Five options to consider if you didn’t get the exam results you wanted

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So you didn’t get the results you wanted to get you into your first choice university doing the course you had your heart set on. First things first – don’t panic. It might feel like the worst thing in the world but you do have other options to consider.

Exam results


If you’re sure that you still want to go to uni this year then check out the UCAS clearing website where universities will advertise places that they still have available. It may be that the course you want to do is available at another uni or there may be other courses with lower grade criteria on offer at your first choice uni. New courses are added all the time so keep checking on a regular basis.

Re-sit your exams

If you know that your grades just aren’t up to scratch to get a place through clearing then re-sits could be the answer and, knowing what you know now, you might find that you do better second time around.

Study for qualifications other than a degree

There are several work-related qualifications that you can study including National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), and a two-year Higher National Diploma (HND) which can potentially be topped up to a degree at the end of the course. Not only do these give you recognised qualifications but you’re also gaining valuable work experience too – a win/win situation in the eyes of future employers.


Doing an apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to not just get a professional qualification, but also valuable work experience – and you get paid too. There are apprenticeships in lots of different areas so you should be able to find something to suit you.

Gap year

While it might be lovely to spend a year travelling the world to find yourself, it’s often not financially viable especially at this stage of your life. But taking a year out while you decide what to do next is a great way of gaining new and valuable experiences, and enhancing your CV. Whether you get a job or you do volunteer work, the skills you’ll pick up along the way will help when it comes to applying for uni next year.

Before you make any decisions, chat with your teachers – they’re the ones who’ve worked with you over the past few years and will be best placed to give you the advice and guidance you need to make the right choice.

And what I said about it not being the end of the world is true – you’re not defined by your exam success or failure. Once you’ve got a few years’ work experience under your belt you’ll probably never even be asked by employers what your A-level results were.

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