So, your mates are getting ready to go boozing and you’re sat with your papers still in your hand figuring out the next steps. There’s countless websites out there that tell you what to do. There’s countless options, and decisions, to be made. However, whilst I want to point to these resources and emphasise that this is the best way forward, I would like to add the personal somewhat to proceedings, in case anyone stumbles across this post.
There will be many people who tell you “it’s not the end of the world.” That’s very easy to say and I can only reflect on my experience five years ago, when the bottom of my heart fell and I realised I had missed my predicted grades by a few marks! Looking back, I want to chuckle at myself. I guess this is little advice/some thoughts on A-Level results, where we can go from here….
The first thing, and that’s paramount. Go and get yourself a cup of tea and sit down in the garden! The chances are you’ve had a crazy morning and just want to chill. Please do this. Bookmark your tabs for later, and sign out for a bit!
Now, hopefully you’ve had a chance to put your feet up, watch something and breathe! Here’s some more specific advice about the moves forward now. Some are specific to university application processes, some focus particularly on the results and where to move forward in terms of your own personal development.
Take a chance to analyse your results. What went better than expected? What skills have you mastered without necessarily realising what they are? Stick with the positives first and note them down.
An example of this might be a biology essay in an exam. Take that forward, consider if you enjoy it, and give yourself a pat on the back. Something will have gone better than expected so focus on this first.
What didn’t go as well? Now, I wish I didn’t have to consider this one, but chances are, there was an exam paper you felt organised and confident in, and you didn’t get the grade reflected. The first thing to do is to consider speaking to your college tutor, to see if there are others who fell below the expected (follow the steps in #1).
Now reflect on the skills needed, and list what you feel you could have improved. This is a difficult process without the exam paper to analyse. This is why you might want to consider asking the college if they are prepared to go through a paper with you and see what happened.
If there is a skill that you need to focus on then start now!
Look at work experience placements you could consider to help develop the skills identified by your A- Level results. Consider the option to re-sit, but also think about it this way: the exam system does generalise to a large degree. It’s the nature of the beast and is not personal. There are many very intelligent people who “flunked” their A-Levels. There are some very famous people who don’t even have them, and in the ‘real-world’ are successes! This is not the end of your journey, but consider first if you want to re-sit and this will depend on factors only you know. If you can move forward, do so, but take the advice from examiners and tutors forward and work on it as a matter of priority. Most of all remember:
“Success is not about being the best, it’s about always getting better.” – 99U, Adobe magazine.
Enjoy filling the knowledge gaps. Remember that book the tutor mentioned? Or that theory you still didn’t quite crack after all those hours studying? Well now’s the chance to chill and learn it anyway. Knowledge is an asset to be celebrated in all its degrees and expressions. Now you don’t have to prove yourself in that gruesome exam hall, why not chill and fill in the gaps? Watch a documentary about how one of your topics relates to the out-side world. Remember how big “knowledge” is, and remember that in any case, the A-Level was only a tiny sample of the field. Jump in and explore! You don’t need a piece of paper to tell you you aced your favourite bit of the course- you know that already, because you enjoyed it and that’s the main thing. What you enjoyed should inform your choices going forward more than what you didn’t enjoy as much.
Consider your options in terms of the exam papers. If there is an exam you know you were well studied for, organised in your answers and calm throughout, ask your college department to retrieve your paper from the exam board or even ask for a re-mark. In some cases, where grades have fallen below expected, the college will themselves seek re-marks for their cohort. However, any possible changes, (and I want to emphasise this as much as possible) will take at least a few months to process. At this stage, the grades on that piece of paper or on the screen are what we must work with.
Whatever has happened today, try not to be too bitter about it. This is your journey, so tune out what others are doing. Within weeks you’ll be off on your own adventures, so follow your heart on clearing open days. Ask the university how they can support you in issues brought up by your A-Levels. Talk about what you enjoyed at A-Level and any aspirations you have in your Degree and discuss things with your tutors. This is as much about what you have to bring to the table as it is about finding you a uni place. Remember that everyone has something to offer so consider this relationship going forward.
Look at the research goals of the academics you’ll be working with.
All universities will have a department website, and an off-shoot of this should be their academic research interests and goals. The reasons I am saying this are numerous; you get a feel for the work being done within the university across disciplines and how this works in the outside world; how university modules will be informed by academic fields; what events you could get involved in; how your work will fit into this going forward… Seriously, make the academic research of your department a key part of your clearing or application research process!
I’m just going to show you how this worked during my undergraduate degree at the University of Hertfordshire.
You can view a talk-through here