Results Week and Clearing 2022

TOP INSIGHTS FOR THE EDUCATION SECTOR (Tue 9 - Thu 25 AUGUST)

Understand the key events from Results Week and the impact they are having on students.(View comparative 2020 and 2021 insights).

CLEARING OFFERS


SQA Results Day

(Tuesday 9th August)


Near-record numbers of Scottish applicants placed in firm choice


On the morning of SQA Results Day, UCAS reported 60% of Scottish students (30,490) had already gained a place at their firm choice university (higher than 2019 levels at 57.5%, and UCAS predicted the 2022 figure would increase further). Only 2021 had higher numbers of students being placed.


More females than males are going on to HE, but the gender gap is closing:


2019
50% more females

2021
47% more females

2022
39% more females


Participation from disadvantaged areas was also above pre-pandemic levels.


Scottish students came onsite to congratulate each other, share their results and seek advice (e.g. grade boundaries, what to do if they haven't been accepted yet and what their university options are having received their grades). Discussion threads like this show how pressure from parents can hit students hard in Results Week.




The weekend before A-level, BTEC and T-Level Results Day

(Published Tue 16 August; Data: Fri 12th - Sun 14th August)


(At the time data was collected: 166 poll responses)

Students not confident they will secure their firm choice university


Ofqual, has said: "As we return to summer exams, in 2022 exam boards will set the grade boundaries based on a profile that reflects a midpoint between 2021 and pre-pandemic grading." Ofqual and UCAS have released a joint letter to students aiming to increase students' confidence about getting a university place.


In June, 48% of students we polled thought they had missed the grades for their university offer. This was taken in the middle of exams, so we wondered whether the answers were related to their feelings about how specific exams were going. We asked the same question again over the weekend, and concerningly, over 50% now think they’ve missed their grades for their firm choice university (though the percentage of those who feel they have exceeded their grades has increased by 4% to 18%):

"I feel sick"

"I'm getting so impatient now, these next few days are gonna go soooo slowly"


Expert insight, key events and onsite engagement


UCAS: There has been record demand for higher education (44% of 18-22 year olds). Clare Marchant (Head of UCAS) was positive that the majority of students would get placed at their firm choice and praised "conservative and responsible" offer-making by universities so far. UCAS found 40% of students intend on using Clearing (which reflects what we are finding on The Student Room). Based on what we are seeing in Scotland since SQA Results Day, UCAS predict a "very active" Clearing. Although disadvantaged students are being well-supported this year (offer rate falling less than for more advantaged students), the cost of living crisis is an immediate concern for students.


WonkHE: (Read full SQA summary here) Growth in grades for those taking Higher or Advanced Higher qualifications in Scotland, compared with 2019:

  • Grade A: +7.6% (women) and +5.6% (men)
  • Grades A-C: +4.2%

Activity on The Student Room: Over the weekend, our top search terms were "ucat", "results day", "a level results" and "clearing". We saw year-on-year growth in article pageviews for General Results (+109%) and our A-level Hub (+17%).  Guide to A-level Results Day 2022, was the most viewed article on our site, followed by six other articles about exam results, Clearing and A-levels. Our top thread by pageviews was this A level/AS 2022 Results Day Countdown - a poll on this thread revealed that 24% of students are feeling nervous and 19% are feeling scared.



(At the time data was collected: 149 poll responses)


Media articles (e.g. The Times, Telegraph, Independent, Guardian) are unsettling students - especially as these are the first exams in three years:

"I am so worried also. Just read an article (Guardian) that stated "up to 60,000 students applying to university could be at risk of losing their preferred place."

How students are feeling and what they plan to do next

For students who miss their grades, Clearing is their top choice. Last week, 42% of students told us they expected to use Clearing this year, and the top reason was that they thought they would miss their offer.


There was also lots of chatter onsite about students being upset with Cambridge International results - which is making A-level students more nervous about their own grades.


Overall, our student sentiment score (which tracks how students are feeling based on post content) was up 12% year-on-year - 4.7 compared with 4.2 for the pre-results weekend in 2021. The top factor impacting students' mental health this summer is social worries, followed by uncertainty about career prospects. Universities should consider the impact of lockdowns on applicants' ability to make friends and overcome loneliness. For students placed through Clearing, even more support may be needed to foster a sense of belonging, since they might not have seen the campus, expected to study their course, or had time to prepare emotionally for being part of that university.




The day before/morning of A-level, BTEC and T-Level Results Day

(Published Thur 18th August; Data: Weds 17th - Thur 18th August)


Results Day - how students are feeling


The day before Results Day the student sentiment score on site rose again to 5.8 (4.9 over the weekend), showing a move towards slightly more positive conversations as Results Day approached. Most conversations about results this week have been in our busy Results countdown thread, but we also saw activity in other areas of the site, including a popular more light-hearted thread of Where to get free food on A-level (and others) results day. Students have already been celebrating and sharing their results this morning on threads like this ‘I got into university!’ celebration thread.


Initial conversations this morning see a mix of celebration and anxiety:

"I'm so happy i got into my first choice and I've wanted to go there since y11!!! so happy, I cant stop smiling"


"I got into my firm!! I can't believe that I've actually done it!!"


"I didn’t get into my first choice. I never get lower than an A in mocks for AQA biology and apparently I got a B. I got a B in everything. I was predicted A*A*A so ****ed. Gonna appeal"


"I got the grades I wanted! However my UCAS has only updated my insurance, not my firm, when should I start to worry?"


Site activity and Clearing in the lead up to results


20,360 students found out today they don’t have a place on a course (down from 24,260 in 2019). A broader range of Clearing-related conversations are popping up onsite e.g. what happened to my grades, application is under review and  Medicine UCAS Clearing for 2022


The most popular article yesterday (17th August) in page views was "University phone numbers and contact details for Ucas Clearing 2022" and the three most popular forums (based on posts and pageviews) were: A-levels, Medicine, Applications, Clearing and UCAS.


When we asked our community in a recent on site poll “How did The Student Room help you with your uni application”, the top response was talking to peers going through the same thing (34%) followed by talking to current university students (18%). The next few days this will be ever more pivotal and our staff, Clearing and Applications Advisors and University Official Reps are doing a great job at talking through the options available to students and giving them the 121 reassurance and praise they need on-site on this important day.





Results Day Grades

(Published Thursday 18th August)


A-Level outcomes on Results Day


Two-thirds of students who applied to UK higher education have gained a place at their firm or insurance choice (425,830). The second highest number on record and a 19% increase compared to 2019 when the last examinations were held.

Comparing to 2019 (rather than 2021 when there was a different method of assessment):
A* increased from 7.7% to 14.6%

A*-A increased from 25.4% to 36.4%
A*-E increased from 97.6% to 98.4%


Females outcomes are higher than males at all grades in 2022

Female
14.8% A*          37.4% A*-A          98.7 A*-E
Male
14.4% A*          35.2% A*-A          98.1% A*-E


This year has also seen the first award of the first three T-Levels. The overall pass rate for these learners is 92.2%




Results Day

(Published Fri 19th August; Data: Thur 18th August)



307,187 words were written across multiple forums and threads as students explored their options and spoke to peers and advisers about their results with our key Applications, Clearing and Ucas forum receiving 1060 posts (up 43% from 2021).


Results Day - how students are feeling


Community activity was mainly positive for Results Day with a lot of students getting their firm choice and celebrating. Our team have, however, seen some errors with papers and vocational grade submissions which we are working to support students with resolving.


On Thursday the student sentiment score showed a positive rise to 6.7 (up from 5.8 on Wednesday) showing increased confidence as grades were finally received and our education forums were booming with more than 773,00 pageviews throughout the day (a rise of 17% compared to Results Day 2021). 


The most recent conversations in the Applications, Clearing and UCAS forum on the morning of the 19th are showing how much support students are still needing. For those who didn’t receive the results they were hoping for yesterday, this is an important and challenging time for them to readjust their expectations and learn about the alternate options available to them. This was also seen in traffic to our Apprenticeships and alternative to university forum yesterday, which had a rise of 26% on pageviews yoy, as many students explored other potential pathways. This has been an ongoing trend over the summer, with the cost of living crisis prompting exploration into alternative pathways in addition to Results Day outcomes.



Popular content


The top thread throughout the day on The Student Room was Medicine UCAS Clearing for 2022 entry, aligning with Google search demand seen around the topic of medicine clearing. This was followed by the threads A level 2022 Results Countdown, Free food on results day and Post Your A-Level Results Here!



We also saw high engagement on The Uni Guide with pageviews up 44% YoY, resulting in a 65% increase in university lead generation buttons clicked compared to Results Day 2021. 




Supporting students


According to our poll, 40% of students on The Student Room received results better than they expected, while around the same amount (36%) received lower results than they had anticipated. A further 25% received the results they had hoped for. 


The TSR team, Clearing and Applications Advisors and University Official Reps have and continue to work tirelessly to support students with their queries and uncertainties as well as cheer on the successes and give much needed encouragement. 


Just received A Level Physics (AQA) and sadly 1 mark off for the grade needed for my firm. Spoke to the university and they won't consider it unless the grade goes up. So I sent it for priority remarking. How soon would I get it back and what are the chances of getting that one extra mark?


My college has messed up what course they submitted my grades for, I did a one-year 90-Credit BTEC Level 3 diploma in public services which if you review the Pearson grading scheme, should end in a double grade. However, they submitted my grades for the Level 3 EXTENDED public services diploma, year one. I don't know what to do, not only do I have to get the college to see they have confused up my course in the UCAS process and final grades submitting, but even after that Pearson will have to re-review the grades and give me a double grade. I don't know what to do, all within two weeks. I'm pretty sure university is not happening for me anymore.  


We did see a number of instances with students missing their grades, but being accepted into their universities anyway: I received an email from UCAS congratulating me on getting in to my chosen course, and when I checked my track it said congratulations your place is confirmed...But when I checked my results I haven't got the grades. I received EEE, but I needed BBC. Is this a mistake? I'm so confused. Also my results were emailed, as I'm on holiday I don't understand what is happening.    


We saw a few instances of students being kept waiting for their offer to be confirmed by the university despite achieving their grades Hi I got in ! But I’m still a bit wary because I got two emails from ucas saying I got in and then another one saying my college is still deciding. But ucas still says my place is confirmed on ucas.




Search trends and activity on Results Day

Demand for keywords: Searches around A-level keywords and topics kicked off from as early as 6am on Thursday and peaked at 8am with initial terms including ‘how do I get my a level results’, ‘a level resits 2022’ and ‘how to check a level results online’. Clearing searches started to pick up in the evening of the 17th August and then peaked around 9am on Results Day. As seen in most previous years, medicine was by far the most popular search term related to clearing courses. 


Search terms and socials: #AlevelResultsDay2022 was the stand-out Twitter trend throughout the day with other popular hashtags and topics including #ExamResults2022, #GoodLuck, University, UCAS and of course, Jeremy Clarkson.


Across 1,200 keywords that we track related to clearing and A-level results we saw an average Google ranking position of 4.88 for The Student Room website in the lead up to results day. Our nearest competitors averaged 4.99 and 6.05 for those same terms.


Trending terms on Results Day itself saw a lot of searches in Google for advice around A-level remarks, what is a pass at A-level, how to appeal results, how to understand A-level results, A-level grade boundaries and average A-level grades. Clearing searches on Results Day continued to be heavily weighted towards specific university searches, but we did see students looking for ways to calculate UCAS points, how to add clearing choices on UCAS, how to accept a clearing offer, UCAS helpline, can you add more than one clearing choice on UCAS, how long does clearing take as well as searches for university rankings and student finance.


Some trending searches around BTEC over the day, included: what does pa mean in BTEC results, what does d1 mean in BTEC results and what is BTEC equivalent to. Some of the biggest apprenticeship topics over the day were degree apprenticeships, gov apprenticeships, engineering apprenticeships, NHS apprenticeships and business, law and nursing apprenticeships.




A-Level Google Search Trends

Clearing Google Search Trends




Key takeaways from Results Week 2022

Insights so far:
A higher proportion of SQA students were accepted by their firm choice this year
At the start of A-level Results Week, over 50% of students thought they would miss the grades they need for their firm choice
On Monday, our poll showed most students were feeling nervous, scared or sick
Gloomy media stories predicting that students will not be placed are unhelpful and worrying applicants
40% of students expect to use Clearing this year (Source: UCAS and The Student Room)
Clearing students need extra support to overcome social worries (making friends, loneliness)

425,830 18 year olds have gained a place at their firm or insurance choice - an increase of 19% compared to 2019 (the last year examinations were held).

20,360 students found out they don’t have a place on a course (down from 24,260 in 2019)

Speak to our team about these insights, Clearing, or student recruitment

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