As thousands of students await A-level results, we reveal what past students have told us about their memories of the day – and what they did to calm their nerves.
Receiving exam results can be an understandably stressful affair, but there are things you can do to help you get through it with a smile on your face.
We asked some past A-level students to tell us how they felt on results day, what helped them get through the day and their top tips to students getting their results this year.
But if you only take one piece of advice from this article, make sure it’s this: there are options available to you, whatever your results.
We also teamed up with student blogger Jack Edwards, who gives his invaluable results day advice, based on his experiences last year:
We’ll be hosting a Facebook Live, with expert tips and tricks for results day survival. See you at 7pm on Wednesday 15 August on the Which? Facebook page.
What to expect on A-level results day: we explore several possible scenarios and what to do next, to help you be as prepared as possible.
1. Talk to friends, family and teachers
Speaking to others about how we’re feeling can often help put things into perspective. Speak to your close friends and family about how you’re feeling, but also talk about everyday things to distract your mind.
It may also be worth talking to one of your teachers, as they will likely be able to give you solid and bespoke advice. For the day itself, check when your school or college opens and closes, and make the effort to go in to collect your results, so you can speak to your teachers if you need to.
If you’re a parent whose child is worried about not getting the results they need, take a look at our Clearing guide for parents.
If you don’t get the grades you need and enter Clearing, don’t panic. Last year, we spoke to a University of Northampton student who gained her place through Clearing and, as she said: ‘sometimes going to a different university can work out for the better.’
Find out more by reading Megan’s Clearing journey.
2. Try not to talk about it too much
One past A-level student gives some great advice for anyone who might be feeling overwhelmed: ‘I turned off all my notifications in the group chats because I didn’t want to hear anyone banging on about results day.’
While you might find it useful to talk through how you’re feeling, it might be good for you to occasionally switch off from it and try to think about other things.
3. Prepare a back-up plan
It’s never a bad idea to be prepared. Take the time to think through your options, and what the next steps will be for all possible scenarios.
It might be worth writing down a list of courses that you’d consider applying for through Clearing, if it comes to that. To get started, dig out your personal statement and the list of universities you originally applied for – it’s a good idea to remind yourself what it was that drew you to the choices you made.
Read more: Preparing your back-up plan for results day
You might also want to think about other options that could be open to you, such as retaking exams, considering higher or degree apprenticeships, or taking a year out to travel or gain work experience.
4. Sort out the practicalities
While your head might be in the clouds the night before, spend a few minutes thinking through practicalities.
Make sure you have your Ucas login details handy, as you’ll need these if you need to go through Clearing. We’d also recommend having a fully charged phone, for ringing both universities and loved ones.
5. Do things that relax you
Make time in your schedule to do things that relax you, such as listening to music, exercising or reading.
If you have pets that you love, spend some time with them. While they may not fully understand your troubles, they can be great company – either curl up with them on the sofa and watch your all-time favourite film or take them for a walk.
6. ‘I ate lots of ice cream…’
While we might not necessarily advise eating copious amounts of ice cream, it’s important to occasionally treat yourself.
Browse all of the Which? University advice on clearing and results day.