Low A-level results?

If you didn't get the grades you wanted in your A-levels, chances are you feel like it's the end of the world, especially if all your friends passed and your parents have gone ballistic. The Mix helps you figure out your options.

Girl opening her exam results with a friend

The moment of truth

I got lower A-levels than I expected

Firstly, don’t despair; loads of successful people didn’t excel in their exams the first time round. The important thing is to not let it get you down too much. Try and find a positive way to deal with the situation.

Secondly, there are still several avenues for you to explore, so think about all of them. The most important thing to remember is that you should avoid making hasty decisions. Don’t get panicked into making an unsuitable choice; sometimes it’s better to take time off and get it right, rather than settle for second best.

Who can I talk to?

Start by having a very honest chat with your teachers and your careers officer, to work out why you didn’t get the grades you wanted.

You can call the national results helpline on 0808 100 8000. Calls are free from landlines and the helpline offers information and advice on your options, and issues like resits, UCAS, funding and moving away from home.

What are my options?

  • Appeal: It’s possible that your paper was badly marked and the examiner made a mistake. If you think this is the case, ask to appeal.
  • Resits: If you were ill, panicked in the exam, or just didn’t work hard enough, you might wish to consider resits.
  • Clearing: If you wanted to go to university or college, but didn’t get the grades, it may still be possible to find a similar course with lower entry requirements. This is known as the Clearing process. Look for courses listed in the newspapers or visit the UCAS website.
  • Alternative qualifications: Study for BTECs, or NVQs, or train with modern apprenticeships or City and Guilds. It’s best to chat with someone at your local careers service. As well as being recognised by employers, some qualifications can count towards your points needed to get into university.
  • Gap year: Take some time out to work, travel, teach, learn a new language, or volunteer. More information can be found our gap year section.
  • Get a job: This will allow you to get some cash coming in while you decide on your next move. You may even want to consider it as the first rung on your career ladder. Look through our getting a job section for some more ideas.

What about in Scotland?

Most of the advice still applies, especially with university applications as you’ll still use UCAS. However for advice specific to your qualifications visit the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) or call the national results helpline on 0808 100 8000.

Next Steps

  • UCAS processes your university applications - from the very first form, right through to results day.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


results day


Updated on 29-Sep-2015