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A-level results day 2018: what to do now – updated

Now that you - or someone you know - have got your A-level grades, what do they mean and what are your options?

A-level results day 2018: what to do now – updated

Today thousands of A-level students across the country will open their results and find out if they’ve clinched the grades they need for their future plans.

Note, this article has since been updated as of 16 August 4pm. See further down.

Prospective university students will learn if they’ve landed their first choice university or, failing that, their insurance choice.

Those who haven’t can jump into the Ucas Clearing process to find an alternative place for September. Clearing is the official Ucas process for students without places to find spots at universities with vacancies. The number of university acceptances via Clearing hit a record high last year, with nearly a tenth of all acceptances using it.

What your results mean

Which? University has provided the following tips for students depending on what their results are:

  • Got your grades? Congratulations! You can start properly counting down the days until you leave. Figure out what you might need to pick up, whether it’s a new laptop for your course or kitchen utensils (including some basic cooking skills).
  • Just missed your grades? Don’t panic! Check online on Ucas Track to see the status of your application. Depending on the course and uni, you might still be accepted.

If not, speak to someone at your school about pursuing a resit or an exam remark.

  • Missed your grades by a bit more? Ucas Track will tell you if you’re eligible for Clearing, including giving you a special Clearing ID number. You’ll need this if you want to find an alternative through Clearing.

Now it’s over to you to find a Plan B. The official Ucas site will display live vacancies throughout the day. Call those universities to apply, and keep in mind that you might want to start with universities that offered you a place previously, or nearby universities if you had your heart set on your corner of the country.

Don’t rush into a decision. Dig deeper into a course, including key student satisfaction and graduate stats plus what will actually be covered. Search for it on Which? University before taking time to call.

  • Did better than expected? You may be able to ‘trade up’ a course to one with higher entry requirements, via Ucas Adjustment. There isn’t a definitive list of vacancies, so you’ll need to contact unis you’re interested in directly to see what spots they have.

You can read more in Which? University’s sneak peek guide to A-level results day.

A-level reforms: how they affect your results

This year marks the second consecutive year of ongoing A-level changes, with further subjects transitioning over to the new system, including geography, music and modern languages.

In England, results for subjects graded under the new system – also including English language and literature, the sciences, business and computer science – will be mainly decided by exams taken in spring 2018. Previously, coursework had a larger bearing on final grades.

It means that those who wish to re-sit exams for subjects under the new system will have to wait until next May or June to do so.

If you want to do this, or apply for a re-mark, make sure you collect your results in person to discuss your results with your school.

Results day 2018 in numbers (updated 16 August)

  • More than a quarter of  A-levels awarded an A or A*, the highest since 2012. Ofqual described this as ‘extremely marginal’ given the ongoing A-level changes.
  • 24 subjects have now moved over to the new A-level system, which emphasises exams taken at the end of two years over coursework and marks achieved at AS-level.
  • 8% of entrants received an A*, the lowest since 2013.
  • 97.6% overall pass rate, slightly down on last year’s 97.9%.
  • 2 years on the trot that boys lead girls in achieving top grades, with 26.6% achieving A* or A (vs 26.2% of girls).
  • 411,860 students have taken university places so far, down 1% on the same point last year. This year saw a fall in applications, attributed partly to the low birth rate in 2000.
  • 26,000 courses available in Clearing (for students in England, as of the day before results day), which is slightly down on the same time last year. This number will fluctuate throughout the day as decisions are made.
  • 9 in 10 institutions have at least one course listed in Clearing.
  • Nearly one million logins to Ucas Track.


Which? University’s results day advice covers a range of topics, from what Clearing is and finding a back-up to tips for parents whose children are collecting results.

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