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What to do if your child's results don’t go to plan

Once exams are out of the way, the wait for results feels like the longest time! If the results don’t go to plan, don’t panic! As a parent you play a key role in supporting and encouraging your child to think and consider all the options that are available to them. Here are our top tips for what to do next!


Speak to their teachers

On results day there will be lots of your child’s teachers floating about that you can speak to. See if you can have a quick chat to one of them if you are worried that their results might have an impact on their options going forward. Teachers are likely to know whether they’ll still be considered for a certain course or subject and might be able to reassure you that getting a 4 instead of a 5 won’t affect any of the choices they’ve already made.

Get in touch with the school or college your child was hoping to go to

Don’t assume the worst – there is still a chance that your child’s 6th form college or school will still accept them if they didn’t achieve the grades originally asked of them, and they’ll be able to continue with their plans. However, if for some reason they can’t accept your child on a particular course any more, they will be able to give you a list of viable options so that they can still continue to study. School and college leaders also want the best for your child, and will work with you both to make sure they help find the best solution for them.

If your child did not achieve above a grade 4 in Maths or English, a lot of colleges will still allow them to start their academic year, and re-take these exams alongside their other subjects.

Ask for a re-mark or re-sit

Your child’s chosen institution might be able to hold a place for them if you request a re-mark or if they plan to re-sit any exams. With re-marks, you need to be aware that your grade can go down as well as up, so it is only recommended as an option if you really think it could make the difference. Your child’s school will be able to submit their name to the exam board on your behalf. If your child needs the grade to secure their place at 6th form, a lot of schools and colleges will allow them to start without confirmation of their grades.

If you choose to re-sit an exam, then you can either wait until the next round of examinations or you can privately take the exam again. Both cost, so you will need to ask your child’s school for advice.

Change your options

Although not for everyone, it might be worth asking your child’s school or college if they would be accepted with their current grades if they change their subject choices. It might be a simple swap – for example if they needed a certain grade to take Psychology, then why not see if they could be accepted to take Sociology instead? The other option is swapping some A Level courses for BTECs; many universities still accept these on points based systems, so your child can continue to study and achieve their goals. If your child is not interested in going to university, then it might be worth discussing other options such as T Levels, apprenticeships or full time employment, although only if it works with your child’s future plans.

A Levels

University options – choices and clearing

Your child will have accepted a first and second choice university via UCAS, so even if their first choice declines their place after they receive their A Levels, their second choice might still offer them a place. You can always call either of these choices and ask if there is a way that your child could still be accepted if they combine their degree or take a slightly different subject.

If neither of your child’s choices accept their place then you can enter a system called clearing. Clearing is run through UCAS, and allows all the universities who still have places to advertise them to those who no longer have a place confirmed. UCAS will automatically supply your child with a clearing number so that they can start searching for the course they were planning to do or other courses that require a slightly lower grading criteria. Be prepared for your child to spend a long time on the phone and take note of the informal offers that other institutions are offering them so they can make a measured decisions about where to go. The important thing is to not panic!

As with GCSEs, your child can ask for a re-mark of any exams. You can pay to have a ‘priority review of marking’, which takes around 15 days, instead of the usual 20 if you child needs their grade reviewed urgently in order to accept a place.

Take a gap year

For a lot of people, taking a gap year can give them the breathing space to work out their next move. Whether your child works, travels or a mixture of both, it can open their eyes to new experiences. They might also want to take this break from education to re-take their A Levels, so that they can re-apply for a different course or to a different university the following year. The important thing is to still have a plan, with a goal for your child to be working towards, so sit down together and map this out so that they can make the most of their gap year.

Reviewed: July 2021

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