Strange Days – Results Day Guide 2020

24th July 2020

Be Prepared

These are indeed the strangest of days to be picking up A-level or GCSE results this August. You may be feeling a combination of many different things. This is ok.

How you pick up your results this year will vary by school or college, as will the support on hand. Some places have groups of students arriving in “bubbles” and others are offering virtual arrangements. Make sure you heed the advice of your school or college and check what this is before setting off.

Check whether you will need to:

  • Bring your own pen, paper or phone to make any notes of advice you are provided and/or for phoning universities/colleges/6th
  • Bring an umbrella or coat if queuing outdoors.
  • Have a specific time you must arrive.
  • Wear a mask and enter/exit via certain doors.
  • Adhere to restrictions on parking and the numbers of people (if any) who can come with you.
  • Bring your own tissues (for tears of joy or sadness) as schools will be unlikely to supply these as they usually would.

Be mindful and follow all government guidance at the time on social distancing, as well as the restrictions put in place by your school or college for your safety.

Don’t forget to be patient and kind, with each other and the staff. It will be a different day but hopefully still one of celebration and success for many. 


Whatever happens, there are always productive and positive options you can pursue. It is important to remember this.

If you haven’t been given a place on your chosen path, make sure you gather advice on what all of your options are. If you’re lucky, you will have access to a fully qualified independent careers adviser, either in your school, on the phone, via video or by email.

If you don’t, make use of any services your local authority may provide as well as independent services.

The National Careers Service will be running a dedicated free Exams Helpline. The helpline is open from A-level results day until a week after GCSE results day.

National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline: 0800 100 900

The National Careers Service remains available to you and your families for support. It is free to access at:


Exams have been disrupted this year and so re-sits are on some people’s mind. It is worth being aware of the implications around these if you choose to pursue this as an option.

Note: All details at the time of writing are correct but, be mindful that government advice and guidelines can change.

The government recently updated their results page regards results and re-sits:

“Students who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their ability will have the opportunity to sit an exam in the autumn term. AS and A level exams will take place in October and GCSE exams in November.

“Our aim is for A level results to be awarded before Christmas. Universities representatives have assured us that universities will be as flexible as possible in their admissions.

“Any student wanting to understand the implications for university admission of taking these autumn exams should speak to the university from which they have an offer after receiving their calculated grades in the summer.”

With regards students taking VTQs:

“VTQ students can appeal if they believe that the assessment process was not followed correctly. Students who do not feel their result reflects their ability will be able to sit an assessment at the next available opportunity. Ofqual is working with awarding organisations to agree arrangements for autumn assessment opportunities for VTQs where appropriate.

Students will also have the option to take their exams in summer 2021, in line with usual practice”

It is important to note that although students may choose to re-sit, their year to prepare may not be “taught” – this will depend on the institute they are at. It is important to check this when deciding as well as being aware of the following:

  • The re-sit is for the exam portion of their qualification. If their qualification is made up of other assessed portions which are greater than the exam, there maybe little benefit taking a re-sit (as even if they do better their grade won’t change).
  • Re-sits will only be offered if enough students apply to take them.
  • Appeals for grades are dealt with on an individual basis by the exams officer at each school or college, who are usually available on the day.

With regards how re-sits affect college and 6th form enrolment, if the applicant is wishing to attend college/6th form and study their chosen course(s)/subject(s), they need to enrol when invited. Because even if the re-sit is taken after September, it will be a few weeks before the results are published. By this time there is every chance that colleges and schools will have closed enrolment for most courses.

For universities, there is some debate as to whether they can be more flexible as enrolment is later.

If you decide to take a re-sit and not attend a 6th form, college or study programme, consider what you will do during this time carefully. Especially if you don’t have work or an apprenticeship lined up.

If a student does re-sit, they can choose which grade is used later:

“Students who choose to take an exam in the autumn will be able to choose between their predicted grade and what they get in the exam. This means if they do worse in the exam they can still keep their predicted grade.”

 Post 18 – A-Levels

If you are collecting your A-Level results and have applied via UCAS, make sure you have your login details with you. Be prepared to give yourself time if things need “sorting out”. So, don’t book yourself on holiday or onto a shift at work that afternoon!

  • Don’t assume you haven’t been offered a place at your chosen university, college, training centre, apprenticeship or school if you don’t get the grades you needed or expected. Always check directly with them.
  • Give yourself time to consider your choices. If looking at university (higher education) don’t be in a hurry to enter clearing and settle for any course. However, be aware the most competitive courses may be snatched up quickly if you’re not fast enough… get the balance right between rushing in too fast (making a rash decision) and dawdling, thereby missing out on courses!
  • Ask yourself whether your chosen option will get you to your goal; whether this is a career, self-discovery or higher learning for life. Check whether there is more than one way to get to your destination, such as Apprenticeships or distance learning.

If you have done better than expected and applied to university be aware you can enter adjustment to look at other courses:

Clearing & Finance

New for 2020 is Clearing Plus, which enables specific students in clearing to be matched to courses that may suit them. Read more about this here:

Keep in mind there maybe a delay in funding getting to you and your chosen university in time, if making a late application. If this is the case, you may need to set up some transition arrangements with the university you are going to whilst you wait for your funding. If you speak to the finances team at your university, they should be able to discuss this with you.

These links are useful for further preparation:

Post 16 – GCSEs

If considering choices after GCSEs, keep in mind many (but not all) colleges and 6th forms offer a flexible six week ‘wiggle period’ where you can switch courses if they have space, allowing you room to assess whether your chosen pathway is right for you. If you discover it isn’t, make sure you access support from your careers service to explore all your options.

As with students picking up A-Levels, don’t assume you haven’t been offered a place at your chosen 6th form, college, training centre or apprenticeship if you don’t get the grades you needed or expected. Always check directly with them.

Lastly, remember your choices aren’t just college or 6th form after GCSEs, there are a huge range of study programmes, work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships you can explore depending on your grades and situation.

Note: Guidelines around apprenticeships and traineeships are currently being updated to reflect the new initiatives from the government in this unusual time.

Support & Help

Look after your mental well-being; it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Make use of the support networks around you in school, college and at home. If you feel there is no one you can turn to please look for help from support services such as Samaritans and NHS Helplines:

There are local services in many areas across the country who can offer support with both career choices and emotional health. In Kent we provide support for adults and young people in different ways.

  • You can access CXK’s services:
  • Free resources to help you with your career options and emotional well-being can be found at:

Good luck!

Whatever happens on the day, we wish you and your friends the best of luck. If, however, you find yourself stuck, please reach out for support. We are here.

Stay safe and take care.

Chris Targett, CXK Careers Adviser & Area Manager, Schools Careers Service

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