If you’re reading this post then you probably are feeling quite upset and despondent that you haven’t got the grades you so hoped for – we feel for you. A-Levels are tough for 16 to 18 year-olds and especially as you have three or four subjects you’re trying to get to grips with and study for. Your teachers may have given you a predicted grade based on all the available evidence of your studies, however, they are not always accurate and it comes down mainly to how you perform on exam day – except coursework.
Universities need to make sure that you are capable of studying to a high level in your chosen discipline, and that you meet certain basic requirements to give you a firm grounding for your course.
For example, you won’t be accepted onto a HE foreign language course without doing well in at least one language like French or Spanish at A-Level – it would simply be too hard for you and you’d have to drop out. Some universities will need you to get exact ABB, BBB, BCC grades or similar, however many will convert them all into several UCAS points to gain acceptance onto a particular course. This is especially true where the course you want to take isn’t offered at A-Level such as Philosophy or Tourism.
Here are some options on what to do next if you’ve fallen short in either exact grades, or UCAS points as a whole:
- If you’ve fallen well below expected grades and you can’t find a university willing to accept you onto your desired course, there is a chance you’ll have to resit you’re A-Levels again for another year and aim to improve. Not the best option and you will more than likely feel somewhat of a failure going back to the same college, learning the same things, with the same teachers but with students a year younger than you.
- Your actual grades are not the final consideration unless you’re applying to top universities like Oxford or Cambridge who are much stricter on entry requirements than most. There is a wealth of other things that are taken into consideration, such as the strength and passion of your application letter, relevant extracurricular studies, work experience positions, grades for completed coursework, teacher references, and strong GCSE results.
- Go through UCAS Clearing. If a student doesn’t get offered the places they want due to their predicted or actual grades, Clearing provides a comprehensive list of every university course in the country which has not been filled and is willing to take less academically capable students on to fill them.
- Take an ‘Access to HE’ course. There are hundreds of courses that you can go on that are open to adults too, which prepare you for study at university and show the team who makes the decisions on your application to uni that you are indeed capable of learning to a high level. On successful completion, you will be given a Level 3 Diploma which is your ticket into university.
- Get in touch with your university of choice and explain what has happened. They will be sympathetic to your cause and may ask you to provide an explanation which will be taken into consideration. Some universities will let you know closer to the start of the course if all places have managed to be filled, and if not there may be room for you to join even without the required grades – don’t forget they will make over £9,000 from you each year and won’t turn that down lightly.
It’s not the end of the world as you can see if you didn’t meet your predicted grades.
If none of the above options are helpful to you, you may even consider taking a gap year to figure out what you’re going to do or take up full-time employment if you’ve discovered higher and further education just isn’t right for you.