A/AS-level results day

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At a glance

Guidance on how to prepare for results day with your son or daughter, when and how the exam results arrive, and how to support and reassure your child if the grades are not as good as they'd expected.

How and when will my child's A/AS-level results arrive?

A and AS-level results day is Thursday August 19 2010. Exam results are sent to schools and colleges, and your son or daughter will collect an envelope containing the results from their school/college.

If your child has a university offer, it is possible to get an idea of the results from midnight on August 19. That's because the UCAS website will record any changes in status to conditional offers made by universities.

So if your son or daughter goes online at just after midnight, he or she might be able to tell whether or not the required grades have been achieved (but not the actual results).

Preparing for results day

A and AS-level results are a big deal. Even young people who don't appear nervous almost certainly are. You will be nervous too.

In many ways, A-level results are the culmination of all your child's years at school. They mark the end of childhood and the start of adult life – and are their passport to university, to college and to a career.

But remember that whatever the results, your son or daughter will have choices. It's worth getting them to talk about possible courses of action, depending on whether the results are on target, not as good as expected or better than expected.

The most frightening and unsettling thing for young people is feeling that, if they do badly, it's a total disaster. This is never the case. There are always avenues open, including resits (in which most candidates do better than they did in their original exams).

On results day - especially if your child is holding offers from colleges and universities - he or she might have to take action quickly. If, for example, the grades fall just slightly short of the ones required, your son or daughter should call the university concerned to make a case for being admitted anyway.

So, it's important to collect exam results armed with:

  • A mobile phone
  • A calculator, in case you need to double-check how marks for different modules add up
  • Results slips from AS exams (if your child is collecting A2 results)
  • Details of your child's UCAS application
  • Phone numbers for the colleges or universities that have made your child conditional offers

Your son or daughter will probably have thought about getting the news on results day. Some young people prefer to open the envelope containing their results on their own or with their parents – others like to open it with their friends.

Talk to them beforehand about what they want to do, and respect their decision. If they don't want you with them when they receive the news, make sure you are nearby, or on the end of a phone, when they are ready to share their results with you.

Reacting to the news

Good news is easy to cope with. Celebrate your child's achievements, maybe plan a family party. Make sure they know how proud you are.

If your child has done a lot better than expected, and has a university offer, he or she might want to think about trying to switch to another course or college. UCAS has a procedure called ‘adjustment' that allows students to switch.

Bad news is far more challenging, for your child and for you. Make sure your son or daughter knows that, although you're inevitably disappointed, you still love and value him or her – it's your child you love, not his or her achievements.

Remind them that there are still plenty of choices. Make sure they talk to the teachers who will be on hand in their school or college. Offer to go in with them to do this, and make notes about the advice you're given.

Your son or daughter might be too shocked and upset to think clearly, and you may have to help him or her keep track of the options available. Resits or re-marking of papers may be a possibility – ask your child to get the relevant teacher's view on this.

If your son or daughter is applying to university, and the grades aren't good enough to meet their offers, he or she might like to go through UCAS Clearing. This means looking at places that are still vacant at universities and colleges. Your child can do this online.

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