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The exams are over...but what happens next?

Your exams are finished and you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. But what happens next? We know the process of receiving your grades, letting your university know that you’ve met the conditions of your offer, or entering Clearing can be unfamiliar, so here’s a step-by-step explanation of what will happen once your exams have been marked. 

Stage One – your results

Once the exam boards have graded all the exam papers, most A-level results will be sent directly to UCAS. This will happen shortly before you find out what grades you’ve achieved, and UCAS will share this information with the universities you hold offers from. If you’ve studied a BTEC/Pearson qualification, this will only happen if you agreed for your awarding body to share your results with your university – if you didn’t, you’ll need to send them a copy of your certificates, transcripts or results slips.

If you are an international student, it is likely that you will have to tell your chosen university about your grades once you have received them – and you may have to send copies of your certificates or transcripts as proof.

Stage Two – your offers

If you’ve applied via UCAS, you can log in to UCAS Track to see whether or not you’ve met the offer conditions for your firm choice university. If you have – congratulations! That means you’ll be able to view your confirmation letter on UCAS Track five to seven days after your place is confirmed. If you didn’t apply via UCAS, you can check the university’s own portal (if they have one), or they may send you an email or a letter.

If you haven’t achieved the results you needed, but your chosen university still wants you to come to them (perhaps based on the strength of your portfolio or the way you impressed them at your interview), you may be offered a place anyway. This may be on your original course of choice, but it’s also possible that they’ll offer you a place on a different course or with a different start date. At UCA, we often offer applicants who haven't met the grades for their chosen undergraduate course a place on either a four-year undergraduate course (which includes a preparatory year, usually called Year 0), or our year-long Foundation course – from here, they’re able to progress to one of our undergraduate courses without further application.

Stage Three – Clearing

If you’ve not met the grades and your firm choice university doesn’t offer you another option, or if you didn’t receive any offers, you’ll be entered into the UCAS Clearing process. Here, you can search for other courses at universities that still have places available, then contact them to discuss your options. You can receive a number of verbal offers through Clearing – once you’ve decided which one to accept, you can add your Clearing choice in UCAS Track.

We know this can be a stressful time, but as long as you’re flexible and can demonstrate achievement in the form of your exam results and/or portfolio – and as long as you act quickly – you’ll stand a very good chance of finding a university place that’s right for you. Find out more about the Clearing process here.

At UCA, we have a useful Clearing helpline, so you’ll be able to chat to our Admissions team who can guide you through the whole process. We understand that creative talent and ability is not always best measured through exam results, so we also consider the strength of our applicants’ portfolios when making offers. So don’t worry if you haven't achieved the grades you were hoping for - just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.