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A-level students lack results day back-up plan

Seven in 10 haven't researched Clearing

Students in a lecture hall

More than half of students expecting their A-level results aren’t prepared for the possibility that they won’t get the grades they need to get their university place, new research from Which? University reveals.

Only half (48%) of prospective university students are confident of getting the grades they need for their first choice, yet three in ten (28%) admit they haven’t thought about what they’ll do if they don’t get in, our survey of more than 1,000 A-level students found.

Eight in ten (82%) students surveyed had a second, insurance choice as a back-up, but two in five (40%) said they don’t actually want to go there and a quarter (23%) have an insurance option with the same or higher entry requirements as their first choice. This means they run the risk of having to go through Clearing if they don’t get the grades, yet seven in 10 students told us they haven’t researched the Clearing process. 

You can find expert advice and practical help for Clearing 2014 over on the Which? University website.

Confusion over Clearing

Around one in 10 students go through Clearing every year, but knowledge of the Clearing process among current prospective students is low. More than half (54%) wrongly think that if they don’t get the grades for their first choice, but do get into their insurance choice, they can still also apply for an alternative course in Clearing. A further 22% said they didn’t know.

Which? University’s Sonia Sodha said: ‘As A-level results day approaches, it’s an understandably stressful and nerve-wracking time for prospective students, especially those who aren’t confident they’ll get into their first choice university.

‘Hopefully they won’t need a back-up plan, but we advise they research all their options just in case.’

Prepare your results day plan B (or C, or D…) 

Here are five tips for pulling together your results day back-up plan – just in case…

  • Start with your Clearing course search with your original shortlist of course choices – these are universities and courses you’ve already researched and seriously considered going to.
  • Create a list of other universities you’re interested in and note down their Clearing hotlines.
  • Consider similar courses, including joint degrees.
  • If you don’t think you’re able to compromise on your course or uni choices, think about taking a gap year and building on your work experience / retaking exams.
  • If you’re actually expecting to get better grades than you need, consider Ucas Adjustment, another route to finding an alternative course.

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