A-level results: What if I don't make my grades? What is 'adjustment'? How can I get help? Everything you need to know

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After 14 years of study, revision and exams, this year’s crop of A-level students are about to get their results.

Thousands of pupils will endure the nail-biting trip to school as they wait to know if they have achieved what they need to move forward with their university and work plans.

Here’s everything you need to know for the big day.

When are the results out?

This year, students across most of the UK can collect their results on Thursday, August 17.

Scottish students have already received theirs though, on August 8.

The long slog of school study is over (PA)

What should I take with me?

If you’re planning to go to university, take your UCAS ID and clearing number, and contact information to get in touch with your firm or insurance offer.

It is also be useful to have module results, personal statement and reference close at hand.

You can track your offers on UCAS’s special tool Track, but don’t forget your login details.

Future plans may be on track, but it’s not the end of the world to change path (Matt Writtle)

What happens if I don’t make the right grades?

If you hold a conditional offer but don’t get the grades to meet it, the university can still accept you – but it’s at their discretion.

They could also offer you a place on a different course.

If no decisions are showing on Track, call the institutions.

If these fall through, you can still get a place to study through clearing.  

What is clearing?

Clearing is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses. Tens of thousands of students use it every year.

UCAS has a search tool listing vacancies including courses at highly rated institutions.

If you are concerned that your grades should have been better, you can ask for remarks or plan to resit exams.

Remember, you can take a gap year, or even take a change in route by going into work or an apprenticeship.

Phone operators take calls in the Clearing centre at London South Bank University (Myung Jung Kim/PA)

What if I do better than I expected?

If you do better than the grades needed for your firm offer, you’re entitled to apply for courses with higher entry requirements in a process called adjustment.

You have a period of five days to look for alternatives from the date your conditional offer is converted to an unconditional one.

What if your results are good enough, and you don’t want to change anything?

If you’ve met the conditions of your offer, it’s time to celebrate. 

Confirmation will appear in Track within five to seven days – you will not be sent an email or letter.

Read the confirmation letter carefully since it may contain important information.

What if I need help?

UCAS’s exam results call-in opens at 7.30am, and its social media team is also on hand on Twitter and Facebook.

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