sometimes they do not automatically transfer, in which case your school will need to send a transcript or confirmation of results.

If Track states your firm choice university has been unsuccessful (REJ = unsuccessful/ rejected): Unfortunately, this means the university has already made a decision and will not accept you.  Disappointing as it may be, the decision cannot be reversed.    

The only exception to this is if you have very narrowly missed your grade and put in for a priority re-mark which changes your A level grade so you meet your required offer.  If you are just a few UMS marks off the higher A level grade it is definitely worth asking your school to put you through for a re-mark.  It is important that you do this as quickly as possible as any change of grade needs to be before 31 August for the university to accept you.  If you have put in for a priority re-mark, also make sure your university knows you are doing this.

Track will automatically show your insurance place is confirmed and you can rest easy as your place is guaranteed, although your university may want you to send back an acceptance form. 

If you have missed the A level grades for your insurance choice and no decision is showing on Track: 

It may be that there is still an opportunity for your school advisers to appeal on your behalf for admission; or it may be that the university is still awaiting grade information, in which case you need to ask your school to send it.

If you do not want to take up your university place and want to enter Clearing instead: (technically this is not possible!!!)

Students are obliged to take up their confirmed place, and they can’t use Clearing.  However, the reality is that if you have had a major change of heart, the university cannot force you to go there and it may be possible to get them to release you into Clearing.  Before you do this, though, you should consider your options very carefully and make sure you fully understand the risks.

If you do want to be released from your confirmed University neither UCAS nor your school can do this for you.  You will need to contact your university in person and see if they can release, ie reject, you.  If they are able to do this, you need to be aware that the UCAS system can take 24 hours or more to update.  This means that you will still not get a Clearing number instantaneously and many universities are not willing to discuss offering places if applicants are not already in Clearing.  This, in turn, means that there is a risk that the place you liked in Clearing might have already gone before you get your Clearing number.

What happens in Clearing on results day?

If you have been unsuccessful with your university choice, you will automatically receive a Clearing Number, which will be shown on UCAS Track when it opens on the morning of results day.  Clearings listings also go live and are available on the UCAS website and university websites.

Students should immediately telephone universities which have a degree course they want to apply for.  They should have their have UCAS ID and Clearing Number ready, and be prepared for a wait on the phone!  You will need to be persistent but press ahead, keep your spirits up and be ready for a possible mini interview on the phone.  
Clearing moves very quickly so it is important to strike while the iron is hot. You can only accept one Clearing offer by replying through Track, and cannot choose any Clearing offer before 3pm on results day.  However, you can telephone as many universities as you like to try to obtain offers from them, so this is why you need to be positive and get going as soon as possible on the morning of results day. 

Before you make your Clearing choice you do need to be sure you want to study that degree course at that university. 

If you have worked hard and made lots of calls in the morning, you should now have a couple of hours to calm down, do some further research and carefully weigh up your options.  Make sure you get guidance from school advisors, discuss with your family and get the lowdown from friends who may be familiar with the university or degree course.   

It is possible to find a good university place in Clearing so keep your spirits up and get going!