As we all know, the all important 2017 A Level results are either set to be released, or if you are reading this Thursday morning, released.
What is clear is that this is not the average year, and there could be more than a few surprises along the way.
Above: Advice from Head of 6th Form at Dubai British School, Louise Rolf
A four percent demographic dip in the UK has led experts to predict that there will more spaces to fill than ever at her universities; add to this the significant changes to the A Level courses themselves and it seems that results day 2017 should be very interesting indeed.
"As the results for 2017 represent the first cohort of students taking the new A Level specifications, students need to remember that there will be some surprises and disappointments – the examination boards have already warned people to expect that. It is important to remember that if overall results drop slightly, then every other pupils’ results will drop proportionally. You are being judged against what others have actually achieved, not against what students were expected to achieve on previous years’ results." (John Nolan, principal Sharjah English School)
If your results are lower than expected, this year more than any other, you might just be in luck!
If Your Results Are Lower Than Predicted
First off, given the demographic drop in the UK right now, there are four percent less 18 year-old's, than in previous years.
Experts predict that for all but the very top UK universities, grade expectations will be dropped in order to fill places.
If your results are very close to your targets, then contact the university of your choice directly in the first instance. The value of a personal approach, and the opportunity to discuss your case with a member of the admissions team, is invaluable." John Nolan, principal Sharjah English School
It is expected that most will reconsider their original offers and are likely to make offers to students who didn't quite make the grade they originally anticipated.
If you don't get the results- don't panic! Call your first choice uni and course- they may still want you or have a similar course with space available- do the same with your insurance choice. Brian Horwell, head of Secondary, Dubai British School
If your results are way off and/or you didn't get accepted into your university choices, then you need to decide if you want to proceed with further university options or possibly think about taking a 'year out/gap-year' or even working.
"Students do need to remember that direct access to university is not the only way to progress successfully in life. Re-sits, gap years, work experience and apprenticeships are all perfectly valid routes to ultimate academic and professional success." John Nolan, principal, Sharjah English School
If you decide to look at other university options then you need proceed via the UCAS Clearing system.
You will know you are in Clearing if your UCAS Track status says, 'You Are In Clearing,' or 'Clearing Has Started.'
Clearing is available from July to September every year and assists in matching up students who didn't get their university places with vacant university places.
"If you don't get in to your first two choices then UCAS will invite you to join clearing. Don't rush any decisions - take your time researching universities and courses before making a final decision. Also remember that it's not the end of the world- you can take time out/travel and resist exams the following year if you have your heart set on a particular course or career path." Brian Horwell, head of Secondary, DBS.
Previous years have shown that the Clearing website slows considerably on results day due to the volume of traffic, so don't panic if the site is slow to update!
Clearing vacancies are updated regularly, so if you do not find what you want, take a break and revisit the site later.
"The reality this year is that, apart from the very top dozen or so UK universities, many very reputable universities will still be able to offer places on the basis of results that may not quite have matched your targets. Up to 10% of university places will be awarded through the clearing process." John Nolan, principal Sharjah English School
Better Than Expected Results...
The UCAS adjustment service allows students to ‘upgrade’ their course choice should their results be better than estimated.
"If results, on the other hand are much better than expected, students always have the option of applying to universities other than their firm choice, through the UCAS adjustment process." John Nolan, principal Sharjah English School.
The Adjustment Portal is available from 17 August to 31 August and allows students to apply for further university placements with their grades.
According to UCAS, “you only have five 24 hour periods (including weekends) within this time to use it, starting from when your conditional firm (CF) offer changes to unconditional firm (UF), or on A level publication day – whichever is the later. If your offer goes UF less than five days before 31 August, you'll only have whatever time is left between then and 31 August.”
The Adjustment Process
If your results have met and exceeded the expectations of your chosen course requirements, then this year might just be your year.
Given the need this year to fill university spaces, it's expected that students who did well in their exams will have significantly more options to 'trade-up.'
First, you need to talk to a careers advisor at your school and discuss your options-
Next 'click' register on the Adjustment option on the UCAS Track website.
There's no vacancy list for Adjustment, however universities do list their course requirements, if you meet or exceed these, then contact the university to discuss your options. (At this point, remember to highlight you are only information gathering and NOT confirming any place.)
Students only have ONE Adjustment offer, so you need to be completely sure you want the place before proceeding.
If you are certain, then go ahead and accept, if the university agrees your UCAS Track will be updated with a new acceptance letter.
Congratulations you are now a university student!