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How to support your child through A-level results day

All the essential information you need about A-level Results Day, so that you can support your child emotionally and practically as they pick up those all-important grades.

Eleanor Foulds
by Eleanor Foulds
Last Updated:
22 Sep 2022

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From knowing when and where to collect the results, to understanding what university offers mean and what options are available to your child once they’ve received their grades, this handy guide provides all the essential information you’ll need to be able to provide vital emotional and practical support to your child, no matter what happens on Results Day.

Collecting your child’s results

This year A-level results day will fall on Thursday 18th August and, as always, results will be made available to students from 6am. Results are usually collected from your child’s school or college on the morning of results day. The school/college should inform you ahead of time about their opening times and what procedures will be in place.

If your child would rather not collect their results in person, they can request to receive them via post. They can also nominate someone (you or another family member/friend) to collect them on their behalf. Your child will need to write and sign a letter of consent for their nominated person to take with them.

When your child picks up/receives their results, they’ll receive an envelope containing a slip of paper per exam board. On these sheets will be the names of the subjects undertaken and the overall grades and marks for those subjects. Grades will range from A* - E. Anything below E is classed as a fail and will be marked as U (meaning ‘Unclassified’)

NOTE: These are just your child’s results slips, they are not the official exam certificates (which your child will need in the future to show to potential employers). The official certificates are sent to schools at the end of October (once the results review period ends), so make sure your child arranges to collect them from the school or have them posted on.

Finding out if your child has got into uni

Students’ results are made available to universities the day before they are released to students, on what is known as ‘Restricted Release Day’. They will process the results and update the status of their conditional offers via UCAS Hub. Students can check their Hub accounts from 8am on A-level results days to see whether they have been accepted into university or not.

Note: It can take time for universities to process all offer decisions, so you and your child shouldn’t panic if the status of their offers hasn’t been updated straight away.  If it hasn’t updated by the afternoon of results day, your child should contact their chosen university to find out why.

There are several different situations your child could find themselves in on results day:

Your child gets the grades needed for their university offers

The offer status in their Hub account will change to say ‘Unconditional’. If they are still happy with their choice, they don’t have to do anything. If they no longer want to take up their chosen course, they can go through Clearing to find a new course/university.

Your child doesn’t get the grades needed for their Conditional Firm and/or Insurance offers.

The offer status will change to ‘Unsuccessful’ and your child will need to go through Clearing to find an alternative place. Your child’s account status will change to say: 'You are in Clearing’ and they’ll be given a Clearing ID number.

TOP TIP! If your child missed their offer criteria by a small margin and their status hasn’t updated on Hub, it’s worth your child calling the university to see if they can persuade the admissions team to still accept them.

Your child doesn’t get the grades for their chosen course, but the university has a similar course they could be accepted on.

The offer status in Track will change to ‘Unconditional Changed Course (UCC)’. Your child will need to decide whether they wish to accept the place on this new course or decline it and go through Clearing.

Your child gets grades that far exceed their expectations.

Your child can choose to stick with their choice (in which case they don’t have to take any action), or if they have changed their mind, they can go through Clearing to find a new course/university.

Your child changes their mind about university after getting their results.

If your child has not yet made an application to university at all (if they originally planned to go straight into work, for example), they can go through Clearing to find a course starting this year.

TOP TIP! If your child is in this situation, they don’t need to use UCAS Clearing to apply to university. Instead, they can apply directly to the university and go through a process of ‘Record of Prior Acceptance’. This avoids having to set up a UCAS account and paying UCAS Clearing application fees. Not all universities offer this route, but it’s worth checking.

Exploring your child’s options

The most important thing to remember about results day is that no matter what situation your child finds themselves in, there are options available to help them get to where they want to be. Here’s an overview of those options:


Clearing is a process in which students without an offer of a place at university can search for university courses starting this September with places still available. Clearing opens on 5th July 2022 and doesn’t end until 19th October 2022, giving your child plenty of time to find a place. Your child can research Clearing courses right here on Whatuni or if they have a university in mind, they can check on the university’s own website what courses are available.

NOTE: In order to fill empty spaces on courses, many universities lower their entry requirements. This opens up lots of opportunities, even for students that might not have performed as well as they’d hoped.


Adjustment used to be the process through which students who had exceeded their expectations could apply for courses with higher entry requirements. Adjustment no longer exists, however, and students must now use Clearing to find alternative places at university, even if they're 'trading up' to a higher ranked uni or one with higher entry requirements.

Appealing their grades

If your child feels that their results have been unfairly marked, they will need to initially discuss this with their school/college teachers. They will advise your child on the appeals process and what they need to do next. If the college upholds the original grade decision, further appeals can be made to Ofqual.

Resitting their exams

If appealing their grades isn’t an option, then taking a gap year and resitting their subject before reapplying to university next year is another option. 

Gap year

Taking a year out to work or travel is a great option. It will give your child time to figure out what they want their next steps to be; do any exam resits; and gain some valuable experience for their personal statement.

Vocational qualifications

If your child can’t find a suitable undergraduate degree during the Clearing process, there are alternative qualifications they can consider instead. Options include a Higher National Certificate (HNC), which is worth the equivalent of the first year of an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a foundation degree, which are both equivalent to two years of an undergraduate degree.

HNCs, HNDs and foundation degrees are great alternatives for students studying more practical, vocational subjects like business, engineering or health and social care.  They are provided by many Further Education colleges and some universities, and the teaching tends to be more practical in terms of its focus. They can also be converted to a degree following an extra period of study.

One of the great things about these qualifications is that the entry requirements are usually lower than for undergraduate degrees. In fact, some foundation degrees require no formal qualifications at all.  Another benefit is that while they may build up towards a degree, they do so in smaller bite-size chunks. So, if you don’t like the subject, or simply change your mind after a year or two, then you still leave with a qualification for your CV.


Advanced, Higher or Degree Apprenticeships are a great alternative to studying at university. They offer your child the chance to study for a qualification whilst working and earning (they will be paid a salary and their education fees will also be paid for by the employer).  Your child will typically spend 80% of their time working and 20% of the time studying at a local college or university. 

Over 70 universities and 200 colleges offer apprenticeship schemes in conjunction with employers in a variety of subject areas, including: business, education, engineering, healthcare, hospitality, legal studies, and sales and marketing. They can be done as a standalone or can be a stepping-stone to doing a foundation (then the perhaps a full bachelors) degree.

Foundation year

If you didn’t quite make the grades to study your chosen course, an option the university may offer you is to study a foundation or access year. These are year-long courses designed to help student develop the knowledge and skills required to succeed on the undergraduate degree. They are often integrated with the degree itself, so as soon as your child finishes the foundation/access year they’ll go straight into year one of the degree. Students studying foundation/access years will be treated exactly like other undergraduate students.

They are offered by many UK universities, including University of Surrey, University of Nottingham, University of Southampton, and Bangor University.

Supporting your child on results day

Here’s some things you can do to help your child have as stress-free a results day as possible:

Make a back-up plan

While you and your child will be hoping for the best on results day, you can’t always guarantee things will go to plan. And while you don’t want to make it seem like you don’t have any confidence in your child’s abilities, it’s important to encourage your child to have a back-up plan in place BEFORE results day.

Encourage your child to do some research into alternative courses/universities they could apply to if they need to go through Clearing, and some alternative qualifications they could do in their chosen subject if they can’t find a suitable degree. You can also help them plan out what their ideal gap year could look like if that’s what they decide to do and start thinking of employers/gap year schemes they could apply to.

Help your child to gather all the things they’ll need to act quickly on results day should they need to (any account passwords, their UCAS Clearing ID, university hotline numbers). 

Stay calm

If your child doesn’t get the results they need and find themselves in UCAS Clearing, it’s likely that they will be very upset and stressed about what to do next. While you are likely to be feeling upset too, you need to keep a level head. Your child will likely be looking to you for a sense of comfort and control. If they see that you are panicking and fretting, then it will make them feel even worse about the situation. 

Don’t rush them

While it’s important to act quickly in exploring your child’s options, it’s also vitally important not to rush your child into making a decision they could end up regretting later.  Encourage your child to take some time to digest all the information on their different options and to think about what they really want to do next. Help them by talking through it all and letting them know you’ll be there for them whatever they decide.

From knowing when and where to collect the results, to understanding what university offers mean and what options are available to your child once they’ve received their grades, this handy guide provides all the essential information you’ll need to be able to provide vital emotional and practical support to your child, no matter what happens on results day.


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