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Exam results — light at the end of the tunnel

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

Leticia, our Company Manager, gives some key advice on how to pursue your goals even if your results weren't exactly what you expected.

Medical School application tips

Results day — you were either really looking forward to this day or, in most cases, silently dreading it. So, the day arrives, and various mixed emotions can be picked out on the faces in the crowd — parents and students alike. When you got the envelope, you were probably unsure of whether to rip it open like a band aid or let yourself down gently. You may have had an idea of the letters or numbers you’d see on the paper, but it was never going to hit you fully until you saw it printed in black and white. Unchanging, unrelenting single figures that told you that you’d need to re-think your plans for the coming academic year. Did it feel like it was all going up in flames? That placement you needed an A in Maths for, or the university you’d been so excited to start packing for, or your plans to study certain subjects at 6th form after GCSEs?

Frustration, anger, despair... giving up never seemed so enticing. It’s important to remember that this isn’t the end, though. Seriously, even if your grades aren’t what you expected, it’s very likely you’ll still be able to pursue the goals you set; you may just need to do this via a different route. 

For GCSE students, you’re likely to be able to retake the subjects you need alongside your A Level subjects, depending on the school. If you needed to study 3 Sciences at A Level and aren’t able to take those without achieving a specific grade, you may be able to retake those GCSEs in the autumn term (November exams), then pick up the A Levels once this is done - just check with the respective sixth forms first!

For A Level students, it could seem like the end of the world not to achieve your grades due to the number of consequences you’re immediately faced with: potentially needing to choose a different university, whether it be one of your other options, or through clearing, which would mean looking for accommodation elsewhere, and other preparations like this.

Some students choose to change their course, for example studying Biomedical Science instead of Medicine. This could mean having to buy alternative course material and returning books that may have already been purchased etc.

However, what happens when you don't want to have to change either the university choice or course? You wouldn’t be alone if you think this way, and there are ways to maximise your chances of getting a place on the course you’ve set your mind on at your desired university. You could try:

1. Appealing the decision with the university.

If the university allows appeals, and you’ve narrowly missed the requirements for the course, you may be eligible to appeal the rejection - so you could check with the university if you fit the eligibility criteria, then follow the steps for appeal. It’s important to note that the chances of acceptance can be quite slim, but not impossible, so I’d certainly recommend trying!

2. Applying to have your papers remarked

If you feel you should have done better, and genuinely believe there could be a mistake with your results, you could look into having your exam scripts looked at again. This comes at a cost but could be the difference between having the university place or not. This might work better for essay-based subjects like English, where the mark scheme leaves a lot to the marker’s discretion. Because it is subjective to an extent, you could end up with a better mark, or indeed one that’s worse, so it definitely requires some thought before going down this route.

3. Retaking your A-Levels

If you know you could have done better if you’d revised a bit more, or if you just weren’t feeling your best during the exam, you may want to re-sit papers. Work out the difference between the score you have, and what you need to get on the course. This should help you decide which modules to re-do. Some universities / courses don’t accept students who did re-sits, so it’s important to check this first to avoid disappointment.

If you decide to take a gap year, it could be wise to try to gain some experience, as this could put you at an advantage in the next round of university applications. If you have relevant experience, it will be obvious to those reviewing your second application that you’re passionate about the subject area and will show that you’ve taken initiative by furthering your learning outside of the classroom. You’re not a quitter!

You may decide that you no longer wish to go to university. University isn’t necessarily the best way forward for everyone, so this doesn’t need to be seen as a negative thing at all! My recommendation would be to think about obtaining a vocational qualification. What are you good at? Which subjects did you get the best grades in? Perhaps you could go into a field related to that subject. Often people think there aren’t many other options besides construction, care or hairdressing and similar. However, there’s a world of options out there, and it just takes a little bit of research online, and maybe a few phone calls and emails. You could find while studying for a vocational qualification that you do much better with a more hands-on or practical approach to learning.

This article doesn’t exhaust the options open to you if you didn’t get your A Level grades, but this is a start, and hopefully after reading this you’re feeling a little more positive about your next steps. Good luck!

If you or your child require some educational consultation, then feel free to get in touch to find out how we might be able to assist you. Visit the Titanium Tutors website for more information!

Blog Post Crafted by Leticia

Leticia runs our Admin Team, supporting tutors, clients and applicants. She loves singing and will almost always be seen making a beeline for the microphone at any karaoke night!

Leticia manages the staff on our Admin Team, and often liaises with tutors, clients and applicants. She is also responsible for processing the ID, Qualifications, DBS Check and References for all our newly joining tutors.


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