Our Director of Innovation, Binda Patel, discusses how students can best navigate tomorrow’s results day.

Whilst it might feel like we are nearly in a post-Covid world, the impact of the pandemic is still being felt by millions, and young people have faced serious negative impacts. Despite this, students have worked incredibly hard to turn things around and dedicated hundreds of hours to their education. 

But we know it’s been a tough ride for many of you. Year 10 was your last normal year of teaching, and your A-levels, T-levels or VTQs are the first formal exams you’ve sat. 

We recently published research which explored the pandemic’s continued impact on students who sat exams this year, looking at the scale of disruption and the views of both young people and teachers on the arrangements in place. We found that: 

  • 1 in 5 students we polled missed over 20 days of school or college (that’s roughly 10% of the total number of days you’re at school or college, which is a lot!) 
  • 45% of the teachers we surveyed felt that this year’s exam mitigations didn’t go far enough to reflect the disruption you have faced 
  • 60% of students we surveyed were worried about getting into their first-choice university 

Whilst it might feel like the odds are stacked against students receiving results this week, you must remain positive and be smart by preparing for results day. Why? Because you have worked so hard in very difficult times, you are ambitious and we (and everyone else around you) are rooting for you to succeed and fulfil your aspirations.

We’ve collated a wealth of great advice and guidance on how to prepare for results day which you can read below. This covers the basics around the timeline, what options you have on results day and next steps, along with some more detailed guidance on Clearing. 

Advocating for yourself 

If you miss out on your first-choice university, it’s still worth giving them a call to see if there is any leeway. There is a lot of movement of places on the day and some universities can still accommodate.

If you find yourself going through Clearing, remember there will be lots of places available through this route. It’s crucial that you advocate for yourself and tell universities why you are the best candidate. You will have your personal statement which is packed full of great reasons why you want to study the subject and all the excellent work you’ve put into demonstrating your knowledge about the subject and your commitment to the course.

You should also talk about the impact of the pandemic on you, for example if you did not have a place to work, a laptop to use or a stable internet connection during school closures. These challenges were more likely to impact young people from lower income homes. The admissions advisor you speak to might not be aware of the challenges and it will provide context to your situation. 

It will work out. 

I was three marks off the A grade that I needed to get into my first-choice university. I had to go through UCAS Clearing and was nervous about the process. My Head of Sixth Form gave me some great advice on how to advocate for myself and how best to prepare for the call. I became my biggest champion that day. I secured my university place, and I haven’t looked back since.  But even if you don’t get into your first choice, there are plenty of other options, either at another university, or going onto an apprenticeship or into employment. The National Careers Service can help you to explore the different routes available. 

All of us at the Sutton Trust are wishing you the best of luck. You can do it.  

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