21 Tips for Receiving Exam Results

Time is approaching when thousands of teenagers will wake up knowing they will find out their A level results. As a mum myself, I have taken both my children through the surprises of results day and have learnt a considerable amount along the way. Hopefully you will find these tips helpful and I wish everyone luck in their next steps – whatever they may be!

It is a decisive day when emotions are high and probably mixed. For many it is the end of two years hard work and a crossroads as to where to head in the future.


Know where you need to be and what time. Take the number of your university admissions office with you in case you need to call them and check whether they will still accept you if your grades aren’t as predicted.


Exam boards post the results online, but you need to pre-register. Most people go in person to school, which has the advantage that you can get advice from your teachers while you are there.


If you are away on holiday, you can authorise someone else to go and collect them for you or you can have them posted to your home… if you can bear the wait!


Do have a contingency plan. Make sure you have looked up universities online beforehand. Courses with vacancies will be advertised on the UCAS website. Take a note of the course codes and university telephone numbers so you have some idea of what they are like. If things don’t go according to plan and an alternative offer comes up, you can make an informed decision. Also take a copy of your personal statement.

Celebrate or Commiserate

If you go the results you wanted, fantastic news! Pat yourself on the back and celebrate in style, although do be discrete around friends who haven’t received such good news.

If you haven’t received what you wanted, take a deep breath and roll your sleeves up. It’s a good idea to take a friend or family member with you to help and support you if you need it. Don’t forget it may not be as bad as it first appears and there are many routes you can take to get to the same career choices. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs had disastrous GCSE or A’Level results.

19 Tips for Receiving Exam Results


It’s hard to stay composed when you are exhilarated or gutted. Try to remain balanced whatever your results.

Congratulate Others

Be pleased for your peers who have got the grades they needed. It can be an awkward time for friendships with differing ambitions and results sometimes causing a strain at this time.  


If you need to have a good cry, then do so. It will help you to feel better.


However… after a good cry to get it out of your system, keeping as calm as you can will help you make decisions. If you feel panicky or have a panic attack, take some calming breaths to regain your composure. To read our article on dealing with panic attacks click here. Panic attacks are very common and it is helpful to know the best way to manage them.


… your university and see if they are still willing to offer you a place. It’s worth a phone call, especially if you were only a few marks short. If your grades don’t meet your firm offer, then look at your insurance option on your UCAS form. If you’ve made the grade for this, you have a place. If not consider changing, see below.

Shop around

If you get better grades than anticipated and want to try for another university, look into UCAS Adjustment. This holds your firm offer for five days while you shop around for other courses with higher entrance requirements. You needn’t give up your original offer until you accept a new one, so it’s a fail-safe option. 

Clearing system

Apparently as many as one in ten students find a university place through UCAS. The UCAS clearing system finds course places at universities UK-wide that match the grades you got. If you are keen to study a specific course, you may just need to switch university to do so. If you are keen to go to a specific university, you may need to switch course. 

Course adviser

Get help from your course or study adviser to make sure you know how to complete the UCAS process. 

Consider resits

It could be worth considering retaking your exams and reapplying to university again next year. You could study part time and work part time to save funds for university. 

Consider a Gap Year

Get away, get life experiences, travel or earn money. When you come back you’ll be in a better position to know what you want and what you need to do to get it. And if nothing else you’ll have a tan and some great stories to tell. 

Consider Other Routes

… to your chosen career – you could apply for apprenticeships or a school leavers programme. Or simply start in your chosen career and work your way up.

Comparing Yourself to Others

… leads to despair so try to avoid it. And you may want to keep off social media for a day or two until you regain your sense of perspective.


Try to retain your perspective during all of this. Many high fliers didn’t get many or any qualifications and it hasn’t held them back! Richard Branson left school at 16, Simon Cowell got one O level, newsreader Jon Snow apparently got a C in A level English and Lord Alan Sugar got one GCSE. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both dropped out of university.

… And Breathe

Results seem immensely important, as though the rest of your life pivots on that one grade. The truth is, it doesn’t. If you ask your parents or grandparents what GCSE or A levels results they got (if any) most of them will struggle to remember, if they can at all!

First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

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