Keeping your cool on exam results day

IT’S only natural to feel nervous on exam results day. But staying calm will help you, whatever happens, as you take your next steps.


For many, it will be a great experience as they receive confirmation that all of their hard work has been worth it and they’ve secured the grades required for their first- choice university or college. But for others it can bring disappointment and uncertainty about what lies ahead. Not getting the results you were expecting can feel like the end of the world but you shouldn’t panic because whatever your grades, there will still be great options open to you and it might be you find your dream course somewhere you hadn’t previously considered. Try to remain calm, as you need to stay focused to be able to consider your next steps properly and you may need to make quick decisions if you are offered alternative university or college places.


Remember that you are not alone, as thousands of other students up and down the country are likely to be going through the same experience. Being prepared can help, so when you go to collect your results, make sure you have your paperwork and UCAS reference numbers to hand in case you need to make some calls.


Firstly, if you’ve just missed getting the grades you need for your first choice of university or college course then it’s definitely worth contacting them directly and asking if they will still accept you. Some will make exceptions and will accept students with lower marks. If they can’t give you a place on the course you originally applied for, they may offer you a different one.


Check the situation with your insurance choice – if you’ve got the grades you needed then you will have a place and if you haven’t then they may still make you an offer. Always keep an eye on Track – the name of UCAS’ online tracking system – where you can see how your application is progressing.


If you haven’t got a place and you still want to go to university, you can use Clearing, which is available through the UCAS website from results day. This is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have. Clearing vacancies are updated regularly by universities and colleges and if you don’t find the course you’re looking for straight away, it’s worth trying again later. It may be that you can find the same course available somewhere else with lower entry grades or you might want to consider a different subject.


If you are flexible with the location, then that is likely to increase the choices available. You don’t have to stick with your original idea, so speak to an adviser at school about what else you could do or contact the university to find out more about a different course that you may have discounted before. Once you’ve found a suitable one, you can then contact the university or college directly to see if they will accept you.


If you still want to go to university but you can’t find a course or your heart is still set on your first choice, then look into whether you can re-sit your exams and re-apply for next year. University is not the only option, so think about other paths you may not have considered before. Vocational training may be a quicker route to your chosen career and provide valuable on-the-job experience.


If you are still unsure what to do then consider a gap year to buy yourself some thinking time. You may find your priorities change. This can also be a good chance to get some work experience or learn new skills.


Finally, put it all into perspective. You could only do your best and as long as you did that, family and friends will be proud of you, no matter what happened on results day.