A Parent’s Guide to A Level Results Day

A-Level results day can be an exciting and stressful time for students. This guide takes you through all of the essential details of the day and explains the various options available to your child once they have received their results.

When is A Level results day?

A Level Results are released on Tuesday 10th August 2021. Schools cannot reveal results ahead of 08.00 on this date.

Please find below a summary of the changes to A-Level exam results announced throughout 2021:

  • Results awarded will be based on teacher-led grades.
  • Schools can challenge results if they think the school’s past history of exam grades has been applied unfairly.
  • Students can appeal their calculated grade on the technical grounds of process, or if they have clear evidence of discrimination or bias. 

Before results day

There is a chance that your child may be unhappy with their grades and therefore want to appeal their results. The deadline to appeal an A Level result is 17th September. On the other hand, if grades are inflated, then ‘Adjustment’ (whereby a student can explore changing their chosen course & university for another) may be used by more students than usual. We advise parents and students to be prepared, focussed and fast moving. Having conversations about each possible scenario and a plan A, B and C is more important than ever.

Receiving results

  • Each school has different arrangements, but most schools welcome students to collect their results in person or will have made alternative arrangements instead of or in addition to in person collection.
  • Many schools will publish the results on their online portal.

When will we find out if my child has got into their chosen university?

We suggest you check UCAS ‘Track’ from 8am on results day morning to find out whether your child’s place has been accepted. Not only can this relieve the pressure, but it will also give you a good indication of their final grades.

If your place is confirmed, UCAS will send you your AS12 letter via email which will explain your next steps.

What happens if your child meets the results of their ‘firm’ university offer?

Congratulations! The hard work paid off. It’s time to celebrate with your son or daughter. Don’t worry about contacting their first-choice university to confirm their grades, as UCAS ‘Track’ will automatically update soon after results are released to show that they have been accepted onto their chosen course. Only if this doesn’t show after a few days, will you need to contact the university.

After results day, an ‘AS12’ letter will arrive in the post. Ensure that your child follows any instructions carefully, and holds onto the letter for safekeeping.

What happens if they don’t meet the results of their ‘firm’ university offer?

It is important for you all to remain positive, even if you are disappointed. There are still plenty of options if they have missed the grades for their ‘firm’ choice and there is no need to panic. This year, universities are being asked to be more flexible, so remain calm, focussed and explore all options.

  • Check UCAS ‘Track’. They may still have been accepted onto the course. If the offer still reads as ‘Conditional’, your son or daughter should contact the university admissions office and give a case for still being offered a place on the course with lower grades.
  • Check if your child has received an ‘Unconditional Changed Course’ offer. Their first choice university might have offered them a place on a different course.
  • If offered, accept a place with their ‘insurance’ university. In this case, no action is needed on results day.
  • If your child’s mock exam results are higher than their ‘calculated grade’ you can appeal through their school.
  • If your child’s results do not reflect their efforts and attainment, talk to your school about appealing (universities are being urged to hold open offers until the UCAS deadline for applicants to meet their academic offer conditions  – 7th September). 

What happens if my child doesn’t meet the results for their ‘insurance’ university offer?

If your child doesn’t achieve the grades required for their ‘insurance’ university offer, they may be able to find another place through UCAS ‘Clearing’. Each year, The Telegraph and UCAS website, provide a full listing of ‘Clearing’ vacancies.

How does UCAS ‘Clearing’ work?

Most of the ‘Clearing’ process will take place over the telephone and your son or daughter will need to contact individual university admissions departments.

They will firstly need to provide their ‘Clearing Number’, found on UCAS, which will allow the university to draw up their results and UCAS application. They may then need to put forward a case for why the department should take them, so it is best to prepare a little beforehand. They might be asked why they have chosen the university and course, or to highlight good results and the strong areas of their personal statement

It is important not to rush ‘Clearing’. It is an important decision which will determine the next three years and beyond. Your child can contact as many ‘Clearing’ universities as they wish in order to weigh up their options. Once they have received a verbal offer over the telephone, they must enter the course and institution codes into UCAS Track.


If the ‘insurance’ or ‘Clearing’ universities are not quite right for your son or daughter, they might consider retaking their A levels and reapplying to University for the following year.

  • This year, all students are being given the opportunity to re-take their A-Level’s if they are not happy with their teacher-led grade. A-Level exams will take place in Autumn term 2021 and students can take examinations in just one subject if they would like, however all papers have to be taken. The deadline for entry for re-takes is the 4th of September and must be submitted via your child’s school as soon as possible.
  • A ‘gap year’ will also give your child an opportunity to broaden their horizons, perhaps through travel, volunteering, work or other pursuits and projects. Despite the current circumstances, if your child does decide to take a gap year, they will need to be ready to explain the value of doing so in their personal statements and in any interviews (for university and future employment).

What should we do if they exceed the results of their university offer?

After registering on the UCAS website for ‘Adjustment’, your child will need to search individual university websites before contacting the admissions offices, who will inform them of any vacancies. If they receive an offer they would like to take, they can accept this over the phone; the university will update their UCAS account.

Once registered with ‘Adjustment’, you have five 24 hour periods between results day or your offer on the UCAS website changing from ‘CF’ (Conditional firm) to ‘UF’ (Unconditional firm) and the 1st September to find a place.

What next?

If you and your child have decided that it is best for them to retake and apply to University for a 2022 start, we can help.

  • Due to the cancellation of examinations many students will have stopped engaging with their A-Level syllabus before the end of the academic year. If this is the case, then it is vital that they review and revise (it isn’t long until October). Working with an experienced and up to speed private tutor will help.
  • There is no guarantee that universities will hold places open for students, or allow them to start their courses if they are re-taking. We advice contacting universities directly to tell them about re-taking in case they can offer any flexibility. However, A-Level re-takes are traditionally for students who have decided to wait a year and reapply to University with their new grades.
  • If your child does re-take their calculated grades, they can use the highest mark from either their re-sits or their calculated grades to apply to University again.
  • Seeking advice from your child’s school or college is always a good place to start. Should you need impartial and external support, our expert education consultants are on hand to help with any aspect of your child’s academic journey.

University Placements Education Consultants  A Level Retakes