All the advice you need ahead of A-level results day

A-level results loom. Don't panic, says Keele University recruitment and admissions director Robbie Pickles:

This week, students across the West Midlands will be preparing to receive their results, including for A Level, BTEC and T Level.

The past few years have been a challenging time to learn – through lockdown and restrictions – and everybody recognises the brilliant work students have done to get to this point.

Thursday’s results will be a testament to that achievement and the work teachers and school staff, as well as parents, supporters and friends, have done to support students through this process.

For many, results day is the next step to university. Here at Keele we’re getting ready to receive thousands of phone calls and emails from students confirming their place or applying this week. Up here close to the Staffordshire-Shropshire border, we’re looking forward to hearing from students from across the West Midlands and will do everything we can to be flexible and provide support to those who need it.

Approaching Thursday, a word you’ll hear a lot is ‘Clearing’. Clearing has changed considerably over the last decade: originally considered as a way for students to find university places after missing their target grades, these days students are just as likely to be changing their successful application to apply elsewhere, or might even be applying for the first time. Whatever the circumstance, it can mean lots of students having a very busy few days after receiving their results.

With that in mind, I’ve asked our team at Keele to share some thoughts about what happens on the day:

1. This year, UCAS will start updating application records from 8.15am. In some cases your university of choice may have confirmed your place even if you didn’t get the exact grades they asked for – you won't usually know your actual results until you receive them. The time you can get your results may vary school by school.

2. Results day can be busy and emotional – for all sorts of reasons – and people often have other commitments on the day. We know life doesn’t stand still this week and students may be on holiday, working, or otherwise unavailable. However, as well as collecting results, there may be circumstances where students need additional time to speak to universities.

3. On results day, most universities set up a special call centre to handle the high volume of applicant enquiries. However, in many cases universities won’t just be available on the phone – there might be other ways to get in touch such as email, online chat or social media.

4. If you are exploring Clearing, course availability at universities can change over the day (and beyond). As usual, entry grades at different universities will vary, but at individual universities they may also vary from the typical non-Clearing published entry grades as well. Lots of universities publish information about Clearing in advance of the day and often update their websites during results day as course availability changes.

5. If you are speaking to universities, there may be a lot of information to remember. In a short space of time you may receive many important details, possibly from multiple universities, about offers, dates and times of potential visits, or deadlines for responding. Chances are you’ll be using your phone to talk, so might not be able to rely on it to take notes.

6. The focus this week tends to be on results day itself, but finalising a university choice might take a little longer. As students might find themselves applying somewhere they haven’t yet seen, universities usually provide opportunities to look around. This could be on Friday or over the weekend, or possibly beyond in some cases.

7. UCAS generally provide standardised deadlines throughout the cycle for making applications and receiving offers. However, on Thursday in Clearing deadlines may vary by university and could be quite short. To help students keep track universities might provide this key information in writing, such as by email, so you can refer back to it.

Above all, universities know most people haven’t been through Clearing before! If in doubt, universities are usually ready for you to get in touch. At Keele our staff find it incredibly rewarding to help students take their next steps – to Keele or otherwise – and it’s always a great pleasure to support where we can.

Finally, whether your results day is straightforward or a little busier, take time to be proud of your achievements and celebrate them.

These are challenging qualifications and you have been learning in difficult circumstances. We wish you the very best of luck.

Keele University recruitment and admissions director Robbie Pickles

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