If you didn't get the grades you expected, don’t panic. There are plenty of options available to you. If you’ve applied to university, read on for what to do.

What do I do first?

You may find your conditional firm or conditional insurance still offers you a place. So check UCAS Track to see if you have been accepted.

If you haven’t it’s worth calling the university directly to see as well. They may offer you an alternative course – this is known as a ‘changed course’ offer.

What else can I do?

Apply for your papers to be remarked if you think there has been a genuine mistake by your marker. You’ll need to speak to your teacher or tutor to arrange this and you’ll have to pay a fee as well.

However, please consider, this could also result in your grades being marked down. Make sure you talk it through properly with those closest to you.

What if I haven’t been accepted but still want to go to uni?

There’s still options open to you. It’s not the end of the world, just a different route to where you thought.

First of all, go through clearing. This is where UCAS matches students without places to courses without students. It can feel a bit chaotic, so try and stay clear-headed.

What is clearing?

Clearing is how unis and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses.

It’s an effective way for you to still find a course which suits you, by contacting unis and colleges directly to see if they still have a place.

You can use clearing if you’re applying after June 30, you didn’t receive any offers including any you wanted to accept, you didn’t meet the conditions of your offers or you declined your firm place.

Download the Which? guide to clearing


How stressful is clearing?

It can be stressful. The phone lines will be busy, and you’ll feel frantic. Remember this isn’t your last chance. There’s lots of alternatives and you can always try again next year if it doesn’t go your way this time. Just take a deep breath and have all your information ready.

It can help to be prepared. Some people say they looked up vacancies the night before and then had their numbers ready to call should they need them.

What if there’s nothing in clearing I want to do?

If this is the case, you can always retake your exams and reapply next year. Don’t be rushed into a course you’re not happy with or feel uncomfortable making a decision so quickly.

Most courses will give you between 24 and 48 hours to accept their offers – so don’t rush.

Make sure to get advice from friends, family, teachers and other advisers.

What else could I do?

You may want to consider a professional or vocational qualification. Or you could even become an apprentice where you can train and learn at the same time.

You could take a gap year. But make sure you’re doing something worthwhile with your time. Either working or volunteering or travelling (or ideally a combination of them all).

You could also reapply for January in some courses. This may avoid having to rush through clearing.

Helpline: Exam results helpline: 0800 100 900 from August 14-29 8am until 10pm.