Friday, 7 August 2015

Three situations you could find yourself in when you get your GCSE results

Nick Hynes, Exam Results Helpline Careers Adviser, talks you through what could happen on exam results day and how you can prepare yourself.

You got all the grades you hoped for, you already have a definite plan, and it's all systems go

Well congratulations, you! Before you sign on the dotted line, though, do check that those A levels/that particular apprenticeship/the college course you're intending to do is pointing you in the right direction, and leaves open the right employment/university choices at the age of 18.

You got most of the grades you were hoping for, but just slipped up on 1 or 2?

Act quickly! This actually might not be a problem, but you must speak to your chosen college or sixth form as soon as possible. They might, depending on your grades, still let you do your original course choice, but ask you to do a retake in your maths or English as well for example. Alternatively, they might ask you to do an extra year, and get more grades at foundation or intermediate level before moving onto your first choice.

You are really disappointed with your grades, and can't do what you wanted?

It is not the end of the world! Just now it might feel like it, but it is not. Again, you need to act pretty quickly: get in touch with the employer/college/sixth form you were hoping to progress on to, and check what they have to say.
If after speaking to them you need more help and advice, call us at the Exam Results Helpline – 0808 100 8000.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Kori had to change her plans when she didn’t get the grades last year. Now she couldn’t be happier!

Last year Kori Gibbs from Derbyshire was all set to study Environmental Science at one of the Universities she had applied to but on results day her plans completely changed.

She is now studying at Nottingham Trent University and couldn’t be happier that a change in circumstances meant she went through Clearing to a different Uni…

A Level results day last year

Kori was preparing to study Environmental Science at university but on results day discovered that she hadn’t got the grades she was expecting and was reject
ed by all of the Universities she had applied to.

“I was so disappointed when I picked up my exam results and I really didn’t know what I was going to do next.”

Next steps

Kori got straight onto the UCAS website and found a space through Clearing on the Environmental Science course at Nottingham Trent University. As she had achieved more points than they were requiring she was accepted.

“I completed my first year at Nottingham Trent with a successful 2.1 and I am really enjoying the subject. I have settled in at University really well and am really glad that I achieved a place on the course even though I went through clearing.”

“In the future I am hoping to do a year placement or carry on to do a masters in Sustainability”.

Kori’s advice to students getting their results this year:

“Be confident that you can achieve what you want to achieve and see clearing as an opportunity to find a better suited University or Course for yourself. Take the advice from the Exam Results Helpline and the UCAS website and make sure you have a lot of fun! University is a great stage in life to find yourself and long lasting friends.”

Luke Cutforth supports Exam Results Helpline

The Exam Results Helpline met YouTube sensation Luke Cutforth from Lukeisnotsexy fame to talk about how he got on in his exams, how quitting Uni led to his ultimate goal of making films and why he will always have the ultimate respect for his University of Gloucestershire lecturers…

How did you find doing your exams?
Remembering that stage in my life is quite a hard thing for me to do as I found exams unnecessarily stressful and got frustrated as they are a limited viewpoint into how intelligent somebody actually is.

Across the board I generally did better in work where I was given time to consider, write well, research and work in stress free environments. The bulk of my better work was in coursework. I enjoyed that side of learning much more and even managed to get 100% on several English Literature essays.

When I got my results I was disappointed as I was predicted higher grades in a couple of subjects and fell short.

How did you cope with exam stress?
I coped very badly indeed. I was quite unhappy during some of my time working up to exams and was convinced that if I messed them up that was pretty much the end of my life. I had to pay a lot of my own money out to try and get a personal tutor for some of them just to get me through some of the tougher ones.

What did you do after your A Levels?
I decided to go to the University of Gloucestershire to do the Film Production course as it seemed very practical but with a focus on the theory as well. It was the theory side of things I was really looking to develop as I had taught myself a fair amount of the practical already.

I had a lot of respect for the course leader at the uni as she appreciated my abilities on YouTube and took that into account when she gave me an unconditional offer to study at the university.

To me this was proof that the uni didn’t shy away from new media forms that were emerging and that they understood that they too require a fair amount of skill.

What made you want to go to uni?
It’s such a big decision and at the time I have to say that I felt pressured to go to uni. I felt like it was either that or settle for a second rate job and lower life goals. I know this was wrong now and that many successful people choose not to go to university.

I also felt that there was no advice available from anyone who would even discuss my specific, unusual circumstance of having created content weekly for hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube. Most people brushed my videos off as unimportant or it was laughed it. And of course, this ended up becoming the reason I could make myself a career without university so I felt that that viewpoint was limited.

I don't feel like I made the wrong choice by going to uni though. I learned a lot in the year about how to learn, the importance of theory, how to survive in the real world, and I met several people who I would go on to work with a lot in the following years. So it was a valuable year of study, even if I eventually decided not to continue.

How did you feel when you made the final and daunting decision to quit Uni altogether?
The idea of quitting uni scared me. For as long as I could remember I'd been in some form of education. The day I quit I was thrown into the real world of harsh realities and was the last day I’d ever spend in full time education.

University had taught me a lot but I knew I wouldn't be happy there. I didn't feel like my specific abilities fit in well with a university system mainly focused on making sure you get a job. It caters to the idea that you need to be employed by somebody else rather than forge your own path, your own way in the world and try to change the world you aim to work in.

Because of my early success on YouTube and the limited time I had available in the day it felt like I had to make the choice of what to focus on and what would allow me to reach a greater height. YouTube made me stand out as something unique so that's why I chose it over university. Since leaving, I've been happier and doing more work towards my life goals than ever.

That's not to say that the University of Gloucestershire course is bad, it most certainly isn't. I learned a lot about film and the lecturers were very supportive of my decision to leave and I have a lot of respect for them for that. The course leader also told me I was welcome back to the course if I ever wanted to which was a lovely thing for her to do.

What’s next for you?
Well I am still dedicated to fans of my YouTube channels and I really enjoy creating content for them to enjoy and think about.

I am also involved in a massively exciting project with a friend I met at the University of Gloucestershire to produce a film that is an adaptation of a book. I’m hoping that this will be my ‘leg up’ into the film world and I’m so excited to be living the dream as a film producer!

We will be launching a Kickstarter Appeal in August to fund the making of the film and the idea of a community contributing to, and becoming a part of, the process is exciting and enables us to have the freedom to tell the story in the way it is supposed to be told.

What piece of advice would he give to students doing exams now? 
Definitely work hard. I can't express how much I'd recommend that. Education is so important.

Even if grades are not important in the line of work you aspire to, the process of learning and working hard makes you a much more rounded, intelligent and grateful person.

But I'd also say that if you have something that makes you stand out from the crowd don't let anybody try and quash it. Embrace it, make it work for you and use it to further yourself. This applies most in the world of creativity and maybe less so in academic based subjects which can be assessed objectively such as maths and the sciences.

If your dreamed line of work is one of creativity the worst thing you could do would be not to embrace your irregularities.

The Exam Results Helpline is a really great service that I wish I'd known about 3 years ago. Maybe it would have sent me down a different path, one more streamlined towards my eventual goals.

Not getting the grades you expected can be terrifying in a world that drives all its focus on test based success. There are so many other routes to many of your dreams so seek advice, work hard and never become just another worker. Embrace who you are.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

See for yourself how the Exam Results Helpline has made a difference

We spoke to some past students that found themselves in these situations after exam results day.

Got the grades but no offers
Tanya found herself in a position she didn’t expect when she got the grades she needed to study Medicine but no offers from any Universities. After speaking to one of our advisers she decided to take a gap year to gain some work experience.

See Tanya’s story here:

Don’t panic and considering Clearing
Ollie didn’t get the grades he was expecting and panicked until he spoke to one of our advisers who talked him through the options and guided him through the Clearing process:

See Ollie’s story here:

Change of heart
Tryfan got the grades to study Drama but decided he wanted to change his course to Music. Our expert Careers Adviser talked him through how to use Clearing to apply for a different course:

See Tryfan’s story here:

Different direction
Rohan didn’t get the grades he needed to study Medicine and was really disappointed so he called the Exam Results Helpline. After discussing all of his options, Rohan decided to take a different route and study Engineering.

See Rohan’s story here:

Top 10 Tips for Parents on Results Day

Exam Results Helpline Careers Adviser John Carberry gives his top 10 tips for parents on how they can help their teenagers on A Level results day:

1.      Be prepared for plan B:  Before results day itself encourage your teenager  to start  thinking  about other courses and/or universities that they would be prepared to consider in Clearing, it could help them get a head start once they get their results. 

2.      Keep Calm and Don’t Panic: We take calls from students who are panicking that they haven’t got the results they need and the first thing we tell them is to try to stay calm. This goes for parents too! If you can try not panic, it will really help your teenager. If at all possible encourage them to take a deep breath and keep a clear head as it will be much easier to think through their next steps if they are thinking clearly.

3.      Remember to Reassure: Try to remain positive, whatever the results. Your child may need reassurance from you that everything will work out and it will all be OK.

4.      Time is on your side: There is no rush to make any quick decisions if you are thinking about a course in Clearing. Choosing a University can be difficult but when students go through Clearing and often haven’t even visited the University, it’s an even bigger decision to make. Clearing doesn’t open until the afternoon and so this gives your child time to reassess and have a good think about what they want to do before they start the process.

5.      Make sure you’ve got fuel: If it is possible to visit the university offering a Clearing place before committing to it that can be really helpful so parents should be prepared to do some driving at fairly short notice or fund a few unexpected train journeys!

6.      Learn about Adjustment: Getting better grades than expected is obviously a great situation to be in but it can pose a dilemma for your child about whether to stick with their original choice or to use Adjustment to choose a different course or University that was previously unavailable to them. It’s worth having an understanding of the Adjustment process and you can find more information here.

7.      Open your mind about a gap year: Taking a gap year can be an effective way for your child to take time to think about all of their options. Used constructively, gap years can look good on a CV and can provide an opportunity to gain some work experience, making applicants more of a valuable contender for university or for the work place.

8.      Consider earning whilst learning: If your teenager knows what they want to do career-wise then this could be a good option for them. It also gives them the opportunity to earn while they learn.

9.       Remember Re-takes: If your son or daughter thinks that they could have got a better grade in specific subjects or modules, then it might be possible to re-sit the exam and reapply for university next year. Your child will need to speak with their school about this ASAP. Be prepared that occasionally some universities look for higher grades from re-sit students so they may need to check specific Universities views on re-sit candidates.

10.  Pick up the phone: If you want to find out more information, support or advice don’t forget that the Exam Results Helpline is here to help parents as well as the students themselves so give us a call on 0808 100 8000 or Twitter or 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Making the grade

Sarah dreamt of being a Vet and so there was a lot riding on results day but she didn’t get the grades she needed to study Veterinary Science at University. However, she still got her place at University, here’s her story…

“I looked up my results at 7am and I was in an absolute mess. All of my shortlist of Universities had rejected me apart from Liverpool and I couldn’t contact them because they weren’t open that early. I was crying for a solid hour being consoled by my parents.

Unfortunately at this stage I thought I had failed until I received an email from UCAS confirming my place at Liverpool. I couldn’t believe it and words cannot describe how I felt.”

Sarah called the Exam Results Helpline to get some advice and guidance about what to do as she was convinced it was a mistake because she knew she hadn’t received the required results to get in.

She said: “The lovely lady who answered checked and checked and checked again because I made her!  She was so friendly and congratulated me. We had a brief conversation and she made me feel totally at ease. I was in floods of tears all over again but this time they were tears of joy!”

Sarah has now completed her first year at the University of Liverpool and she is thoroughly enjoying it.

“University is everything I hoped it would be and more. After all the stress last year, I am so relieved it all worked out OK in the end. I have met loads of new people and the University is such a great place to be!”

How did speaking to a professional careers adviser at the Exam Results Helpline help Sarah?

“The helpline was open earlier than the Universities and had it not been there I would have had longer in turmoil that’s for sure!”

Sarah’s advice for students receiving unexpected exam results this year

“Don’t panic if you don't get the right grades.  I know that is easier said than done but do definitely phone the helpline.  The lady who answered my call was so patient with my demands on checking and also my broken sentences due to the tears!  She understood my situation and I felt as if she really cared.”

A Level Results Day: Don’t Panic and Prepare!

You've finished your A levels, school's out, and all you can do now is countdown to results day on 13th August, right?  Wrong!

Nick Hynes, Exam Results Helpline adviser, suggests your plan of action for the weeks between now and the dreaded day...

The biggest tip - which is equally true leading up to getting your results, and on the day itself - is DON'T PANIC: you do have time, you do have choices, and you do have access to expert advice and guidance.

Every year on the Exam Results Helpline we deal with hundreds of students' queries at this time. Each student's circumstances are of course unique, and many of the questions fall under three main headings: my exam results aren't as good as I wanted; my exam results are better than I had dared hope; or I got the grades, I have a place waiting for me, but I'm no longer sure that I want to take it up.

Imagine yourself in each of these situations: do you have a plan B for in case you don't achieve the grades required first time around?  What do you know about UCAS Clearing?  Have you researched gap years, and retakes, and other further and higher education courses such as foundation degrees and BTEC qualifications?

Some decisions need making in the hours after your results are out - some research here could give you a decisive headstart on others in your situation. What about if you do better than everyone expected?  Happy dilemma - but it is still a dilemma!

Of course you can continue with your previous plans - you have exceeded the requirements of your offers - so would you choose to do this?  Or might you now be interested in UCAS Extra or Adjustment?  Or even a previously-unconsidered gap year, to give yourself more time to reflect on your options?

If you do better than expected it’s often a natural reaction to wonder if you should change your choice of university to one that was previously unavailable to you, in which case you would need to use Adjustment. In this situation I often advise people to reflect on the amount of time taken to decide on their university and the reasons they have chosen it. It may not be wise  suddenly to go somewhere else simply based on the higher grades that are required. If you find yourself in this position, it is something I would strongly recommend for you to talk to us about.

It’s also good to remember that if used constructively a gap year can be a great way of getting some much needed work experience to ‘test out’ your chosen career which is great to have on your CV or to simply research universities and make sure your 100% sure on your university choice.  If a university rejects you, they may reconsider if you take a year out to get some relevant experience and reapply the following year.

In all of these situations, time spent researching - perhaps starting with - and discussing your thoughts, plans and fears with your family, your teachers and your careers adviser is likely to be time well spent.

The Exam Results Helpline will be open at 08:00 on Thursday 13 August to back-up your planning with expert, impartial advice on UCAS Extra, Clearing, apprenticeships, retakes, gap years, alternatives to higher education and any other options you'd like to know more about.  Give us a call on 0808 100 8000 - and whatever you decide to do, good luck.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Made In Chelsea’s Nicola Hughes Talks Exam Results

The team at Exam Results Helpline are so happy to have the lovely Nicola Hughes from Made in Chelsea promoting the helpline this year.

Nicola has written a guest blog about what happened when she did her exams, the issue of parent pressure, how she dreams of working on films like Avatar and how terrified she felt when she got her exam results…

'I grew up in Ireland and so instead of GCSEs we did the inter cert and I was so pleased that I passed all of my subjects. I then went on to do the Leaving Certificate in Ireland which I think is equivalent to A Levels over here and I passed all of those too!

During the exam period, I found parent pressure very overwhelming. Obviously they wanted the best for me but I was already putting enough pressure on myself and to try to manage their expectations too sometimes got a bit much. I found that studying with my best friend was a good way of staying calm and not getting too worked up about it all.

I was really nervous about getting my exam results, I was terrified that I’d let my family down.  I have always been very critical of myself as well and so I was really happily surprised when I found out that I had managed to pass them all.

After finishing my Leaving Certificate I went on to study Computers and Multimedia. However, I was lucky enough that my modelling career took off and I had to take a break from studying. I’ve always been a creative person and had ambitions, and still do, to work in the world of multimedia films such as Avatar. The modelling led to other opportunities and the next thing you know I’m on Made in Chelsea!

Apart from the dream of going to Hollywood to work on films, I had no idea what I wanted to do after I had finished education – it feels like a major decision.  That’s why I think it can be good to take some time out and try to find out what you are good at and what you enjoy. I’m still very much on that journey!

In the immediate future I am hoping to do some TV Presenting work. I worked in Canada last year to gain some experience and a film crew came out with me and filmed my experiences for a series called ‘Exiles’ which is currently being aired on RTE Television in Ireland.

If I could give you guys any advice it would be to RELAX; it’s not the end of the world. Try and put in the work throughout the year and don’t leave it to the last minute. Remember it’s only one moment in your life! If you don’t do as well as you had hoped there will be many other opportunities to shine!'

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Calling all GCSE students!

Nick Hynes, Exam Results Helpline Careers Adviser, talks you through the possible situations you might find yourself on 20th August and what you can do to prepare yourself for results day.
So the guessing is over!  After 2 years of lessons, coursework, revision and exams, followed by 2 months of waiting, the results are out, and you know what you've achieved.
You may find yourself in a number of situations:

* You got all the grades you hoped for, you already have a definite plan, and it's all systems go?

Well congratulations, you!  Before you sign on the dotted line, though, do check that those A levels/that particular apprenticeship/the college course you're intending to do is pointing you in the right direction, and leaves open the right employment/university choices at the age of 18.

* You got most of the grades you were hoping for, but just slipped up on 1 or 2?

Act quickly!  This actually might not be a problem, but you must speak to your chosen college or sixth form as soon as possible.  They might, depending on your grades, still let you do your original course choice, but ask you for example alongside it to do a retake in your maths or English as well; alternatively, they might ask you to do an extra year, and get more grades at foundation or intermediate level before moving onto your first choice.

* You are really disappointed with your grades, and can't do what you wanted?

It is not the end of the world!  Just now it might feel like it, but it is not.  Again, you need to act pretty quickly: get in touch with the employer/college/sixth form you were hoping to progress on to, and check what they have to say.  If the message is negative, see below for what you need to do next.

Whichever of these categories you fall into - and even if you've been burying your head in the sand and avoiding making any big decisions for September - it is not too late to act, and there are loads of different sources of information, advice and guidance:

* Is there a Careers or Connexions office near where you live?  They are staffed by skilled and impartial advisers, and they are free for you to visit and use.

* Have you looked at the UCAS Progress and the National Careers Service sites? They contain stacks of good information on the rules about leaving school, how to make wise choices, applying for apprenticeships, the differences between studying in a college and a school sixth form, and a thousand other things besides.

* Is there somebody in your college or sixth form who can advise you?  Lots of places are open from mid-August onwards for exam results and enrolment.  They might not know you ever so well, and you don't have to agree with what they say, but it surely worth hearing what they can tell you about what they have available, and how this could help you to achieve your goals.

* Call the Exam Results Helpline – 0808 100 8000! As well as myself there are around 40 other careers advisers who will be ready to take your call from 13th August onwards to give you advice, support and guidance on all of the options available to you. We helped over 6,000 people who got their results last year by offering totally independent and impartial advice and we’ll be here to speak to you this year.

And finally...

* Have you spoken with your family?  You'd perhaps be surprised at how many of the students I work with have not!  Your mum, your dad, your older sister or brother, they might not be an expert on apprenticeships, or applying to UCAS, or knowing what maths grade you need to do your dream job...  but they might be a bit of a specialist on knowing what makes you tick, on your strengths and weaknesses, and on what might suit you best.

At the end of the day, you're moving in to the adult world, and you’re making your own adult choices; but there is a lot of information, advice and guidance out there to ensure that you help yourself to make the best choices.

Welcome to the Exam Results Helpline 2015 blog!

We’ll be bringing you all you need to know about what to do between now and getting your exam results and how to prepare for the big day.

We’ll also be posting up interviews with people who got their results in previous years and found themselves in all different situations to see what they did and will be bringing you exclusive guest posts from some people you may recognise…

So keep checking back in on here to see what’s going on and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter ( and like us on Facebook (