Your Post A-level Options: Where to go from results day

by Anita Naik

Your A-level results have come in, but what to do next is the big question? The choices are enormous whether you get the grades you want or not. If you're unsure of all your options, here's a breakdown of your choices from university to volunteering and work.

Go to university

Whether you get the grades or not or have changed your mind about going to university, the option for higher education is there for the taking.

If you get the grades your university of choice asked for, you need to wait for a confirmation on results day. If you haven't reached the grades, check Track - the UCAS online system - to check the status of your application and see if your place or another one has been confirmed.

If it isn't confirmed, then you can apply for a new course through UCAS Clearing. More than 70,000 students were accepted through Clearing last year source: UCAS, 2020).

If you have exceeded your predicted grades, use the UCAS Adjustment service to apply for a new course or a new university.

Whatever you decide to do, talk to an adviser at your school to help you decide if Adjustment would be a good idea or if another course would suit your needs better.

Retake your A-levels

If your grades aren't high enough or you feel you could do better, you can always retake your A-levels in the 2021/2022 academic year.

First, you need to decide where to re-sit your A-Levels; you don't have to do this at school; you can also opt for a sixth form college or do the exams online. Speak to your teachers and choose the option best for you - for instance, do you need to be in a class environment, or would you be better working on your own with a tutor.

Remember, there are costs involved in retaking your A-levels. There's a tuition fee if you go to a private college or apply online and an exam fee. The tuition fee is wavered if you go back to school to retake, but you will still have to pay the exam fee.

Study at a Further Education college

Further Education Colleges specialise in BTEC Nationals, otherwise known as The Business and Technology Education Council qualification and the TechBac which are practical, vocational, courses run by the City and Guilds aimed at 16-19-year-olds technical qualifications and work skills.

They are a good option if you don't want to retake your A-levels and are interested in vocational rather than academic options. Or if you have decided you are going to focus on a particular area and are looking for a specialist subject.

Apply for a Higher Apprenticeship

You can still do an apprenticeship even if you've taken your A-levels. Higher Apprenticeships are a good option if you don't want to go to university. You'll get training (resulting in an industry-recognised qualification) while earning a salary and getting real-life work experience on your CV at the same time.

Bear in mind that the competition is challenging because there are a limited number of opportunities. Entry requirements are also high and include at least five GCSEs grades 9 - 4, including English and maths subjects, A levels, NVQs, or a BTEC.

Higher apprenticeships are jobs, so you need to look at recruitment apprenticeships sites for placements.

Browse through all the listings in a wealth of areas from languages, literature, arts, media, business and science and mathematics and social sciences, to name but a few.

Take a gap year

While travel is still limited due to the pandemic, there are other things you can do during your gap year, from upskilling to starting your own small business. Firstly, check out our gap year blog post for ideas on how to use your gap year to benefit your future career or university chances.

Also, think about volunteering at home in the UK or trying for an intern role to gain more work experience. Check out job sites like Indeed for ideas and places with entry-level positions.

For more on results' day and retakes see our posts Results day what to expect and Everything you need to know about retaking your GCSEs and A-levels