A-level results day: survival guide

Although it's quite tempting to start living a hermit-like existence and pretend results day isn't happening tomorrow, it unavoidably is. In fact, by the time you've finished reading this sentence, it'll be even closer.

A cruel truth, we know. However, before you throw your computer out the window, we have put together a very handy guide on what to do in preparation for, and during, the big day. It’ll help you stay organised; after all, it can be difficult thinking clearly through a haze of nerves while simultaneously trying to suppress the urge to scream, cry and vomit at the same time.


The 24 hours preceding results day can be quite surreal. People tend to go down one of two routes: they either go completely numb and useless, or dissolve into a nervous (and equally useless) wreck. Here are some better ideas:

  • Avoid caffeine. It certainly doesn’t help your nerves, and it doesn’t help you sleep. You need to wake up refreshed and alert so you’re ready to take effective action should you not get the results you were hoping for; or, of course, savour the moment properly if you got the results you were after.
  • If you haven’t done so already, dig out all your university-related correspondence, such as letters from Ucas and universities, and make a note of your Ucas number and any specific university identification numbers. That way you will have them to hand in case you need to phone up your university tomorrow.
  • Speaking of which, log on to your university’s website and find out the relevant departmental numbers. They’ll most likely be very busy on results day, so it always helps to be ahead of the game so you can get through while everyone else is scrabbling around.
  • Go and top-up your mobile phone, so you can phone all your eagerly awaiting family and friends with your news. Put it on charge before you go to sleep to avoid dying-battery frustration the following day.
  • Pack all these items in a bag along with a calculator, so you can add up your module scores to double-check that the exam board did it properly. A spare pair of pants might be helpful too.
  • In the morning, before you get your results, go and buy a copy of The Independent. This may seem like a shameless plug but, should you need them, it’s the only newspaper where you can find all the official Ucas Clearing listings.


Ah, yes, tomorrow. Assuming you’re fully prepared and in a positive frame of mind, the whole thing will be a breeze. If you’re not, there’s always that extra pair of pants…

In all seriousness, if you didn’t get the results you were hoping for and haven’t met your offers, all hope is not lost; far from it, in fact. First of all, phone up your universities, both firm choices and back-up, and explain your situation; some institutions are willing to accept lower grades, so it’s always worth a try.

Failing that, there are those aforementioned Clearing listings. And remember that going through the Clearing doesn’t mean you have failed; it’s merely an extension of the application process.

If your grades are lower than you expected, you can also consider getting your paper re-marked. Although there is a charge for this, your money does get refunded if your grade changes, though bear in mind that your mark can go down as well as up.

If you meet or exceed the grades you wanted – fantastic! You can phone your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours, and bemused pet cat to shriek the good news to them. Whatever the outcome we wish you the best of luck for the day, and remember: preparation is paramount.