Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates

Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates

Catch up with the latest exam and university application information

Exam Results

Getting your exam results can be stressful, and you may want to think about it as little as possible. However, you should put some time aside to plan. Read through our guide so you are ready for every eventuality. 

Click to skip to:
Before Results • What if I get my expected results?
What if my results are better than expected? • What if I miss my grades?

Clearing 2020 Infographic

Before Results

Most of you will be waiting for exam results before finding out if you’ve been accepted by your university choices. Relax and enjoy your summer, but be sure to plan ahead for your results.

Be prepared for not getting the results you’re hoping for and having to go through Clearing. Make a list of potential alternative courses and universities with numbers you may need to ring.

If you are an International Baccalaureate or Scottish Higher student, you will receive your exam results before A Level students. This gives you less time to prepare but a head start if you miss your grades and go into Clearing.

Unconditional offer holders

If this is you, your results are a formality. However, still double check all terms and conditions of your offer and be sure that you want to study the course. See more about unconditional offers.

Top tips from James Seymour, Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment at the University of Gloucestershire:

"If you are awaiting results in August, don't panic about others catching Clearing places before you. The cap on numbers has been lifted for most courses and universities, and universities plan their student numbers so you won't miss out.

"But do plan ahead. Have a list of possible Clearing or Adjustment options. You can even contact universities in advance of Results Day, and pre-register for vacancies on their websites."

What if I get my expected results?

Well done! If you have met the conditions of either your firm or insurance choice this means you have a place at university. Before you start to celebrate, you should take the following steps:

  • Still check UCAS Track. This is especially important if you have fallen short of your Conditional Firm (CF) but met the conditions of your Conditional Insurance (CI). Your CF might still accept you with lower grades.
  • You will receive confirmation of your place from UCAS, with an online form to sign to confirm that you still want it. 
  • Details from your chosen university of when and how to register will follow.
  • If you have any additional questions, or just want some reassurance, you can phone or email the university. Have your UCAS number ready when you call, and be sure to make the call yourself.
  • This is the busiest time of year for universities so you may have to wait on the phone. If your question isn’t urgent, it’s probably worth waiting a few days before phoning.

Have you changed your mind about where you want to go to university? You can either use Clearing strategically, or use Adjustment if you are eligible.

What if my grades are better than expected?

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off and there are several options available to you. You can:

  • Stick to your original Conditional Firm (CF) university choice.
  • Take a year out and reapply to a university with higher entry requirements next year.
  • Go through Adjustment.


Adjustment allows students who have achieved better grades than the conditions of their CF to hold their place open whilst looking at other courses with higher grade requirements.

You will know if you are eligible for Adjustment as your UCAS Track profile will display a ‘Register for Adjustment’ option.

If you do change your mind and want to attend somewhere different, make sure your decisions are measured and rational.

Adjustment can be useful in larger cities where there are two or more universities in close proximity, and it is easy to switch universities if accommodation is not an issue. If you wish to live away from home make sure to check accommodation availability before making any agreements with a university or UCAS.

How to use Adjustment

Unlike Clearing, there is no vacancy list for Adjustment, and you need to check course details and contact universities or colleges directly to enquiry about vacancies.

When you are talking to the institutions, remember to say that you are applying through Adjustment, and that you are just gathering information. Do not verbally agree to an offer until you are absolutely sure that you want to go there.

Adjustment opens on Thursday 16 August (A Level Results Day). It stays open until August 31. Once you have registered for Adjustment and your CF has changed to a UF, you will have five days to find a new course. If, at the end of this five-day period you have not found a new course, you will still be able to accept your UF.

What if I miss my grades?

If you just miss your grades, you may find that your Conditional Firm or Conditional Insurance still offers you a place.

For example, you were offered BBB (120 points) at A Level but got BBC (112 points), and are still given a place. This may be because the university is short of applicants, or other offer holders got worse results than you.

Check UCAS Track to see if you have been accepted. If you haven’t, it’s worth calling the university and asking directly if they will accept you.

If the university does not offer you a place on the course you applied for, they may offer you a similar course. For instance, if you applied for Psychology, they may offer Psychology and Sociology as a joint honours course – this is called a ‘changed course offer’.

If both of your choices have been rejected you can:

  • Go through Clearing. This is where UCAS matches students without places to courses without students. Clearing can feel frantic, so get prepared and read our full guide – complete with FAQs, real-life stories and more.
  • Retake your exams and reapply next year. The last thing you want is to rush into a course or university you’re unhappy with.
  • Take a gap year. Use this time to travel, work, or combine the two. This will enrich your personal statement. It may also give you better headspace to think about what you want to do in the future. See more alternatives to full-time study.
  • Take a mini-gap year and reapply for January. Some universities offer entry points at the beginning of the calendar year. This allows you time to save some money or secure accommodation – rather than having to rush through Clearing.

Read more tips on how to make Results Day go as smooth as possible.


If you need more help, there are hotlines you can call for advice about Results Day and Clearing. 

  • UCAS: 0371 468 0 468 (UK callers) or +44 330 3330 230 (if you are calling from outside the UK).
  • The SQA candidate advice line: 0808 100 8000, open from 8am-8pm on 6 and 7 August, and from 9am-5pm from 9-15 August. You can also email: customer@sqa.org.uk.
  • Skills Development Scotland's exam helpline offers advice on careers and university and college vacancies. It will be open from 8am until 8pm on 8 and 9 August and from 9am until 5pm from 10 until 16 August. The number is 0808 100 8000.