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​Didn’t ace your A-Levels? Don’t panic! Do this… 

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 2 years ago
  • Author:by VANRATH

Didn’t ace your A-Levels? Don’t panic! Do this… 

A-Level results day is upon us. And while some will be celebrating, for some whose results are less than expected it can feel like a crushing disappointment, but there’s actually a whole host of options on the table for those who don’t get what they were hoping for. It might not be the direct route to uni that you imagined, but it could also be far better for you than you realise right now.

Some of our own team didn’t ace their A-levels the first time around, some didn’t go to uni, and they are some of the best and most experienced experts we’ve ever had! At VANRATH we have proof that A-level results will not doom your future.

Here’s a few examples of what you could do if your exams didn’t go the way you wanted.



Just because you didn’t get the marks required for your first or reserve choice university (if you applied), it doesn’t mean uni is off the cards altogether. You can register for Ucas Clearing, which allows students to see which university courses still have places. Over 17,000 students are expected to apply for clearing in 2021, so you certainly won’t be alone. It’s important to note that the majority of universities have clearing vacancies so don’t be put off by thinking you’ll only have a choice of lower-ranking institutions.


Gap year

Taking a gap year can be extremely beneficial to your personal development and by taking a step back from studies it can also help you look at your life more objectively and give you the time and space to work out what you really want to do with your education and career. Research by Mind the Gap found that every year around 230,000 18 - 25 year olds take a gap year, 60% of them said it helped them decide which subject to study at uni, and 80% felt it added to their employability.


Learn on the job

A significant number of workplaces value experience over education and by going straight into the jobs’ market, you will find yourself with at least a three year time advantage over peers who go straight to university from school or college. There are many types of careers that don’t require a degree, so it’s worth investigating the field you’re interested in, to see if there are any entry-level openings. There are many apprenticeship jobs in roles as diverse as IT and cyber security to wood machinery and digital marketing.   



A-Level students also have the option to retake exams if they didn’t get their desired grades. Some universities will even be prepared to keep their offer open for the following year. If you have a clear career path in mind, which requires taking a course at a specific university, then this may be the best option for you. Resitting doesn’t mean you have to go back to the same school or college either - you can choose where you want to re-sit, with many courses giving the option of online / home-study.


Get a professional qualification

 Recent years have seen a rise in the number of vocational courses being taken, as more traditional subjects experience a decline. The benefit of vocational education is that it prepares students for the world of work by teaching them practical on-the-job skills as opposed to just theory. There are thousands of vocational qualifications that lead into careers such as nursing, accountancy, gardening and plumbing, and employers in these fields typically prefer to recruit individuals’ with practical experience as they can ‘hit the ground running’ in the job.


Even if you haven’t gained the outcome you hoped for, don’t panic.

 As we’ve laid out here, there are a wealth of options open to you and not going straight to university, or to university at all, could actually result in you enhancing your life experience and taking a more direct route into your chosen career.


At VANRATH building career success stories is what we do. We are experts in helping you find your next step and reach your personal career goals, even when you have no idea what the next step should be.

For us, it’s more than just finding you a job you are suitable for, it’s about building a sustainable career with the right roles and the right company to fit with your unique goals and experience.

Want to read more articles like this? Be sure to visit VANRATH’s News, which features industry insights and career advice. We post regularly on our LinkedIn page too, follow us to keep up to date. If you’re seeking immediate career advice call 028 9033 0250 or e-mail