Almost half of students are considering using self-release to apply through Clearing

Student feelings about A-Level Results Day 2019

How students are feeling about A-Level Results Day 2019

Thousands of students across the UK are experiencing an array of emotions as they prepare to receive their A-Level results this week. As the UK’s largest online student community, we teamed up with TSR Insight, our market research consultancy service, to understand how Year 13 students are feeling about their results and what they anticipate to be their next steps to be.

Results Day options – 49% considering Clearing

We’ve seen Clearing acceptances rise from 43,000 in 2008 to 66,770 in 2018 and this year we’re expecting record numbers again. Richard O’Kelly, the Head of Data and Analysis at UCAS, is expecting the most competitive A-level student recruitment round to date.

The new self-release service UCAS implemented this year allows applicants to release themselves into Clearing. Previously, they had to contact their chosen university and wait to be released. We found most 2019 applicants are aware that they have more control and 49% of students are already thinking of using it.

One TSR user is undecided and planning to use Clearing to change their course:

“I think I’m regretting the course I applied to so probably will have to go through Clearing.

I was originally going to do electronic engineering because it looked interesting. But then I would need to do a foundation year because I don’t do maths or physics, a foundation year would be too difficult for me I feel. So was thinking either politics or social policy and politics.”

However, while almost half were planning (10%) or considering (39%) using the new service, more than a quarter (26%) of them said they knew nothing about the new ‘self-release’ button on UCAS.

As a result, we still expect to see lots of questions on The Student Room asking how the new feature works. That said, we’re expecting a much more positive sentiment on-site as applicants will be more empowered to make instant decisions.

58% require more information about their options

Just over a third of respondents (35%) were clear on their options if they miss the grades for their first-choice university.  The rest said they would either need to find out more information, or they didn’t know what their options were and they were feeling worried about it.

Respondents who had not received an unconditional offer were the most likely to be concerned. Whereas, understandably, those who had accepted an unconditional offer were more likely to say they weren’t worried about options if they missed their grades (24%). They were also most likely to be clear about what their options are (46%).

Unconditional offers take the pressure off

Most respondents who had accepted an unconditional offer said they planned to stick with their choice. 60% felt that receiving an unconditional offer reduced the fear of the unknown, allowing them to focus on studying. One user said:

“I feel that I have worked hard and whatever grades I come out with will reflect that effort. An unconditional offer also really takes off the pressure as I don’t have to worry about Clearing.”

However, only 15% felt less motivated to revise for their exams after receiving an unconditional offer, and fewer than a quarter of respondents (22%) who accepted an unconditional offer said it made them choose a university over the one they really wanted to go to.

Of those who had accepted an unconditional offer, only a small proportion (7%) were planning to change their choice. Of those planning to change, the reasons were: to go to a preferred university, change to a preferred course, or because they believed they could achieve higher than their predicted grades and hoped to get a place at a higher-ranked university through Clearing & Adjustment.

59% of applicants worried about Results Day 2019

Many respondents were feeling worried about Results Day (59%), in particular, this applied to those who weren’t holding an unconditional offer:

“There is so much pressure for me to do well and I am so worried that I won’t get the grades to meet my offer. I have my heart set on my firm choice uni.”

In addition, the news that some A-Level exam papers had been leaked caused additional worry for 45% of respondents:

“Took Edexcel Maths A level, which felt extremely hard compared to A levels and the cheating has made the grade boundaries very unpredictable”

“Maths exams were leaked and extremely hard, put me at a huge disadvantage compared to those who have the exams and those who took further maths, also caused me to be distracted and even more stressed for exams for my other subjects.”

We also found respondents were worried about letting themselves down (85%) and letting their parents or family down (75%). Most applicants said their family and friends had been supportive during exams and in the run-up to Results Day and they would be the ones they’d go to for support over teachers or universities.

Teachers and schools were viewed as supportive during exams but less supportive about Results Day, compared to family or friends. Perhaps this is because respondents have had little access to teachers/school since finishing their exams.

Stand out to students considering Clearing

If you want to know more about how you can leverage our data and insights to get ahead of your competitors in Clearing, check out our recruitment solutions or drop us a line and we’ll talk through how we can support filling your available courses.

Profile of respondents

  • 2,068 community members responded, 1,155 had just completed Year 13
  • 98% had most recently been studying A-Levels, 2% had most recently been studying BTEC