What if your child doesn’t get the A-level grades they hope for?

There are still many options available no matter the results.
There are still many options available no matter the results.
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The results are out today and help is on hand for parents preparing to guide their children through their exam results.

You may have spent some time already considering what to do if your son or daughter doesn’t get the results they’re expecting.

Having a well thought out ‘what if’ plan in place beforehand, covering as many eventualities as possible, will save time later.

It will also reduce the risk of making quick, badly thought out decisions that they may regret.

So what if they don’t get the grades they were expecting? The Department for Education’s Exam Results Helpline opens again on 18 August this year after supporting a record breaking 9,500 people last year.Careers advisers will be helping both students – and their parents – on next steps after they get their A-level or GCSE results.

Exam Results Helpline careers adviser Iwan Williams 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 uni that was previously to them. It’s worth having an understanding of the Adjustment process and you can find more information here: http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/undergraduate/results/better-than-expected

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 workplace.

8. Consider earning whilst learning: If your teenager knows what they want to do career-wise then an apprenticeship 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 then it might be possible to re-sit the exam and re-apply for university next year. Your child will need to speak with their school about this. 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 so give us a call on 0808 100 8000 or Twitter @ERHelp or facebook.com/examresultshelpline

The Exam Results Helpline opens at 8am on 18 August and remains open every day until 31 August so that students who have received their exam results can call in to talk through their options. Specialist careers advisers will be ready to provide guidance on a range of topics including resits, vocational courses, gap years, funding, careers and employment.

If a student is reconsidering their options based on results they have or have not achieved, they should contact the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000 from 18 August.

If a student has a specific query about their university application, they should contact the UCAS contact centre on 0871 468 0468.