A-Level Results Day 2020

It has been one of the most challenging years on record for sixth forms and colleges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no exams or assessments taking place, thousands of students will find out this Thursday –the 13th August, whether they have secured a place on a higher education course.

A level results day is a pressure-cooker situation for all involved – students, teachers and parents, and carers. This year it has a new dynamic. Grades have been derived on the predictions of teachers, alongside a ranking of all students taking that subject at each school or college.

In addition, students (and their parents and carers) have understandably been asking questions about what life on campus will look like in September, as social distancing measures continue.

These are certainly strange and uncertain times.

What to expect on 13 August…

Universities and colleges usually communicate their decisions around 8am on A level results day. These will appear on the applicant’s UCAS Track page and will say whether the applicant has been accepted at their firm choice university or not. Hitting ‘refresh’ repeatedly at 00.01 will not change this.

What are my grades?

It’s traditional for students to collect their grades from their school or college. Individual schools and colleges are free to set their own plans about how to handle results day safely following government guidelines about social distancing. If things don’t go as planned, it is vital to take advice and guidance from teachers before deciding the next steps.

Making decisions

Universities and colleges receive and process exam results ahead of results day. The results are embargoed so there’s no chance of finding out outcomes in advance. Central to the work going on behind the scenes are judgments around how many students can still be accepted on to a course even if they have narrowly failed to meet the conditions of their offer.

So, with the exception of the most competitive courses, there’s a good chance an applicant can still go to their firm choice university even if they drop a grade.

Doing better than expected?

If the student has met and exceeded the conditions of their firm choice offer, they can use Adjustment. It’s entirely optional but gives the student a chance to look at alternatives – potentially courses at other universities that were previously considered out of reach.

Not done as well as expected?

If your results mean that you have not secured a university place, then don’t panic. Clearing ​is an opportunity to apply for a course that still has vacancies and there will be lots of opportunities to choose from – ucas.com/undergraduate/results-confirmation-and-clearing/what-clearing

Further reading


Article author – Ian McGarry, GM Higher Information, Advice, and Guidance Manager.

In a higher education admissions career spanning over 15 years, Ian has managed results day operations at four different UK universities.

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