Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) the information on this page is subject to change.
Two days before Results Day 2020, education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that, “By ensuring students have the safety net of their mock results, as well as the chance of sitting Autumn exams, we are creating a
triple lock process to ensure that they can have the confidence to take the next steps forward in work or education.”
Applying to both GCSE and A-level students, this announcement will have understandably stirred further confusion about what to expect on Results Day, and what this means for students in Clearing.
In light of this recent news, we’ve outlined the most essential bits of information you need to know.
UPDATE (21/08/2020) - For further information on changes to results since the government 'U-turn', please read ' University Applications 2020: COVID-19 Changes to Uni Entry'
What is the “triple lock”?
The triple lock is a process that will allow students to choose either their calculated grades, their mock results or have the option to “re-sit” Autumn exams for university entry - dependent on successful appeal.
What does it mean for Results Day on Thursday 13th August?
For Results Day, the impact “triple lock” will have is yet to be determined. Universities will have already received your grades and calculated how many students have “made it” on to their courses. There will now be a need to rework their calculations based on the fact that as many as 40% of students' grades may have been downgraded as part of the Ofqual moderation process.
Universities have been instructed to keep places open for students who have not achieved the grades they need through their calculated results and want to appeal. You will still receive your calculated grades - the ones provided by your teacher and moderated by Ofqual - as expected, but will be given the chance to appeal for your mock results to be counted instead and/or to re-sit your exams in Autumn.
What grades should I use for Clearing?
You should use the calculated grades you receive (those that are assessed by teachers and moderated by Ofqual) on the morning of Results Day.
If you decide to appeal and use your mock exam results, or choose to re-sit your exams in Autumn, you should advise the university when calling up to discuss a future place on a course. As universities have been instructed to keep places open, there will be some leniency, but you may also be able to get an offer with the grades you currently have.
What grades should I use for Adjustment?
For Adjustment you should use your calculated grades. Remember that using Adjustment is contingent upon whether you meet or exceed the conditions of your firm choice.
If you’re considering going into Adjustment, the best thing to do is to call up the universities you're interested in and get some verbal offers. Do not self-release until you’re clear on what your potential options are.
What mock exams count as part of the triple lock?
This will depend on what your school/college decides. Mock exams will only be taken into account if your school deems that they were taken under ‘exam-like’ conditions and can therefore validate them. There is expected to be further clarification on this from Ofqual in the days to come.
What counts as a “valid” mock?
Whilst Ofqual is yet to provide a definitive answer, the most important thing will be that the mock took place under strict exam conditions. “Mock exam” is quite a loose term and different schools/colleges do things differently - some have a strict approach to mimic what the real exams are like, and others adopt a more relaxed approach. If your mocks were very casually conducted, they’re unlikely to be accepted as “valid”, however there are alternative ways that your school or college can submit evidence on your behalf - for example coursework.
How do I appeal and make my mock grades count?
To get your mock results to count, you must notify your school or college of your intention to appeal and they will have to provide evidence of your mock results to their exam board.
The mock exam will have to meet a definition of a "valid" mock, which is to be set by exams regulator Ofqual.
Your school or college will then be required to submit evidence to their exam board to show the mock was valid, including evidence it was held under strict exam conditions.
What appeals approach are universities taking in Clearing?
When you ring, make sure you enquire at the beginning of your call as to what that particular university’s approach is to accepting grades. Universities are being extremely flexible in their approach to appeals, so there are a number of different outcomes each university could give you. Be clear as to what this could be before continuing with the call.
City, University of London - Will be making Clearing offers only based on calculated grades. They will consider appeal grades later if places are still available.
Middlesex University - Clearing offers will be made pending the successful submission of an appeal. They will be working with schools in order to have mock results directly sent.
Edge Hill University - Wants students to let them know if they are appealing, what they think their mock results will be and will make an offer based on that. To retain the offer/place, students must demonstrate a successful appeal before the September 7th deadline.
Leeds Trinity University - Intend to hold places for those going through the appeals process until the September 7th deadline. Past the deadline, they will review their position.
Will universities have access to my mock results already?
No - universities will not have access to your mock results; they currently only have access to your calculated grades, as assessed by your teachers and moderated by Ofqual. They will have access to your mock results only once a successful appeal has been made.
How much does it cost to make an appeal?
There’s some ambiguity around this. Whilst it has been confirmed that successful appeals will be free, it has not been confirmed whether unsuccessful claims will be charged for, and whether it will be students and their parents, or schools and colleges that will have to foot the bill.
The best advice is to speak to your school first to ask about the likelihood of making a successful appeal, before proceeding to make one.
Can I start university and then appeal?
You may find yourself in a situation where your calculated grades gain you entry onto a course you really like and get accepted onto. However, there may be a course with stricter entry requirements which you are also keen on, would prefer and would be willing to transfer to later on (as many students change their course). Speak to the university to see whether it is still possible to apply for a course and be accepted, while still appealing and waiting for your mock results.
Can I appeal if I am a mature student?
If you are a mature student, you will have the option to appeal any grades from the past. However, this will depend on who your exam provider was. There will be support available for mature students who wish to appeal grades from years ago.
Can I appeal if I am a BTEC student or took a vocational course?
The process has not yet been confirmed. Those students who took a vocational or BTEC course can expect a similar process of appealing to students undertaking A-Levels, however it will be run separately. Students may have a different criteria to ‘validated re-sits’ in the form of coursework or practical training.
Please contact your school/college or course provider to get more information on the appeal process.
What are my options if I am a direct applicant and/or home-schooled?
If you wish to appeal, you will need to directly contact the exam centre with which you are registered.
When will I know if my appeal has been successful and my mocks are deemed “valid”?
You will know by September if your appeal has been successful. You should continue with your search process, calling universities in the meantime to see what they can offer you.
My appeal was rejected and my mock results deemed “invalid”. What are my options to get into uni?
You have two options:
Stick to the grades that you have been given by your teacher/Ofqual and try to negotiate your place at university with those grades. Often, grade entry requirements are significantly lower if you choose to do a foundation year.
Sit the exams in Autumn. This will give you an opportunity to improve on your calculated grades. Whilst there hasn’t been confirmation on when you could expect the results for these exams the consensus is that there should be an opportunity for you to start at university in January (so presume you would have your results at least by the end of the year).
If my mock results potentially get me into a better university, should I self-release?
Be mindful that once you self-release, you no longer have your firm choice. Depending on how long the process takes to find out whether your appeal was successful and to receive your mock results, there may be less Clearing courses available to choose from.
Your best bet is to contact universities you are interested in first using your calculated grades, and get verbal confirmation of offers based on your intention to appeal, before self-releasing. Don’t wait to find out if your appeal has been successful before you apply.
Start making phone calls to universities you’re interested in immediately and see what they can offer you.
My calculated grades say I didn’t get into uni and the uni won’t accept my mock results. What are my options?
You will have plenty of options if you don’t get into uni based on either your calculated grades or mock results.
Students will get the chance to re-sit their exams in Autumn, meaning you can earn the grades you need.
You can enrol on a vocational or foundation degree course. Both options tend to have lower entry requirements, preparing you for university the following year.
You may wish to not take the university route altogether, and undertake an apprenticeship.
There are also the option to take a gap year, which could entail gaining work experience, travelling overseas where possible or just taking some time off to review your options.
I know my mock results were better than the calculated grades I’ve just received, but I don’t know if my mocks will be accepted on appeal. What should I do?
Don’t undergo the appeal process without calling universities in Clearing to see if you can get accepted onto a place with the results you have. You should continue with the route to finding your perfect course through Clearing, whilst appealing for your mock at the same time.
You can call the universities of your choice and make them aware of your current grades, as well as your request to appeal. See what they can offer you, and what you can negotiate.
How can I register to “re-sit” my exams in Autumn?
Information for this will be released soon. Pay attention to any announcements from Ofqual and your school/college in order to keep on top of how to “re-sit” exams. In the meantime you should still continue with your search process and ring universities to see what they can offer you. You may find you don’t need to “re-sit” at all.
If I choose to sit the Autumn exams, will I still be able to go to uni this academic year?
While it will depend on the course, it is common for universities to have course start dates in January. For students who sit their exams in Autumn, there is a chance for you to discuss a January intake with the university of your choice. As a first step, check which universities have courses available and whether you can get accepted after you ‘re-sit’ in the Autumn. Do not hesitate to ask your first choice universities, and negotiate a deal that suits your needs.
How will “re-sits” work if I want to study in September?
If you want to start university in September, you will need to apply to a university that will accept your calculated grades (the ones provided by your teacher and moderated by Ofqual). There is still nothing to stop you then going on to do the “re-sit” Autumn exam, and you may wish to do this in order to improve your grade for your CV, or if you are hoping to use your Autumn grades to transfer courses and/or university.
If I have an unconditional offer, is Clearing still a choice and can I still appeal?
Yes- regardless of your offers and choice selection you are able to appeal, and go through Clearing. We would not advise taking this actions unless
You are 100% sure you want to self- release.
You have spoken to the university you want to change to and received a verbal offer.
You have spoken to your school/college to see whether you can appeal.
Bare in mind that self releasing means that you are no longer accepted by any university until you receive a new offer.
Should I use Clearing Plus?
Clearing Plus is a new service offered by UCAS that enables students to look at alternative Clearing options. However, unless you have no offers held, you can only access their results when you self-release. We strongly recommend you DON’T do this.
You can get the same service from sites like Whatuni and the
Complete University Guide, that provide you with options according to your UCAS tariff points, without having to release yourself from your backup options. Contact the universities first. Get verbal options. Once you have done this, and you are sure you want to self-release, you can do this through UCAS, and then you can always use UCAS’ Clearing Plus service as a point of cross-reference and to get additional options.
What does “universities being flexible” actually mean?
This means that if you do wish to appeal, universities will be considerate of this choice and take this into account when deciding whether or not to offer a place. Universities are expected to hold places open for those students who do appeal, until they receive their mock results.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and explain your situation. In the meantime, Ofqual are expected to provide further guidance on the appeals process soon.
How best to contact universities?
On the Clearing hotlines. Ensure that it is the “Clearing” hotline you are calling and not the “Admissions” hotline (easiest way to be sure is to use sites like Whatuni and/or the Complete University Guide, which only provide Clearing hotlines).
There will likely be a lot more students going through Clearing this year, so be persistent and keep trying if the line is engaged. Make sure that when you call, you have the following information to hand:
Your calculated grades (these are the ones provided by your teacher and moderated by Ofqual)
Your personal statement
The reason you want to go to the university
The reason you want to study your chosen course
Your UCAS number (if applicable)
Even if you do not hit the threshold of your chosen university, it is still worth calling them to see if you can be accepted.