What happens if your A levels aren’t what you hoped for? What to do when it goes wrong in your exams. Keep calm and carry on.

As the imperial death march intones in their sub-conscious, the school leavers of 2017 are a Schrödinger’s cat of sorts, where by they have both passed and failed their A levels and the truth is only a short hop away from revealing itself. It’s like breaking something valuable that belongs to an irascible parent and trying to enjoy a meal they’ve prepared, making small talk before it’s discovered. That is to say, these are uneasy bum-squeaky days and the patient waiting can seem like a small eternity.

Now, fingers crossed many of you will emerge from the proverbial box, glossy coated, whiskers twitching with feline self satisfaction and glide smoothly into your first choice university without a backwards glance. Others may slope out, shoulders rounded, coughing up a hairball, mangy but otherwise alright and stumble into their third of fourth choice university, and yet, others again will be a former cat, a rigored, paws up, gassed variety.

Now, like with the broken antiquity belonging to the aforementioned cantankerous parent, what you do next with this information is critical. Don’t blink first, don’t show weakness and don’t crumble.

results day0002
A Level results day – not the end of the world, despite how it may feel.

1/The most important thing is to get some perspective. This is not the end of your life, it’s barely the end of the beginning. This is a step. Nothing more. It feels big, it feels decisive but really it’s just another day – you need to regroup, lick your wounds but don’t give in to the artificial idea that you’re done for.

2/The other universities you opted for, call them up – explain your circumstances, you may not have got the grades you expected but they still need bums on seats and it may well be that there are some spare seats on your first choice course, or related courses, once the dust has settled. You could potentially then change courses midway through the year with greater ease as others drop out.

3/ Clearing – if there are other courses that are interesting for you and it wouldn’t just be a case of any port in a storm have a look at what other options are out there. Don’t panic and jump at the first available thing though, give yourself options – be sensible and pragmatic. You could then potentially change course or transfer university at a later point.

4/ Re-sits – not a dirty word, if you know what went wrong it may be a simple case of booking an exam again without even needing to go to college for further study, you can then use that time to work, volunteer, do internships and bolster your CV/enhance your application for the following year.

5/ Gap year – Use the time to do something you’ve always wanted to do, something that is both profound, life changing, exciting and will again enhance your application for the following year and potentially your wider CV.

6/ Look at apprenticeships that are opening mid-year, you have an advantage in that many apprenticeships are open all year round and you’ll have much less competition midway through an academic year.

7/ Get a job and work your way up. As it sounds. Retrain later in your career, or gain additional qualifications sponsored by your company perhaps.

That’s it. Those are your options. You may not like all of them, but you’ll note there are several of them, so remember as the big day approaches, no matter what happens it is not the end of the world. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that…

2 thoughts on “What happens if your A levels aren’t what you hoped for? What to do when it goes wrong in your exams. Keep calm and carry on.

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