See our tips for parents here

P​reparation before 17th August

Awaiting results in and around A Level Results Day is an anxious time. Have a Plan B and C – in case Plan A doesn’t work out. Basically, be prepared. If you’re feeling stressed, talking to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling can make a big difference.

And go have some fun. You’ve worked hard so forget about your exams if you can!

A level results day anxiety message on a mobile

​Steps to take on and after 17th August

If you get the grades – congratulations! You can start preparing for the next chapter.

If you don’t get the grades – take a deep breath. You can do this. Start by talking to your school or college to discuss your options. Also talk to your parents or guardians too. They’re there to support you.

Our big recommendation is to go through clearing. Many students find alternative courses at other universities work out as well if not better than their original course. Be aware that the phone lines can be busy – so be patient. Also if you can find the direct number of the department at the faculty of your desired course, you may be able to have a direct conversation. Once you’re through to a university that will accept your grades, it is actually a straightforward and quick process.

There is a UCAS helpline which is brilliant if you have any questions around clearing.

Appealing is an option if you’re unhappy with your grades. Approach your school or college as they will do it on your behalf and let your university know so if they can hold your place they will. But remember what goes up can also come down i.e. you might find your grade/s might be marked down. So it’s a risk.

It could be that you will be asked to take a foundation course in a subject in order to get access to a course at an alternative university. This might seem like the long way round but it will make you far better prepared for the course in question, as well as academically generally. And far better than settling for a university or course you didn’t really want.

Defering and trying again is another option. If you are set on a particular career with specific qualifications, then this might be essential for you. Universities are happy to defer a place for a year so that students can retake their A​ levels or IB to make the grades. Make sure you’ve looked at all the alternatives first however. There might be just as good a university you could find via clearing for the current year.

Stay strong whatever happens. If you don’t get the grades, it’s normal to feel that you’ve failed and it’s hard not to compare your grades to those of your friends. This simply isn’t the case however. You just need to change direction. You can do this.