What to do if I fail my A Levels

You’ve done your best but you had an off day or two. You didn’t think those topics would come up. You are now wondering “what to do if I fail my A Levels.”

Whatever it is, those A Levels didn’t quite go to plan. It’s not the outcome you wanted of course, but there is no need to panic. You have several options here, depending on your goals and personal circumstances. In this article, you will see the options available to you to make the right choice for you!

A Level students receiving advice on what to do if I fail my A Levels.

What to do if I fail my A Levels ? 

Missed your offer

Perhaps you have missed your offer grades and you can’t go to your first-choice university anymore. Time for some introspection! How important is that to you? Is your heart set on that university or course? What about your backup? Lots of students find alternative courses during Clearing – is that an option for you? Or, are you prepared to re-sit and re-apply the following year? 

Ask yourself where your head and heart are, to make a confident choice for your next steps. Understanding your own wants and needs is so important when you find yourself thinking what to do to if I fail my A Levels. 

Clearing

After A Level results are published, many universities and courses find themselves with extra spaces for students. According to UCAS, some seventy-thousand students found places through Clearing last year! 

If you didn’t quite get the grades you wanted, you may be able to find a space at another institution. It’s worth having a look at the vacancies on offer. If you’ve found one that you’re interested in, UCAS recommends giving the institution a call to see if your results match the entry requirements. You may be able to find an alternative you love! 

You can apply to one Clearing space a time, so make sure you speak to the admissions office. It is important to have a good understanding of the admissions process. Knowing this will mean you will feel less stress if you find yourself wondering, what to do if I fail my A Levels.

Young woman with her A Level school books

What to do if I fail my A Levels and want to re-sit. 

So, your heart is set on a particular university or course, and they’re not available through Clearing. You’re confident that things could go differently next time if you were to do this again. It’s okay! Lots of students who are in the same position as you, and are wondering what to do if I fail my A Level, re-sit every year.  Then they re-apply with their new grades. If you’re comfortable with a bit of a delay to your university dreams, this may be an option for you.

First, contact your chosen university of choice. Would they be happy to defer your place for a year, provided you make the grades next time? What about your second choice? 

If not, then it’s worth bearing in mind your personal circumstances and timelines. There has been a change to re-sit periods which affect when you can apply to universities again. In the past, you could re-sit your exams in January. In the 2021 academic year, this is unlikely to continue and students may be required to re-sit in the usual May/June exam period. Make sure you check the latest updates on exam schedules, as they may have changed during the pandemic. 

This means you may need to re-apply after receiving A Level results the following year, so would attend university the year after that. The benefit here is you would already have your results, so it is likely your university offers would be unconditional. 

Re-Sits: going from what to do if I fail my A Levels, to I’m going to pass.

You decided that re-sitting an A Level or two is the way forward. The key will be here to give yourself the best chance to get the grades you want or need next time. Attitude and motivation will be very important here.

Firstly, what sixth forms or community higher education colleges offer re-sits? Have a look at what’s available in your area. Most students choose to re-take A Level courses they’ve already done but in some circumstances you might want to choose different subjects this time.

Secondly, have a think about what you want to do differently this time. It’s important you think back to what didn’t go quite right the first time. Do you need to invest more time in revising? Were there some concepts that just never sat quite right? 

Make sure to seek the support you need to succeed in this second go. There are plenty of resources online which can help – from online revision planners, to practice papers, to traditional textbooks, there will be something out there to help you. Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher or tutor for specific guidance too. Taking the decision to re-sit an exam or two isn’t an easy one, and sometimes talking through a concept with an experienced educator can help set you on the right path. 

Commit to round 2

As part of your plan for what to do if I fail my A Levels, commitment and motivation will be two fundamental elements in your re-sit journey. Before you embark on this adventure, ensure to remind yourself of why you are doing this. Whether it be a university of your dreams or a course you are passionate about, it may be helpful to have printouts of motivational images near your desk to remind you of the ‘end game’. 

You can be reassured that lots of students go through this every year, you are not alone! It happens every year, and while you can’t change the past it’s great that you are taking control of your future. Good luck! 



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