What to do on A-Level Results Day 2023

What to do on A-Level Results Day 2023

Don’t panic, we’re here to help! Learn how to prepare for your results day and what to do if you do, or don’t, get the results you were hoping for.

What we'll cover

When is A-Level Results Day 2023?

A-Level results day is Thursday 17 August 2023, and for Scotland, SQA results day is Tuesday 8 August 2023. GCSE results day is on the 24 August 2023, so any conditional offers that are relying on a GCSE retake grade will be postponed until this date.

How to collect Your A-Level Results?

Typically, you’ll go into your sixth form or college to collect your results in person. Each higher education institution may have their own processes for collecting your results, so make sure you know where to go on the day. You’ll have the opportunity to open your results among your friends and teachers as you would have with your GCSE results, although it's not uncommon to find a quiet corner if you’d prefer to do this without an audience!

What time should you collect your results?

Students can collect their results on results day from their schools, sixth forms and colleges anytime after 8am. This may be subject to opening times of the further education institution they attend.

For Scottish students registered to MySQA, you’ll likely be contacted (via email or text) on the day your results are published from 8am also. 

Preparing for Results Day:

  • UCAS will freeze in the days before results day, so any changes you’d like to make prior, such as updating contact details or accepting unconditional offers should be done about a week before results day.
  • Have your login details for UCAS Hub saved and ready, so you can log in easily after opening your results. 
  • Whether you get better or worse results than expected, you may want to consider going through clearing. For this process, we’d recommend compiling some details beforehand of backup universities and courses you’d want to reach out to, including their clearing contact details and UCAS course numbers. Some universities may have already shared information about their clearing options, and may accept both online applications and phone calls. You’ll also need to have your personal statement and GCSE results on hand to answer questions from the course tutors, as well as your UCAS number and clearing number. We’d recommend bringing a charger and a notepad and pen with you to your results day, so you can secure a place via clearing immediately, if that’s the route you choose to take. Remember, each course will have limited places, so it’s important to act quickly and come prepared for all eventualities! (Sign up here for the Heriot-Watt Priority Clearing Pass to skip our queue!)
  • If you have international qualifications, you may need to manually send your results across to your chosen university. Each institution has its own process for this so be sure to check this directly with the relevant organisation beforehand.
  • If you’re not available on results day, ensure you have nominated access on your UCAS Undergraduate application for someone to speak on your behalf. You’ll also need to organise how to receive your results, see more information on this below.

What if you can’t attend Results Day?

Ideally, you should be available to attend results day, so we’d recommend avoiding booking holidays or working. However, if you simply can’t attend on the day, you can have someone collect your results from your sixth form or college if they have a permission slip. Or, you may be able to arrange your results being emailed to you if this is something your learning provider offers.

Provided you’re able to get online yourself, you can still access UCAS Hub and check the status of your offers yourself. However, if you’re unable to do this, you’ll need to nominate a person on your behalf, such as a parent or guardian, who can access UCAS Hub and make changes on your behalf. You can nominate someone during the process of completing your application, however if this was not done you will need to contact UCAS to ensure your nominee has access.

Please keep in mind that if you’re relying on a nominated person to manage your university offers, they may need to discuss details of your application with UCAS and universities in tight deadlines. Again, we’d encourage you to get access to your own UCAS Hub on the morning of results day as a priority.

After receiving Your A-Level Results:

Once you open your results, celebrate good news, but don’t fret if it seems like bad news. At the end of the day, emotions will be running high, and it’s important to focus on yourself, not those around you. You have much to be proud of for getting through your A-Level courses, and these results are not what define you, or your future career. Once you open your results, the next step is checking the status of your university offers.

Checking university offers on UCAS:

Login to your UCAS Hub and check the status of your university offers. Again, this can be slow to update on results day, so you may need some patience with this. (If you know for a fact you’ll be applying through courses via clearing, you can begin making calls for this before UCAS updates, as long as you know your A-Level results, as this isn’t shown on UCAS.) When you go into UCAS Hub on A-Level results day, there are a variety of responses you may see, more details on this included below.

Whether you didn’t meet your conditional offers, or you’d like to reject an accepted offer or changed offers, try to keep calm and address the next steps. We’ve included advice on this below.

What time does UCAS Hub update on Results Day?

UCAS Hub will likely update around 8:15am (although the system may be slow to load as students across the country access the platform at the same time). It’s not uncommon for UCAS to take a few hours to update on results day so don’t panic! It may also take time for universities to confirm offers or make changes to offers where conditional offers were not met. To clarify, you won’t be able to view your results in UCAS, only the status of your university offers, and your clearing number. 

What if UCAS doesn’t update?

If you know you have met your conditional offer or have an unconditional offer then you will have nothing to worry about. However, if you have not met a conditional offer and UCAS doesn’t update after a few hours (e.g. from 10am), and your status has not changed to provide any information on this, it may be worth contacting your chosen university course directly. This way you can check if you can still be accepted, if there’s a possibility of a changed offer, or if you’ll need to go through clearing.

As the platform may be struggling due to the rush of users on results day, you may need to be patient and re-login (in the event of a crash). You can also check the UCAS X (formerly known as Twitter) account @ucas_online to confirm if there are any communications about technological issues. See more UCAS contact details here or call 0371 468 0 468.

Option A: You’ve met your offer for your preferred choice…

If you see “Congratulations! Your place at [University name] for [Course] has been confirmed”, you’ve been accepted! For example, if you had an unconditional offer as your top choice, this would have been accepted already. Likewise if you failed to meet a conditional offer as your top choice but had an unconditional offer from your second choice, this would have been automatically accepted.

If you met your conditional offer this would also have been accepted. Remember, UCAS may take a few hours to update so if this isn’t yet showing, don’t worry! But, if it doesn’t update within two days it’s worth phoning the university to confirm. 

The deadline for accepting your university offer:

Prior to results day, you will need to have selected a firm and an insurance offer for unconditional or conditional university placement offers. If you receive your university offers by 18th May 2023, your acceptance deadline is 8th June. However, if you receive your initial offers by 12th July 2023, your acceptance deadline is 17th July 2023.

After results day, if you have received a changed offer, you have 5 days to accept this offer in UCAS Hub. Or, if you have been offered a course place via clearing, you have 24 hours to accept this.

Deferring your university place on Results Day:

If you’d like to defer your university start date by a year, you’ll need to contact your university and provide a reason. For example, if you’ve been accepted to a course for September 2023, you can contact them to request your start in September 2024 instead.

There are many reasons you may want to defer your offer. This may include taking a gap year to work and save money, travelling abroad for a priceless experience, or in the event you simply feel you’re not yet ready to start university (for example, health reasons). Not all courses or universities will offer you to defer, and whether they do or not may be dependent on the reason you provide. We’d encourage you to research their policy before reaching out to request this. It’s also worth re-thinking deferring unless it’s necessary. A-Levels can be a stressful experience, so give yourself time to rest and relax before making a snap decision.

See the Heriot Watt Deferral Policy here.

Option B: You don’t have the grades you needed for your original offer…

  1. Your Offer is Not Accepted:
    If your status changes to "You are in Clearing. Your Clearing number is [Clearing number]", this means your chosen offers weren’t automatically accepted, but clearing is available for you to find an alternative course. There’s absolutely no shame in going through clearing, and many students find their place at university through this option. Find more support in overcoming unexpected A-Level results here.

  2. Your Offer is Pending:
    If your status changes to “You have replied to your offer(s) and are holding at least one conditional place”, this means the university hasn’t yet confirmed to UCAS whether you’ve met the conditions to be offered a place. In this case, keep an eye on the UCAS Hub for updates throughout the morning, as you may still be accepted! Find out more on what to do if you don’t get into your first choice university.
  3. Your Offer has Changed:
    Alternatively, if you see "At least one of your universities or colleges has offered you an unconditional place with substantial changes to your original choice", this means you’ve received all confirmed offers, and at least one has changed. In the instance of a change, you may be offered a similar course with different requirements or start dates, likely due to not meeting a conditional offer. In this instance, to accept an offer, you’ll need to reply within 5 days. You can also contact the university directly to discuss the details of changed offers.

Similarly, if your status changes to "[University name] has offered you an unconditional place with substantial changes to your original choice. You are now waiting for confirmation from [University name]", this means one of the university offers has changed, and the other university offer has not yet been confirmed with UCAS. If the change is for your insurance choice, you’ll need to wait until your firm choice has confirmed the status of your offer before you accept. If your firm choice has provided the change, you can either accept immediately or wait to confirm your insurance choice. 

If you’ve just missed out on your offer: back-up offers & reaching out to your Top Choice

If you missed out on your firm offer, wait to see what the status of your insurance offer is. In an ideal world, your insurance offer will have had a lower threshold for their conditional offer, which you may have met. However, if you narrowly missed out on a conditional offer, it may be worth reaching out to the university to see if there’s a chance you can still secure a place on the course. This may be a long shot, but it’s worth a try!

Consider going through Clearing:

If you didn’t get accepted, your best bet is to browse through clearing. Whether you have a back-up university in mind, or want to pivot to a different course entirely, clearing will give you a lot of flexibility in making your next move. Thousands of university students find their university place through clearing every year. Remember, there are limited spaces, so it’s important to be prepared and keep calm. You can still end the day with a secure, accepted offer to a course and university you want to be a part of, even if you didn’t get the results or offers you wanted.

Apply for Clearing 2023 at Heriot Watt.

Retaking your A-Levels & repeating a year:

If you had your heart set on a particular course that you’ve not met the grades for, and clearing doesn’t provide a suitable alternative, you may want to enrol to resit the course. Re-doing a year of A-Levels may not be the most attractive option, as there are additional costs associated with this for both the course and exams. It’s important to consider the prices before you make a decision, although paying A-Level college fees is cheaper than the student debt of a university course you’re not committed to.  

Consider taking a Foundation Year:

A foundation year is a great option if one is available for your chosen course. This is a great route into an undergraduate degree as it seeks to prepare you with the knowledge you’ll need to begin at bachelor level. This is ideal if you’ve narrowly missed out on the grades you need for your desired course, or if you attained good grades but didn’t take the right A-Level courses required by the course. Typically, the foundation year will prepare you for a degree with the same university, and simply adds an additional year of learning to your bachelors degree. In fact, some foundation courses allow you to enter into the second year of an undergraduate degree once you’ve successfully completed the foundation programme, so you won’t necessarily add additional time onto your time at university.

Find out more about our foundation programmes, and browse through our six accelerator foundation programmes, that allow you to enter into the second year of your undergraduate degree.

Appealing your grades & remarking:

To appeal your results for England A-Level results, you can ask your school to request a review from the exam board. Each exam board will have a deadline for review requests, so you’ll need to work within these time frames, and it may be marked higher or lower, which may make your overall grade higher or lower. If there were no marking mistakes identified and your grade stays the same, you may have to pay a fee, so it’s worth checking this before making your request.

Information on grounds to appeal SQA for Scotland.

Consider alternative pathways:

University isn’t the only option. If you’ve not got the grades for a clearing placement and resitting your A-Levels or doing a foundation course isn’t an option, then it may be time to consider alternatives to an undergraduate degree.

There may be a variety of ways to enter your preferred career, such as apprenticeships, internships, and work experience. You can also try applying a year later with a refreshed personal statement and ideally some relevant experience in the industry to strengthen your application. This may not be applicable to all courses, and even so is a long shot, but A-Level grades aren’t always the only consideration. Find out more about getting into University without A-Levels here.  

Option C: You got better grades than expected and want to review your options.

In the event that you surpassed your own expectations, you may be considering aiming higher! Clearing is a great way to review your options in light of your results, we’d advise you to begin reaching out to university courses you may be eligible for via clearing to see if they’d like to offer you a place.

Declining your offer on UCAS Hub:

If you’ve changed your mind about your accepted university offer, you can simply select the ‘Decline my place’ button on your offer, and follow the necessary steps to confirm. We’d only recommend you decline an offer if you’re absolutely sure. The best way to do this is to line up your preferred choice first.

For example, if you’re choosing to go through clearing, wait until you have a confirmed new offer, and the university instructs you to decline any existing offers before you take any steps to decline existing offers. This is because you’ll need to decline any existing offers before accepting a new clearing choice. (Don’t decline any offers if you’re looking to switch courses at the same university, as this will remove any scholarships or accommodation arrangements made).

Find out more in our Changing Your Mind About Your University Course blog.

How to go through Clearing:

The deadline for clearing choices this year is 17 October 2023, once you’ve received your results, if you’re eligible (don’t have an accepted offer), you’ll receive a clearing number in the UCAS Hub. However, we’d urge you to act quickly after you’ve received your results, as there are limited spaces available. You’ll need this number when you call universities on their course numbers or special clearing phone lines. Alternatively, you can use UCAS’ Clearing Plus tool via the ‘see matches’ section of your UCAS Hub once you’re logged in.

You’ll likely go through to an administrative line who will take initial details regarding your grades and experience. If you’re eligible for the course you may get a call back from the relevant admissions tutor or will need to arrange a time to call them directly. Some universities will have a mini-interview over the phone to determine if you’re eligible for a place, so be prepared to answer questions about why you’d like to apply for the course and what your long term goals are. You can also take the opportunity to ask your own questions about the course during this process.   

You’ll typically be told on the phone during this call whether you’ve been accepted, and you’ll then have 24 hours to confirm this in your UCAS Hub. You can reach out to multiple universities for verbal offers but only one clearing choice may be added into UCAS. You’ll also need to decline any accepted offers if you’d like to replace this with a clearing offer, although, don’t decline anything in UCAS until you have an offer lined up.

For more information, follow our complete 2023 Guide to Clearing with Heriot Watt.

Last reminders

Remember, no matter how your results day went, you’ve achieved so much getting through your A-Levels to get here! This is simply the start of your higher education journey, and there’s no right or wrong pathway to take. Results day can be an anxiety inducing day, so the important thing is to surround yourself with a good support system (whether it’s to celebrate with or cry with!). Take the time to rest and take care of yourself, your health and wellbeing is the most important thing.

Good luck!