Poor A Level Grades

If your child has not managed to get their expected A level grades then a quick change of plan may be called for. Even if there is little difference in the achieved grades and expected grades it can mean that the offer of a university place is withdrawn.

The key is to act quickly. If the offer of a place has been withdrawn there may still be other places available that compare well to your child's first choice.

There are six main options to anyone who has not achieved the results they expected to. These are as follows:

Attempt to Continue with Chosen Options

If the are exam results are slightly below expectations then the chosen university or employer may still accept the candidate. Contact the university immediately to see where you stand. Sometimes a university will reconsider their decision to withdraw their offer, but this cannot be counted on. Be prepared to offer extra reasons as to why you should still be allowed to join the university.

You can discuss the possibility of joining the following academic year, depending on the result of resits. At this point in time you are more likely to prefer to check with UCAS Clearing to see what other options are available to you.


After A level results have been announced there are a large number of university places still available. In fact around 30,000 places a year are allocated through the clearing process. Clearing is simply the name given to the process of matching students to available place after A level results. University vacancies are advertised in newspapers and on the University and Colleges Admissions System (UCAS) website. Clearing lasts from when exam results are published until around the middle of September each year.

Obviously if you use Clearing you are likely to end up at a different university than planned. You will still need to think carefully about any new options in order to choose the best course and location for you. It may be helpful to read through the Parenting.co.uk to: Choosing a University.

Although the Clearing process can last until mid September universities want to allocate any remaining places they have as quickly as possible. Therefore some quick decision may need to be taken. The best places are often snapped up very quickly, so avoid any unnecessary delays in deciding on your next steps.


If you have looked at clearing and decided there is not an option that really appeals to you or you wish to improve your results before joining university the following year then resitting your exams is an option. Again it is important to act quickly to see if places exist at your old school or six form college. It may also be beneficial to consider a new school or college to study at. Resists can normally be taken in January as well as the following summer.

Alternative Qualifications

There are a very wide range of different subjects you can study as GNVQs, BTECs, or NVQs, modern apprenticeships or City and Guilds. These qualifications can act as a first step on a career path or help you to gain a university place at a later date.

Start Work

It is possible that when you look at your A level results you feel you have had enough of full time education for now. If this is the case or if it is at least something you would like to consider then it is likely to be worth seeking careers advice. Although you may not feel like it at the time it can also be a good idea to seek out evening classes in order to improve your grades. This is likely to have a long term beneficial effect on your chosen career.

Take a Gap Year

If you do decide to take a gap year then it is important to get up and running as soon as possible. It is surprising just how quickly time can slip by when you are having fun. Keep an eye on perspective long term employment when you consider what to undertake during your year off. The more productive you can be during the year the better the opportunities you are likely to have in the long run.

Keep in mind as well that people often find it very hard returning to full time education after a gap year and many people find it easier to start a university course straight away.

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Poor A Level Grades


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