A Guide to Results Day

A day of triumph and disappointment for students across the country, indeed all the over world, results day, with the just the opening of letters and reading of emails, determines academic trajectories for the following years and beyond. What follows is a brief guide to surviving the stress and what to do next, whether you make your grades or just miss the cut.

The best result

There aren’t too many possible outcomes on results day. If you’ve got an offer in hand and your results match up then the first thing to do is celebrate – you are going to university. Hug the nearest member of your family, indulge with a can of fizzy pop, you can stop panicking.

But perhaps you’ve exceeded your expectations. In this case, you may be eligible to apply for course with higher requirements. This is, of course, optional but it may be worth looking into. Eligibility is not a matter of simply getting better grades than you anticipated – you must receive better grades in the subjects upon which your firm offer is based. The UCAS website outlines all the conditions. Registering for Track is a requirement and bear in mind you will only have five days from results day to negotiate a better offer (or five days from the point at which your conditional offer becomes unconditional, whichever is later). Get on the phone, or on university department websites to see if there are any courses with higher requirements, which might trump your preexisting offer. If nothing comes of this period then after five days you will automatically be accepted for your original place – so you’ve nothing lose by shopping around.

Just missing out.

Take a breath. It’s an undoubtedly horrible feeling to have worked so hard only to come so close. Likely you are already registered with UCAS track, check the status. If it’s ‘unconditional’ then it’s time to stay up way past your bedtime; if unsuccessful then it’s time to consider your insurance offer. Ringing the university will only generate further woe. Places are highly competitive, so abandon the thought that you can change minds. There are only a few situations in which you should consider contacting the university:

  • If you have extenuating circumstances – but you will need teachers there to verify your claims.
  • If you have an exam that is being resubmitted for a priority remark.
  • If your UMS score is just a few marks off what you needed to make your first choice offer. Universities get overall marks only – if the breakdown shows you failed by narrowest of margins, then a quick phone call might be worth it.

Insurance offer

If you were close to your first choice then it’s likely you met the requirements for your insurance offer. Again it’s time to celebrate, you are off to university. If you don’t achieve the needed grades then you first need to check UCAS Track – if it shows unsuccessful then it’s time to move on to clearing. If it still says conditional, then it’s worth putting a phone call in, as they may still accept you with lower grades.


Clearing is how universities fill up their last remaining spaces. It’s a chance for applicants without offers to get a place to university. While it’s still part of the UCAS process – entry to clearing is automatic, if you don’t make any offers – you will need to contact universities directly to get a verbal offer.

Finding a suitable course is obviously important – be aware that if you drastically change your planned programme of study, universities will want to know why. Several resources are available to students in this process. The UCAS website will have a list of course vacancies, though it won’t say how many of each vacancy there are, and The Daily Telegraph publishes a list on the Monday after results day. What you need from a university is a verbal offer; once you have this you can enter your clearing choice into Track.

Given the limited number of spaces available, you will need to act fast – it’s first come, first served. Whatever your results, be proud of the work you put in. Even if you don’t make your first choice, a great university experience awaits.