A-level students get lowest number of A* and A grades in 12 YEARS with girls doing better than boys – while record levels of non-EU pupils win places at UK universities including 32% more from China
- More entries for A-level science subjects from girls than from boys for the first time this year
- Places confirmed for 408,960 people, down 1% – with 348,890 UK pupils accepted, also 1% fall
- Spanish has become the most popular foreign language, overtaking French for the first time
- Record 33,630 international students find places, with 32% rise in accepted Chinese applicants
The proportion of A-level entries awarded the top two grades higher has fallen to the lowest for more than a decade – as girls narrowly clawed back the lead from boys in A and A* results, it was revealed today.
There were more entries for A-level science subjects from girls than from boys for the first time this year – a shift which comes after a major push in recent years to encourage girls to study science and maths-based subjects.
Spanish has become the most popular foreign language, overtaking French for the first time. The data, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), covers entries from students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Around 300,000 students have been receiving their results since 6am today. In total, 25.5 per cent of UK entries were awarded an A or A* grade this summer, the lowest proportion since 2007 when it was 25.3 per cent.
Students celebrate their results by jumping in the air outside King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham today
Ella Rosenblatt (left) who achieved 2 A*s and one A, reacts with a friend at Withington Girls’ School in Manchester today
Sophie Todd (third left), Willow Major (third right) and their families celebrate their A-levels at Norwich School today
A group of teenage girls celebrate their A-level results this morning outside Roedean School in Brighton, East Sussex
(From left) Krishika Balakrishnan (2 A*s, 2 As), Ayeesha Sohail (3 A*s, 1 B) and Daveena Malhi at KEHS in Birmingham today
A* grades were introduced in 2010. Before this, the highest result was an A. Girls are slightly back in front in terms of top grades, with 25.5 per cent of entries handed at least an A, compared with 25.4 per cent of boys.
But on A* grades alone, boys performed better, with 8.2 per cent of entries getting the highest result, compared with 7.5 per cent of girls’ entries. Girls are now more likely in general to take a science A-level than boys.
Key statistics in this year’s A-level results
Here are the main figures in this year’s A-level results:
- The proportion of candidates receiving top grades is the lowest since 2007. A total of 25.5% of entrants scored either an A or A*, down on 26.4% in 2018. The equivalent figure for 2007 was 25.3%.
- 7.8% of entrants received an A*, down from 8.0% last year. This is the lowest level since 2013, when it was 7.6%.
- 75.8% received a C or above, down from 77.0% in 2018 and the lowest level since 2010.
- The overall pass rate (grades A* to E) was 97.6%, unchanged on last year. This is the lowest pass rate since 2010, when it was also 97.6%.
- Girls have reclaimed their lead over boys in the top grades. The proportion of girls who got A or higher was 25.5%, 0.1 percentage points higher than boys (25.4%). Last year boys led girls by 0.4 points (26.6% boys, 26.2% girls). Boys first took the lead in 2017, following a long period in which girls had been ahead.
- The gap between the best-performing boys and girls has fallen slightly. The proportion of boys who got A* was 8.2%, 0.7 percentage points higher than girls (7.5%).
- The most popular subject this year was maths. It was taken by 91,895 entrants, down 5.9% on 2018.
- Biology was the second most popular subject. It was taken by 69,196 entrants, up 8.4% on 2018. The third most popular subject was psychology, taken by 64,598 entrants, a rise of 8.2%.
- ICT (Information and Communications Technology) saw the biggest drop in candidates of any subject with more than 1,000 entrants. The number fell by nearly three-quarters (72.1%).
- Political studies saw the biggest jump in candidates of any subject with more than 1,000 entrants, rising by 9.8% on 2018.
- There were 801,002 A-levels awarded, down 1.3% on last year’s total and the lowest number since 2005.
For biology, chemistry and physics A-levels, there were 84,111 entries from girls this year, compared with 83,133 from boys. The change has been driven by more girls than boys taking biology and chemistry.
But boys are still significantly more likely to take physics, with more than three times as many entries than girls (30,159 compared with 8,799).
In languages, there were 8,625 entries for Spanish A-level and 8,355 for French.
French has seen a decline in recent years, while Spanish has been increasing in popularity.
The news emerged on a day when the results revealed:
- The proportion of candidates receiving top grades is at its lowest level since 2007;
- The overall pass rate (grades A* to E) was 97.6 per cent – the same as last year, and the lowest pass rate since 2010;
- The gap between the best-performing boys and girls has fallen, with 8.2 per cent of boys getting an A*, compared to 7.5 per cent of girls;
- The most popular subject this year was maths, taken by 91,895 entrants;
- Biology was the second most popular subject, followed by psychology.
- Political studies saw the biggest jump in candidates of any subject with a 9.8 per cent rise on 2018.
- There were 801,002 A-levels awarded, down 1.3 per cent on last year’s total
It was also revealed today that fewer students have been accepted on to British degree courses this year.
Some 408,960 people from the UK and overseas, have had places confirmed, down 1 per cent on the same point last year.
Among UK students alone, 348,890 applicants have been accepted – also a 1 per cent fall compared to 2018, according to the university admissions service Ucas.
A record 33,630 international students – those from outside the EU – have found places, which was driven by a 32 per cent rise in accepted applicants from China.
Sophie Todd (right) and Willow Major hug as they celebrate their A-level results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning
Students throw their A-level results into their air at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol this morning
Aaliyah Wallace (centre) celebrates 3 A*s in her A Level results at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham today
Three students laugh as they celebrate their A-level results from Roedean School in Brighton this morning
Molly Rasbash, 18, gives the thumbs-up as she opens her results at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today
And there has been a small increase in the number of EU students accepted on to UK degree courses, with 26,440 confirmed so far.
Piers Morgan praises son Bertie for three A* grades… after admitting he only achieved ABC
Piers Morgan with son Bertie
Piers Morgan today praised his son Bertie for achieving three A*s in his A-level results.
The DailyMail.com US Editor-at-Large said he was proud of his son’s ‘tremendous work ethic’.
He also thanked Wellington College in Berkshire for giving Bertie a ‘superb education’.
Morgan, 54, tweeted: ‘Congrats No3 @Bertie_Morgan11 on your 3 A*s. The apple fell in a different orchard to your old man (I only got ABC). Proud of you son, due reward for tremendous work ethic. And thanks to @WellingtonUK for giving him a superb education.’
Bertie said it was a ‘class morning’, before retweeting his father’s message and adding: ‘Speechless’.
But the number of UK 18-year-olds taking up places fell by 1 per cent to 199,370. This comes amid a 1.9 per cent drop in the population of this age group in the UK.
Dr Philip Wright, JCQ director general, said: ‘This year’s pass rates are stable across all A-levels and it is particularly encouraging to see the rise in young women being inspired to take science A-levels. For the very first time, female entries have overtaken male entries in science.’
Data released today also showed a rise in numbers of poorer teenagers securing degree places.
A record 17.3 per cent of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in England have been accepted – a rise of 0.8 percentage points on 2018.
In Wales, 15.8 per cent from the most disadvantaged backgrounds have been accepted, along with 13.2 per cent in Northern Ireland – both up on previous years.
Ahead of results day, leaked documents showed students who answered only around half of their A-level maths questions right would get an A-grade this year.
Exam boards Edexcel and OCR have had to lower grade boundaries because this year’s papers were so hard that most students could not complete large sections.
It means an A grade can be obtained with a mark of just 55 per cent with Edexcel, and 54 per cent with OCR.
To earn a C, students with Edexcel could score 34 per cent, while with OCR it would be 33 per cent.
Students (from left) Olivia Kolasinski, Joey Guan and Sinali Gunarathne celebrate their results at KEHS in Birmingham today
Benjamin Sheridan, 19, (left) and John Brown, 18, share their results at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today
Timea Lliffe (left) and Florence Bradshaw react after opening their results at Withington Girls’ School in Manchester today
William Rodliffe, 18, gets a hug from his sister Tamsyn, 15, as he shares his A-Level results with his family in Bristol today
Kristyn Thomas (left) hugs Kathryn Bond after they received their A-level results at Ffynone House School in Swansea today
Students laugh as they celebrate their A-level results from Roedean School in Brighton this morning
Molly Rasbash, 18, gets a kiss from her mother Jacky Willett outside St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today
Lara Wells (right) puts her hand over her mouth while receiving her results with her mother Emma at Norwich School today
For an A*, the grade usually demanded by medicine courses and Oxbridge, just 72 per cent is needed with both boards.
Number of A-level students accepted by UK universities drops by 1% in year
Fewer students have been accepted on to UK degree courses this year, Ucas figures show.
A total of 408,960 people, from the UK and overseas, have had places confirmed, down 1 per cent on the same point last year, according to data published by the university admissions service.
Among UK students, 348,890 applicants have been accepted, also a 1 per cent fall compared with 2018.
A record 7,960 students have found places through clearing so far this year. Of these, 3,690 went directly into clearing to secure a spot rather than applying through the main application scheme.
Clearing is an increasingly popular route for students to find a degree course, with leading universities among those offering last-minute places through the system.
While overall acceptances have fallen, a breakdown shows that record numbers of international students are snapping up places.
In total, 33,630 students from outside the EU have found places, Ucas said, driven by a 32 per cent rise from China. There has been a small increase in the number of EU students accepted, with 26,440 confirmed so far.
But the number of UK 18-year-olds taking up places has fallen by just under 1 per cent to 199,370, amid a 1.9% drop in the population of this age group in the UK.
These are believed to be the lowest boundaries for good grades ever set for the qualification – sparking criticism it ‘makes a mockery’ of the system.
This is the first year all students have sat the new reformed A-level in maths, which has been made more challenging following concerns over dumbing down.
Back in 2016, before the reforms set in, students would have needed 80 per cent for an A or 60 per cent for a C with Edexcel.
The situation has been branded ‘absurd’ by Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham.
He added: ‘Reforming the maths A-level was a very good idea to bring it up to world standards and to enable universities and employers to have better information.
‘But awarding a top grade to someone who has only got half the answers right makes a mockery of the good intentions.’
Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education added: ‘This is educational fraud. It is dishonest, despicable and shameful.
‘It is also a betrayal of young people and a hoodwinking of their potential employers.
‘As a country, we cannot go on fooling ourselves about how well our kids are performing.’
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘Grade boundaries are adjusted each year to reflect the demands of the exams, so this year’s group can have confidence their results are as valid as any other year.
‘It is very encouraging to see the continuing trend of more female students taking science.
Sophie Greenwood (left), 18, and Eleanor Heaps, 18, react at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol this morning
A group of 12 students celebrate their results at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham this morning
Izzy Windle (left) and Jules Kelly celebrate after collecting their A-level results at Norwich School this morning
Bruna Miguel (right), whose A-level results have qualified her for a place at the London School of Economics, is congratulated this morning by school principal Delia Smith at the Ark Academy in Wembley, North West London
Rosie Harris (left) and Raphaelle Hoffman-Vogenheim react at Withington Girls’ School in Manchester this morning
Saida Nuur (right) and her mother open her A-level results today at Ark Academy in Wembley, North West London
Yash Shah, who is registered blind, celebrates his A-level results today at Ark Academy in Wembley, North West London
‘Hopefully this shows that traditional attitudes to subjects like these have changed and they are most certainly no longer felt to be the preserve of male students.
Birmingham school celebrates as 12 students win Oxbridge places
Pupils celebrating A-level success at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Edgbaston, Birmingham, included 12 students with the required grades for Oxbridge places.
Among those winning a place at Oxford was Aaliyah Wallace, who only looked at her results after going outside to be with her sisters, brother and parents.
Students celebrate their A Level results at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham this morning
The 18-year-old, from Kings Norton, Birmingham, achieved A* grades in French, Spanish and economics, and will study Spanish and Portuguese at Merton College, Oxford.
Thanking her family for their support during her studies, Aaliyah said: ‘They are literally everything to me. I put in as much work as I could. I am ecstatic, It’s amazing.’
Jessica Tedd, from Stourbridge, won a place at Brasenose College, Oxford, to read physics thanks to 4 straight A*s at A-level in physics, Maths, further maths and biology.
The 18-year-old, who was selected for the UK Astronomy Olympiad team earlier this year, said: ‘I felt huge relief when I saw my grades.
‘Two months is a long time to wait for results so I’m glad, obviously, that I’ve managed to get into Oxford.’
Commenting on a record set of A-level results at the school, including 35% of grades at A*, principal Ann Clark said: ‘ I am delighted with these exceptional results which are a testament to the determination, hard work and commitment of our students, together with the professionalism and dedication of the staff.’
‘We know there is room for further improvement in the system as a whole and we will be working with our members over the coming months to identify some recommendations for change.’
He added: ‘To be successful at A Level, students need access to two things; a wide range of subjects to choose from and the right level of support to help them during their study. Sixth form funding has suffered terribly since 2010, making it harder and harder for schools and colleges to provide these essentials.
‘We support the calls from across the education sector to raise the rate for 16, 17 and 18 year-old students to at least £4,760 per year.
‘There is nothing guaranteed about A Level success, but the least we can do is to guarantee each student is properly supported with sufficient funding.’
Students who took the Edexcel maths A-level earlier this summer complained that they found the exam exceptionally difficult, with thousands signing a petition to demand ‘some form of compensation’ or ‘special consideration’.
A separate petition claimed that students’ hopes of attending university have been ‘shattered’ thanks to the maths exams.
Some experts have previously said schools may be pushing more low-ability students to do maths this year because of cash incentives from the government, which would lead to a larger proportion finding it harder.
Exam boards did not publish their grade boundaries officially until today, but they sent them out early to schools.
Yesterday’s leak also showed grade boundaries in science subjects appear to be low – although the reformed versions of these exams have been sat for several years running now.
Only 59 per cent is needed for an A in physics with Edexcel, while in chemistry it is 67 per cent.
The reason for the grade boundaries being lowered is that Ofqual, the regulator, is obliged to make sure pupils are not ‘disadvantaged’ in comparison with those in previous years who sat easier exams.
So they make sure exam boards set their grade boundaries after all the marks come in, to ensure roughly the same proportions get each grade as in previous years.
Jessica Tedd, who was awarded 4 A*s and is going to study Physics at Oxford, celebrates at KEHS in Birmingham today
Huda Hathaf smiles while on the phone after receiving her A-level results at Ffynone House School in Swansea today
(Left to right) Hannah Dobson, Emily Rash and Sophie Todd celebrate after collecting their results at Norwich School today
Dancer Aishani Ghosh, 18, who is going to the London Contemporary Dance School, celebrates at KEHS in Birmingham today
Aaliyah Wallace celebrates at KEHS in Birmingham today. She is going to study modern languages at Oxford University
Sara Arybou (left) and Heba Mushattat celebrate their A Level results today at Ark Academy in Wembley, North West London
An OCR spokesman said grade boundaries are only published on results day to ‘minimise the chance of students feeling anxious’.
Thousands could be in line for better maths results after exam boards lowered A grade to 55% (because last year’s papers were too hard)
Thousands of pupils receiving their A-level results today may get an A in maths for answering only just over half the questions correctly.
Exam boards Edexcel and OCR have had to lower grade boundaries because this year’s papers were too hard, leaked documents show.
It means an A can be obtained for a mark of 55 per cent with Edexcel and 54 per cent with OCR. To earn a C, candidates could score 34 per cent with Edexcel or 33 per cent with OCR.
For an A*, the grade usually demanded by medicine courses and Oxbridge, 72 per cent is needed with both boards. These are believed to be the lowest boundaries ever, sparking criticism that it ‘makes a mockery’ of the system.
In 2016, pupils would have needed 80 per cent for an A or 60 per cent for a C with Edexcel.
This is the first year all pupils have sat the new reformed A-level in maths, which has been made more challenging following concerns over dumbing down.
‘We are very grateful to the vast majority of exams officers and teachers who support this staggered approach,’ they added.
An Edexcel spokesman said: ‘Our systems are working as they should and the information was shared today via a password protected, secure website.
‘Boards do ask schools not to share this widely to avoid unnecessary stress for students awaiting their results.
‘Schools are trusted to treat the info confidentially on behalf of their students and the vast majority do.’
A Press Association survey shows that as of yesterday afternoon, 103 universities in England alone had availability showing for at least 50 per cent of their courses for potential students living in England.
The survey also shows that in total, across all English universities, there were around 21,660 courses with places available.
Other students may be eschewing university for a different route into the workplace.
Kirstie Donnelly managing director at City & Guilds Group said: ‘For too long now, technical and vocational education routes have been cast into the shadows, with young people across the UK shepherded down the traditional pathway through GCSEs, A-levels and on to university.
‘While these qualifications may be the right path for many, they should not be seen as the only option to gain a successful career.
‘At a time when the UK is plagued with growing skills gaps, it’s never been more important for our young people to harness the full range of different routes into employment available to them.’
In Northern Ireland, the proportion of students receiving the top grade at A-level has increased slightly. Those awarded an A* rose 0.6 percentage points from last year, and almost a tenth received the top grade.
(Left to right) Hannah Dobson, Sophie Todd, Steven Denby, Harry Peachment celebrate at Norwich School this morning
Nadine Alosert (right) embraces a friend after receiving her results today at Ark Academy in Wembley, North West London
Cerys Hughes smiles while on the phone after receiving her A-level results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning
Mia Serracino Inglott, a student from Manchester High School, reacts after receiving her A-level results this morning. She Mia achieved 2 A* and 2 As and will be going to study at the Royal Academy of Music as a mezzo soprano
Saida Nurr celebrates her A-level results this morning at Ark Academy in Wembley, North West London
The rise was mainly driven by better performance from girls. Entries for A-levels in Northern Ireland decreased by 2.3 per cent, broadly in line with the drop in the size of the school age population.
How teenagers believe it’s not what you know… but who you know
Teenagers are now more likely to think getting on in life is about who you know, rather than what you know, a new study shows.
A poll of 11 to 16-year-olds by the Sutton Trust found 75 per cent said ‘knowing the right people’ is important – while only 65 per cent chose ‘going to university’.
This is a huge change from similar poll in 2013, when 86 per cent cited university – and suggests young people’s disillusion with higher education may be growing.
Over the same period, the proportion who feel that going to university is not important has risen from 11 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent in 2019.
Maths was the most popular A-level, with one in ten studying the subject. Participation in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and languages (French, German, Irish and Spanish) declined slightly, by half a percentage point or less.
The proportion of girls taking Stem subjects rose slightly. Justin Edwards, chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland, said pupils had performed well.
He added: ‘The proportion of students taking Stem subjects and languages has decreased slightly, however Stem subjects continue to account for over one-third of A-level entries in Northern Ireland.’
Around 28,000 students received A-level and AS-level results. Many learned them online but others attended their schools.
Maths was the most popular A-level subject for boys and biology for girls. Business studies was in the top five for both genders.
A total of 8.8 per cent of entries received an A* overall. Girls outperformed boys at A* by 0.9 percentage points and by 3.2 points at grade A. Overall, the school population declined by 2.6 per cent at A-level.
‘Fully FAILED my exams… but STILL off to uni’: A-level students share joy and misery on Twitter as they get results today
More than 300,000 sixth-formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland took to Twitter share their joy and excitement after receiving their open their long-awaited A-level results.
Many students took to Twitter to share their relief of getting into their chosen university and courses when they received their results with a series of tongue-in-cheek memes.
Some included ecstatic football coaches during matches, Spider Man actor Tobey Maguire and Paris Saint Germain footballer Kylian Mbappé.
While others simply tweeted their excitement at getting into their chosen universities and courses.
Earlier in the morning many anxious students shared scenes from TV shows The Office and The Simpsons as they waited until 8am to open results – but some found out they had got in as early as 6am.
Last year, 26.4 per cent of UK entries were awarded an A or A* grade, the highest proportion for six years. Meanwhile, one in 12 (8 per cent) entries scored an A*.
Grade boundaries for Edexcel’s maths A-level show students who gained 165 out of a possible maximum of 300 marks (55 per cent) will be awarded an A.
How NOT to have a meltdown on A-Level results day: Careers experts reveals a six-point plan for parents if teens don’t get the grades they wanted
After all the hard work and exams A-Level results day is here – but what should you do if your teenager doesn’t get the results they were expecting?
Edd Williams, a careers consultant and author, from Manchester, reveals it’s not the end of the world, but you need to be prepared and help them move forward in a positive and productive way .
He also says its important not to panic or talk down to them – even if you’re annoyed by a less than stellar performance. By looking at all the other options and knowing how clearing works, you’ll be in the best position to help them get the best out of a difficult situation.
Here Edd, reveals to Femail how to get through results day without you both going into meltdown…
A careers expert revealed what should you do if your teenager doesn’t get the results they were expecting (stock image)
This is easier said than done but clear heads make better decisions. What you’re likely feeling if things haven’t gone their way is that the rug has been pulled out from under you, that everything you thought their futures held may not now come to pass.
That’s natural, but you need to take a deep breath and try and navigate this next stage very strategically. Their first port of call is to get on to their chosen universities, – if they’ve missed the grades by a couple of points it is by no means a done deal that they’re out – universities typically offer many more places than they have.
Depending on the uptake there may well still be a home for them, just ensure they have the phone numbers to hand and get on to them quickly, with more than just a sob story, they need to let the course leaders know they’re serious and committed about the course and the university.
With a 7 percent drop out rate, universities need to be convinced they’ll stick around – so if they can make a case that they’re worth the risk it’s a call worth making.
Edd Williams, a careers consultant and author shares his top tips
Have a back up plan
Just because you’ve assumed that your teenager was university-bound it doesn’t mean that’s the only route available. A year out doing work experience, travelling, volunteering or doing additional study may also give them the breathing space needed to really consider their new set of circumstances and what to do next.
With an increasingly competitive job market and grade inflation on the rise in universities many employers struggle to identify the stand out applicants.
By having a year’s worth of either practical experience or a demonstrable and long standing commitment to a field they can speak more knowledgeably to a potential employer, or in their next UCAS application – both of which may make them a more appealing prospect.
Taking a year out shouldn’t be a free pass to loaf around getting your feet, but if used productively can actually be a huge force for good.
Don’t rush into the wrong course
As tempting as it may be just to get something, anything, sorted the cost of university nowadays should act as sufficient deterrent against rushing to judgement.
Yes, Clearing can be like a Black Friday sale and you do need to act quickly – but try to take a moment to discuss what courses are available through Clearing and make sure your child is clear about what impact it may have on their future options.
It could be that a similar course is available elsewhere, which becomes an easier decision. However, not all universities are created equally and the teaching, student experience and cachet can vary dramatically, even if the courses have the same name, so take a moment to examine their offerings as thoroughly as possible within the limited time frames.
Equally, if they have done much better than expected and courses that previously seemed out of reach for them are now within grasp, they are under no obligation to accept the offers if they feel a better university may now be interested in them via Clearing.
What other options do they have?
If they can’t get into a course they want but don’t want to wait a year until they can try again other options are available.
Companies who are prepared to pay for students to study alongside real world, on the job training. If a company likes the look of an applicant and is happy with their A Levels they will not just fund their studies but also afford them a real opportunity at being first in line for a job post graduation.
No longer a dirty word, apprenticeships have gained real ground in the last few years and have become as competitive as universities in many cases.
The advantage is that their intake often doesn’t subscribe to the conventional academic timetable meaning places open up throughout the year. If your teen’s grades aren’t what they expected they may still be in with a good shot of getting an Intermediate or Higher Apprenticeship.
Some of the biggest graduate employers in the UK are offering them now with the likes of Bentley, Rolls Royce, Barclays, Visa, PwC, Deloitte and many others. They provide training and actually pay for your teen to be there.
A Higher Apprenticeship is now recognised as being on par with a degree but with considerably more real world experience which is very attractive for employers, with over three quarters of graduates getting a either a First or a 2:1 it’s increasingly hard for them to gauge how good someone actually is, on the job training can help cut through that.
Information is key
It may be worth looking at a related course with lower entrance requirements than their first choice university and then aim to change courses once there or after the first year.
Given the drop out rate, places can quickly become available once the semester has started, although this does naturally carry some risk should it not be possible, so ensure they would be happy to pursue the degree for three years should that option not be available to them.
Once they have some target courses and unis identified, they need to quickly identify areas of interest in the university and the course, whether it’s about the content of the course, the lecturers, employability stats, student satisfaction etc. When they speak to the university, they want to be wooed a little. Someone who doesn’t appear to know or care much about what they have to offer will be much less appealing.
A few well judged questions about certain aspects of the course, open days etc can demonstrate interest and engagement. Those few minutes spent composing their thoughts will ensure they give a better account of themselves on the phone and won’t come across as desperate which is not terribly flattering.
Recognise that as much as you will be worried, stressed, anxious and maybe even a little annoyed with your teenager – they will be feeling all of this and more and will turn to you for advice, even if you’re no better prepared or knowledgeable than they are.
Recriminations and insensitive jokes can wait for another day, now is about trying to work as quickly as possible to deliver the best possible outcome from a situation that everyone would prefer not to have happened.
Try not to let emotion overwhelm you whilst you’re helping them through this stage. Their schools and colleges will likely have advisors on hand to talk through options and let you know stuff that you might otherwise overlook, you may not take the advice but the more knowledge you have the better chance you have of navigating the situation effectively.
Try not to let emotion overwhelm you whilst you’re helping them through this stage, says Edd Williams, a careers consultant (stock image)
Don’t take the first option
Even if they are offered a place over the phone try to look at clearing as being just like the original application process, get a few offers if possible and then let your child make a decision based on what is best not just what is available.
It may be that none of them quite feel right and a gap year where they can either resit or take an additional A level may be a better option.
It’s an expensive mistake for them to make when they take up a place they are luke warm about simply to stay on track with their previous plan, whether they drop out or see it through if it doesn’t help service their future it’s not worth their time or money.
Plans change and outcomes are often better for it. Once they have offers secured most courses will give them a day or two to weigh them up, allowing them and you to rationally discuss them without the pressure of having to secure something quickly.
Edd Williams is the careers and academic consultant behind Edducan.com and the author of ‘Is your school lying to you? Get the career you want. Get the life you deserve.’
How to stay mindful during a stressful results day
Dr. Megan Jones Bell, Chief Science Officer at Headspace, believes mindfulness is a great tool to help young people ground themselves and manage stress associated with anticipation. Here she reveals her top mindfulness tips:
Manage your own stressors
It’s easy to let your own worries get the better of you; however, it is important to manage this as teenagers are quick to notice heightened stress levels.
Feelings of added pressure upon seeing your stress, or fear of judgment will also deter them from asking for help or support.
By ensuring that you’re taking a positive approach to results day, you’re setting a good example for them to follow whilst ensuring you’re available to listen to them if they have any concerns.
Dr. Megan Jones Bell from Headspace, talks about mindfulness
Share your own experiences, obstacles and how you overcame them. This will help to reassure them that their grades are not a measure of their worth as a person or their potential in life.
Adolescents and young adults in particular are vulnerable to all-or-nothing thinking meaning that they see the glass is all the way full or all the way empty, no in betweens.
Try to reinforce that test results are not the only deciding factor to their success. They are simply one data point among many others. The exact areas of the brain that meditation has been shown to increase in function and size are areas still developing in the adolescent brain.
Help them to avoid overthinking
Overthinking is a prime cause of anxiety and stress. Help ease this by encouraging them to stay in the present moment. Rather than forecasting future wins or failures help kids channel their energy into in-the-moment activities such as cooking, sports, dance or even by organising an outing to give them a change of pace and environment.
It’s healthy to think about your future, but the line can easily be blurred if this starts to become a long-term habit that saps energy and replaces excitement with negative emotions.
Make sure you encourage them to take the time to stop and take a moment to relax and enjoy the present. The simple act of focusing on your breath, following inhalations and exhalations in and out can help your kids mentally reset and combat the risk of overthinking and worry.
Give them space
As a parent you know only too well how it feels to see your kids experiencing negative emotions or challenging experiences. It’s tempting to swoop in and try to tackle the situation head on, but it is also beneficial that they learn how to understand their emotions and come to terms with how and why they are feeling them.
Jumping in with your thoughts and suggestions may build additional pressure so wait for them to come to you, as a direct approach can seem intimidating.
Allow space for your kids to experience their feelings and validate that while their reactions might seem exaggerated to you they are very real for your child.
Remember, we’ve all had times when we just wanted to vent, not problem solve. Honor that experience and help your kids get ‘unstuck’ when it seems to veer in a problematic direction.