There is life after exam results
If you have a child at school or sixth form college, youíre no doubt bracing yourselves for the arrival of this yearís GCSE and GCE (A Level and AS Level) exam results. If your childís results are not as good as might have been hoped for it can be a crushing experience for both of you, but trust usóthereís absolutely no need to panic, no matter what the grades are. Log on to our exclusive web chat and you can find out about a wealth of practical advice, for post exam students thatís guaranteed to assist them with their next steps.
Whether theyíve done badly or better than expected in their GSCEs or GCEs (A or AS levels), Tom Shooter from exam awarding organisation Edexcel will be on hand to answer all your questions about which options will suit your child best, including alternative courses of study, apprenticeships and financial assistance. Heíll speak about the online resource, examzone, that also provides advice. Log on to the chat to find out how you can best prepare for results day and beyond.
For more information visit www.examzone.co.uk
I: Vicky Letch, interviewer
T: Tom Shooter, Edexel
H: Harriet Mace, student
I: Hello and welcome to the Education Show, Iím Vicky Letch. Now then, if you have a teenager at school or sixth form college, youíre no doubt bracing yourself for the arrival of this yearís GCSE and A Level results. Maybe you are that teenager? Maybe the results are going to be what you expected, but for some of you they may not. Either way trust me, thatís absolutely no need to panic. No matter what the grades are. Iím delighted to be joined in the studio today by Tom Shooter from the exam awarding organisation Edexcel, and Harriet Mace who is eagerly awaiting her A level results. Guys, welcome to the show!
T: Thank you very much
I: So, Tom, be it your GCSEs or A levels, this is certainly a time for big decisions
T: Yes you know, for most students itís the culmination of two years of really, really hard work and you know itís a very nerve-wracking time for them opening up the envelope and seeing what grades theyíve got. I suppose you know the important message from us is you know, donít panic.
T: And thereís an awful lot you can do to kind of prepare yourself for the big day. Thereís lots of opportunities, lots of choices, options open to the students, you know if they donít get the grades they want thereís opportunities to apply for re-marks if thatís appropriate, probably you want to talk to your teachers or you know the staff at the college or school Ė
T: About Ė thereís opportunities to re-sit, I mean if you really want to go on and try and improve your mark you can re-sit you know the whole or part of the qualification. GCSEs are structured modular now so you do several units to make up an overall mark, so you can re-sit an individual unit and improve your mark that way. Students who are going on to university, obviously youíve got the whole clearing process, so if you donít get the university that you were hoping to get through youíve got clearing process and knowing what to do in that situation means youíre better prepared, so sort of on the day if you know, unfortunately you donít get what youíre after then you know exactly what you need to do to get involved in clearing, so thereís an awful lot of sort of choices, but I mean you know thereís college staff, school or college staff on hand to help you out
T: And you know they will support you through that process. So you know, donít panic, be prepared,
I: There are options and there is support as well. Now Harriet, very exciting, so weíve got two days, did you say Ė
H: Yes two days
I: Before collecting youíre A level results. Before we talk too much about that and your bright future, because it is a bright one, weíve already covered some of this, had a little natter. Do you remember, so going back two years, waiting for your GCSE results?
H: Yes I think I was pretty nervous waiting for my results, but I think maybe not quite as nervous as I am now seeing as A level results kind of have a direct impact on what Iím going to be doing for the next few years, but yes I was pretty nervous about my GCSE results, but you know itís controllable, so thatís good
I: Yes. So how are you preparing yourself you know for the next two days, I mean are you sleeping at the moment?
H: Well Iím having a few nightmares but apart from that Iím not sleeping too badly, but yes just kind of trying to convince myself that Iíd be happy with what happens, whether I get into my first choice or my second choice, and then if I end up going through clearing just trying to remind myself that thereíll be teachers and people on hand that will help me through that process
I: Yes so your first choice is Ė
H: Birmingham University to do medicine
I: I love it. A proper degree. A proper degree Ė not like me, drama and theatre studies all a bit frilly, but if you are doing it, great fun, enjoy. And your second choice then would be?
H: Itís Leeds university to study chemistry
I: Ok great, so again you are preparing. So not only not about being stressed about the outcome but actually being prepared and having these b) plans if you like and not being too concerned if you have to take your b) plan as an option
H: Yes definitely. I think you have to be prepared to sit back and say ok well I didnít get what I first thought I wanted to do, but Iím quite happy to go along for the ride on something else, see where that takes me
I: Yes, exactly. Ok, so weíve got one from Izzy in Ipswich and she says ďIím worried that my mates may get better results than meĒ Ė GCSEs Ė ďand we might get separated ĎcosĒ Ė and I think thatís an abbreviation for because Ė Iím street. ďI wonít get into college.Ē
H: I think generally there is kind of a worry that maybe you might be behind on results. Obviously itís quite stressful picking up your results in the same day that everybodyís getting them, but I donít think thereís any cause to be worried about being left behind. I think generally the right results come out and you can always talk to your school or the college and try and get in that way so Ė
I: And I would say Izzie, if you are watching now, just to let you know, I didnít go to a college with all of my friends, and itís a type of environment actually that everyoneís in the same shoes, everyone is looking for that friend, and itís a very friendly environment and you have lots of fun, and itís not too tricky to make friends at college I donít think. Would you agree?
H: I went to my sixth form so Ė
I: Oh you knew everyone, ok, ok. Jono, Jono says ďif I fail my GCSEs completely is this the end of the world?Ē I hope not!
H: Well itís definitely not the end of the world, thereís definitely other things you can do
T: Yes I mean we offer a full range of BTECs which are sort of well-known and respected vocational qualifications
T: And things so you know students who arenít sort of happy or donít feel able to follow the academic route, theyíre a really sort of valuable way of getting more experience, you know employers recognise them, you know theyíre very work-based, vocational qualifications and really worth looking into if you find your GCSEs havenít worked out you know quite so well for you
I: And how about apprenticeships, are they quite Ė still around?
T: Yes again theyíre all alternative sort of vocational-based apprenticeship programs, sort of very work-based programs where you do sort of, some study work-based studies, sort of BTEC, NVQ Ė National Vocational Qualification elements, and youíre also in many
cases actually doing Ė working with a sort of local employer to do actually, starting work you know in a particular area, so thereís lots of information weíve got a sort of website, you can contact our regional offices, weíve got offices all over the country, theyíll give you more information about that, thatís really, you know, very worth looking into you know, if you find that the traditional GCSE, GCE route isnít for you
I: Ok great, now at the very top of the show you mentioned that you can always get your papers re-marked and weíve actually had a question from Tom, thank you very much Tom
T: Good name
I: On that subject. He says ďhave there been many cases where exam marks have gone down upon re-marking and would this put people off asking for their papers to be re-marked?Ē
T: WE Ė I mean there was a change a few years ago, marks can go down as well as up now. Itís not often it happens. To be honest in most cases re-marks donít result in a change to the overall, you know the original mark. The processes that are in place to make sure marking is standardised and is accurate you know, the really tried and tested so by and large the re-marks we get there isnít a change, but it is a possibility. I think the important thing with re-marks is to talk it out with your teacher, the person who knows you in that subject best, talk about you know what you felt about you know, how the paper went and why you donít feel the result is accurate, so theyíll need to apply, you know on your behalf anyway, you have to go through the school or college, so I think itís sitting down with them and working out whether itís something you really want to do
I: Ok, fab. Now weíve had a question Ė oh itís disappeared, hold on one sec, from Shannon, and Shannon says ďwaiting on my A level grades, Iím a middle-of-the-road student, if I do amazing should I consider going through clearing and going to a uni who wants top grade.Ē Thank you very much, what do you say to that?
T: I guess it kind of depends if theyíve already gone through the application process, I mean if Ė there is a certain sort of obligation, if youíve applied for universities, and many sort of Ė you know, if students turn out to get results that are much better than theyíre expecting
T: Which is the kind of flip side to what we were talking about earlier on
I: Yes, yes
T: Youíve got certain obligations, you canít just sort of, you know go into clearing and try and get through to a different university to the ones where your offers are based, so maybe something youíd want to Ė take a gap year, I mean thatís something that some students might think about if you do, do really well and get better grades that youíd, you know take a year out, perhaps do a bit of work, you know students do a bit of travelling Ė
I: I was actually going to ask you about that because although I had the most incredible time at university I think now Iím in my 30s, one thing I do think about is I wish in a way I had taken that year out and did some travelling, so that wouldnít be something you would say no, donít consider it?
T: No I think lots of students do do that, I mean itís a viable option if you do you know find in that circumstance when you do very well and you think actually I need to take a year to collect. I mean a lot of students actually just do it anyway, you know they decide they want to take a year out. I donít think any sort of universities or employers have a problem with that, you know getting some you know experience and stuff, itís a perfectly acceptable thing for people to do really.
T: I suppose actually going back to the question whether or not, you know if they hadnít applied to university Iím not sure you can go through straight into the UCAS clearing process, I mean thatís something youíd probably want to talk to UCAS about, to finish off I think youíd probably want to talk to UCAS
I: Ok. Now that covers Dave that covers your question, he says ďIím in two minds about taking a gap year so I can save money for uni and do a spot of travel. Will unis look down upon me for taking time out?Ē And I think we concluded that no they wouldnít
T: No I donít think so
H: Not at all, I mean by applying through my applications to uni and stuff, Iíve spoken to a lot of people that have taken gap years and things and providing that theyíve obviously been doing things, they havení[t been just sitting around doing nothing for that year, then I think unis take it as a sign of experience really
I: Yes exactly yes and all experience, life experience, everything
I: Is really good I think. Johnny G, thank you very much, now Johnny G says ďI love my mumís cooking, the packed lunches, free cleaning and ironing services and of course no rent to pay. So Iím thinking of studying whilst living at home. With this in mind, are there degree courses out there which take less than three years?Ē How does your mum feel about that Johnny G? What do you say to that one?
T: I think youíd have to, I mean thereís a great variation of different degree courses out there and you probably want to talk to specific you know universities. I mean you can do higher qualifications, I think we do higher nationals which are sort of BTEC programs which can be converted into a degree level course at a later stage, but I think they can run over two years, so thatís worth thinking about as an option sort of, itís a level 5, sort of degree level qualification, but you know it can be done over a shorter space of time. Whether you can do sort of intensive studying and finish a degree course in Ė less than the standard 3 years is probably something youíd want to approach individual universities about I think
I: But maybe you want to have a bit of a think about things and not just base a decision on fear of washing up! Itís not that scary, put the Marigolds on Johnny G, give it a go! Weíve got another question here from Sean in Wembley, thank you very much, and he says, ďDo you think A level choices shape your entire future?Ē Ooh
T: Good question
H: I donít think they shape your entire future, obviously there are specific degree courses that want certain A levels, but they definitely donít shape what youíre going to do for the rest of your life, so Ė
I: I studies sociology at A level, and look at me now - so no I wouldnít say so. Actually I think itís another Ė itís quite an important time in terms of youíre just finding out who you are and what youíre about, so as much as itís good to do youíre a levels of course, I wouldnít get too bogged down even in the subject matter, unless, like yourself you really have a very strong path and you know where you want to end up
H: I mean even where I want to end up you kind of, you have a certain amount of choices for what you do for A level s tuff, and Iíve taken quite interesting A level choices considering what I wanted to do
H: Iíve taken two sciences and two art subjects, so itís, you know you do have quite a lot of diversity, get a lot of choice and variety, so Ė itís good
I: Excellent. Ok, Beckyís written in, Becky says ďooh Harriet, are you nervous about your results?Ē
H: Yes Iím nervous
I: If she wasnít, she will be after leaving here today where everyoneís going ďHarriet are you really nervous?Ē
H: Yes I think Iím getting more nervous as the days go on, but Iíve only got two days now, so Iíve just go to hang in there
I: Any advice for Becky? So youíre going with your friends to collect your results Ė
I: And then youíve got plans for the evening you were saying?
H: Yes just doing stuff with my friends basically, just to make sure that weíre not suicidal or alone, you know weíre all quite happy about whatever results we get and supporting each other
T: Itís really en Ė itís a real sort of support network on results day
H: Yes there is
T: You know thereís friends all together ,youíve got teaching staff at the school or college, itís really Ė you know itís really kind of, itís quite an emotional time but itís also quite an exciting time as well
I: Yes very exciting time. So Tom then, just to summarise, sort of hot tips for anyone out there
I: If they donít get the grades that they were expecting, what next?
T: Donít get the grades, I mean one of the best things you can do actually weíve got a website examzone.co.uk, where weíve got a lot of information about all the choices that are open, so remember youíve got people there I think, you know talk to people at the school or college where you pick your results up, you know consider things like re-sits and re-marks, might be a possibility if youíre applying to university think about the clearing process, prepare yourself for that, remember the alternatives, you know youíve got vocational qualifications, the BTEC qualifications, think about maybe taking a gap year. Just be prepared I think, donít panic, itís not the end of the world if you donít get the grades youíre after, but the more research you do at this stage then the readier youíll be
I: Ok great, and any advice, you know some fun tips for the day maybe?
H: Just donít panic, just make it a good day whatever happens
H: Just try and stay optimistic and realise that it doesnít mean your whole life is going to go down the pan if you donít get the results that you want
H: You know there are other options and you can definitely make a success of it whatever you get
I: Yes and I have to say I know so many people who at my age who didnít do great at their A levels, and some dropped out of university, and everything has come together beautifully so donít panic, there are options and the main thing is just to stay calm. Although can I just say youíve taken me back a little bit, and Iím a little bit nervous, and I havenít got any results coming my way! You have to email and let us know, let us know how you do
H: Will do
I: Thank you so much for joining us and of course to Tom and Harriet thank you so much for your time, very informative
T: Thank you
H: Thank you
I: For further information do log onto examzone.co.uk and Iíll look forward to seeing you next time, bye bye