A-Level results day is an extremely emotional day for students. This is the case for receiving both high and low grades. However, if you open that envelope and see that you have done much worse on your A-Levels than you ever could have imagined, it can be heart-breaking. However, don’t lose hope! If you have not been entirely successful with your A-Levels, there is no need to panic. There are plenty of other alternatives to A-Levels, which can still help you to get the career of your dreams.
If you want to discover three possible next steps you could take to get your desired career after maybe not doing as well on your A-Levels, check out the rest of this article!
What do you do if you fail your A-Levels?
The first thing to do when you open your results and have realised that you may have failed, is not to panic! Take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down.
Also, do not compare yourself to others! It is probably best to not hear any of your peers’ results until you have calmed down, as this could be too overwhelming.
There is no need to panic at all because there are plenty of options which you can take to progress into your future, without needing those pesky A-Level grades. Check out the different alternatives below to see what you can do if you ever do actually fail your A-Levels.
1. Find a course via Clearing if you failed your A-Levels
Clearing is a very popular option to take if students have achieved lower grades than they may have expected. This option cannot be taken if you have completely failed your A-Levels, as you need some A-Level grades to get into university.
However, clearing is a very useful tool to use if your grades are lower than expected and as a result, you don’t have a place on a university course. Clearing is what universities use to fill up spots on the courses they offer.
Any university courses which have spare places show up on clearing, allowing students who don’t have a place at university to call up and request that they take the spot. You must meet the grade requirements for the course you are calling up to.
However, some courses may actually lower their entry requirement grades, depending on the number of places available. This is explained in more detail in this article from Think Student. There are plenty of courses out there which require a lower set of grades!
This is especially the case if the course is more practical based. Consequently, don’t be disheartened if you don’t do as well on your A-Levels as you needed to get into the first course that you wanted.
There is still another way to get into university! You can check out this full guide on Clearing from UCAS to discover more.
You can also check out this Think Student article to learn a little bit more about Clearing as well as other UCAS services, such as UCAS Extra.
2. Take a gap year if you failed your A-Levels
A gap year is what some students take after they have finished their A-Levels. It is basically a free year they can take whilst other students start university. As a result, taking a gap year will mean that you start university a year later than everybody else.
However, if you have failed your A-Levels or not done as well in them as you thought you would have, a gap year can be a fantastic option. This is because it can give you a bit of a break after education, where you can figure out what you can do next.
The worst thing to do during a gap year however is to sit on the sofa and do nothing! You need to use your gap year to the best of your advantage. You could use it to gain work experience, by getting a full-time job. This could be related to the career that you want to have in the future.
Alternatively, you could travel to different places around the world to learn about the different cultures and people who are less fortunate than you are. You could also have a go at volunteering and help charities which are close to your heart.
Regardless of what you do during your gap year, make sure that it is beneficial and adds to your character. This is because your experiences can then be used to enhance your next UCAS application if you apply to go to university again.
If you don’t want to apply to university, then a gap year can still be a fantastic option, as you will be given experiences you will never forget. You could then enter the world of work afterwards with your CV enhanced by all of your new experiences.
3. Take an alternative pathway in education if you failed your A-Levels
If you have got much lower grades than you expected, you may not be able to get onto any university course. However, I repeat, do not panic!
You can still get into university. You can do this by applying to do a higher national certificate. This is a qualification which is equivalent to the first year of university and has much lower entry requirements compared to university.
As a result, you could gain a higher national certificate qualification and then enter the second year of your degree at university. You can discover in more detail what HNCs are if you check out this article from Think Student.
A foundation year is also a viable option. This is an extra year you can take at university before starting the course. This would prepare you academically for university. You can learn about these in more detail in this article from Times Higher Education.
Alternatively, if university isn’t for you, you could always consider an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are gaining more and more popularity due to how beneficial they really are.
They are very much valued by employers and most require lower A-Level grades than university courses. Some don’t even require A-Level grades at all! This is because you may have to sit a test the apprenticeship company sets or be interviewed extensively. As a result, sometimes personality is better than grades for a job.
Some apprenticeships are also classed as Level 3 qualifications, which is equivalent to A-Levels. This means that you may only need GCSE results to be accepted into them. You can discover more about apprenticeships if you check out this article from Think Student.
Can you work straight away if you fail your A-Levels?
Many jobs don’t actually require you to have any A-Level grades. Often, having a set of GCSE grades is sufficient enough.
In fact, there are even a wide range of jobs that won’t even need you to have GCSEs. You can find more about these in this Think Student article.
Therefore, if you are fed up with education after you have received your A-Level grades and just want to earn some money, working straight away could be a great option for you. Look at this article from Metro that details a list of jobs you could do without any A-Levels.
Alternatively, as already stated, an apprenticeship could also be a good option. Apprenticeships can be classed as jobs because you will be getting paid as you learn. You can find out more about this if you read this article from Think Student.
If you really don’t enjoy learning and are fed up with being in a classroom all day, there is no point striving to go to university. University isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy learning more practically, then it may be useful to consider an apprenticeship.
Alternatively, if you just want to go straight into the world of work, apply for a job! It is your life, so it is your decision.
Do you have to retake A-Levels if you fail?
It is true that if you fail your A-Levels, you do have the option of retaking them. You could just re-do Year 13 again and sit the A-Level exams a year after you failed them.
If you end up passing them the second time, you will be joining university only a year later. Therefore, this is a great option if you enjoy the environment of your sixth form or college and think that retaking a year is the best option for you. You can discover how to retake your A-Levels if you check out this article from Think Student.
However, it is not compulsory to retake your A-Levels if you fail. After you have taken your A-Levels the first time, you should have turned 18 years old before September. As a result, education is no longer compulsory for you.
This means that even if you have failed your A-Levels, it is not compulsory for you to retake them. This is all down to personal choice. Many students choose to do foundation years or Higher National Certificates instead because they want to leave their sixth form or college as soon as possible!
This is completely fine and down to personal choice. If you want to discover all of the information about A-Level resits, check out this guide from ICS Learn.
Is failing A-Levels the end of the world?
Your A-Levels are not the be all and end all. As a result, failing them is not the end of the world! As you have already discovered, there are plenty of options you can take after finding out your A-Level results.
However, it is always best to try your hardest with your A-Levels and don’t go into them with the intention of failing them. If you feel that you are failing your A-Levels currently and don’t know what to do about it, check out this article from Think Student for some tips.
How do you help a friend who has failed their A-Levels?
If your friend has failed their A-Levels, it is hard to find the right words to say. This is because if they really cared about getting into a certain university course, this could be devastating for them!
As a result, it is best to be as understanding as possible. Put yourself in their shoes and try to be as empathetic as you can. Tell them not to panic and remind them that there are so many other options they can take to still get the career of their dreams.
If you are finding it difficult to think of what comforting words to say to them, check out this article from Think Student for some tips.
How do you prevent failing your A-Levels?
If you are struggling with your A-Levels currently, the best thing to do is to take action now! If you don’t understand a certain concept or topic, alert your teachers! They should then give you some extra help and support to make sure that you do understand it.
If you realise that you are not spending a lot of time revising or studying, it may be time to assess the situation and start lessening certain aspects of your life which are taking up an immense amount of time.
Earning money is important, however if your job is taking up a lot of studying time, it may be best to cut down the hours or quit the job all together. After all, if you do well in your A-Levels, you could potentially be earning much more money compared to if you don’t do very well in them.
You also may have to socialise less. This may be hard to hear for some of you. However, trust me on this! You only have to be a hermit for a little while!
After you have finished your A-Levels, you will have so much time on your hands. Too much! (In my experience). As a result, if you focus more on your A-Levels and spend more time on them, you are less likely to fail, and you’ll still have lots of time afterwards to socialise and enjoy.
It is also important that you have effective revision strategies. If you don’t know how to revise properly, this can be a problem. It is so important that you revise to the best of your ability.
If you want to discover some effective revision strategies, check out this article from Think Student. However, if you take all of these tips into account, try your hardest but still fail your A-Levels, it is not the end of the world.
Just remember that grades do not define you.