There is life after exam results
If you have a child at school or sixth form college, you’re no doubt bracing yourselves for the arrival of this year’s GCSE and GCE (A Level and AS Level) exam results. If your child’s results are not as good as might have been hoped for it can be a crushing experience for both of you, but trust us—there’s 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 that’s guaranteed to assist them with their next steps.
Whether they’ve 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. He’ll 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, I’m Vicky Letch. Now then, if you have a teenager at school or sixth form college, you’re no doubt bracing yourself for the arrival of this year’s 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, that’s absolutely no need to panic. No matter what the grades are. I’m 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 it’s the culmination of two years of really, really hard work and you know it’s a very nerve-wracking time for them opening up the envelope and seeing what grades they’ve got. I suppose you know the important message from us is you know, don’t panic.
T: And there’s an awful lot you can do to kind of prepare yourself for the big day. There’s lots of opportunities, lots of choices, options open to the students, you know if they don’t get the grades they want there’s opportunities to apply for re-marks if that’s appropriate, probably you want to talk to your teachers or you know the staff at the college or school –
T: About – there’s 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 you’ve got the whole clearing process, so if you don’t get the university that you were hoping to get through you’ve got clearing process and knowing what to do in that situation means you’re better prepared, so sort of on the day if you know, unfortunately you don’t get what you’re after then you know exactly what you need to do to get involved in clearing, so there’s an awful lot of sort of choices, but I mean you know there’s 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, don’t panic, be prepared,
I: There are options and there is support as well. Now Harriet, very exciting, so we’ve got two days, did you say –
H: Yes two days
I: Before collecting you’re A level results. Before we talk too much about that and your bright future, because it is a bright one, we’ve 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 I’m going to be doing for the next few years, but yes I was pretty nervous about my GCSE results, but you know it’s controllable, so that’s 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 I’m having a few nightmares but apart from that I’m not sleeping too badly, but yes just kind of trying to convince myself that I’d 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 there’ll be teachers and people on hand that will help me through that process
I: Yes so your first choice is –
H: Birmingham University to do medicine
I: I love it. A proper degree. A proper degree – 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: It’s 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 didn’t get what I first thought I wanted to do, but I’m quite happy to go along for the ride on something else, see where that takes me
I: Yes, exactly. Ok, so we’ve got one from Izzy in Ipswich and she says “I’m worried that my mates may get better results than me” – GCSEs – “and we might get separated ‘cos” – and I think that’s an abbreviation for because – I’m street. “I won’t get into college.”
H: I think generally there is kind of a worry that maybe you might be behind on results. Obviously it’s quite stressful picking up your results in the same day that everybody’s getting them, but I don’t think there’s 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 –
I: And I would say Izzie, if you are watching now, just to let you know, I didn’t go to a college with all of my friends, and it’s a type of environment actually that everyone’s in the same shoes, everyone is looking for that friend, and it’s a very friendly environment and you have lots of fun, and it’s not too tricky to make friends at college I don’t think. Would you agree?
H: I went to my sixth form so –
I: Oh you knew everyone, ok, ok. Jono, Jono says “if I fail my GCSEs completely is this the end of the world?” I hope not!
H: Well it’s definitely not the end of the world, there’s 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 aren’t sort of happy or don’t feel able to follow the academic route, they’re a really sort of valuable way of getting more experience, you know employers recognise them, you know they’re very work-based, vocational qualifications and really worth looking into if you find your GCSEs haven’t worked out you know quite so well for you
I: And how about apprenticeships, are they quite – still around?
T: Yes again they’re 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 – National Vocational Qualification elements, and you’re also in many
cases actually doing – working with a sort of local employer to do actually, starting work you know in a particular area, so there’s lots of information we’ve got a sort of website, you can contact our regional offices, we’ve got offices all over the country, they’ll give you more information about that, that’s really, you know, very worth looking into you know, if you find that the traditional GCSE, GCE route isn’t 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 we’ve actually had a question from Tom, thank you very much Tom
T: Good name
I: On that subject. He says “have 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?”
T: WE – I mean there was a change a few years ago, marks can go down as well as up now. It’s not often it happens. To be honest in most cases re-marks don’t 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 isn’t 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 don’t feel the result is accurate, so they’ll need to apply, you know on your behalf anyway, you have to go through the school or college, so I think it’s sitting down with them and working out whether it’s something you really want to do
I: Ok, fab. Now we’ve had a question – oh it’s disappeared, hold on one sec, from Shannon, and Shannon says “waiting on my A level grades, I’m 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.” Thank you very much, what do you say to that?
T: I guess it kind of depends if they’ve already gone through the application process, I mean if – there is a certain sort of obligation, if you’ve applied for universities, and many sort of – you know, if students turn out to get results that are much better than they’re expecting
T: Which is the kind of flip side to what we were talking about earlier on
I: Yes, yes
T: You’ve got certain obligations, you can’t 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 you’d want to – take a gap year, I mean that’s something that some students might think about if you do, do really well and get better grades that you’d, you know take a year out, perhaps do a bit of work, you know students do a bit of travelling –
I: I was actually going to ask you about that because although I had the most incredible time at university I think now I’m 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 wouldn’t be something you would say no, don’t consider it?
T: No I think lots of students do do that, I mean it’s 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 don’t think any sort of universities or employers have a problem with that, you know getting some you know experience and stuff, it’s 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 hadn’t applied to university I’m not sure you can go through straight into the UCAS clearing process, I mean that’s something you’d probably want to talk to UCAS about, to finish off I think you’d probably want to talk to UCAS
I: Ok. Now that covers Dave that covers your question, he says “I’m 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?” And I think we concluded that no they wouldn’t
T: No I don’t think so
H: Not at all, I mean by applying through my applications to uni and stuff, I’ve spoken to a lot of people that have taken gap years and things and providing that they’ve obviously been doing things, they haven’[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 “I love my mum’s cooking, the packed lunches, free cleaning and ironing services and of course no rent to pay. So I’m thinking of studying whilst living at home. With this in mind, are there degree courses out there which take less than three years?” How does your mum feel about that Johnny G? What do you say to that one?
T: I think you’d have to, I mean there’s 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 that’s worth thinking about as an option sort of, it’s 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 – less than the standard 3 years is probably something you’d 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! It’s not that scary, put the Marigolds on Johnny G, give it a go! We’ve got another question here from Sean in Wembley, thank you very much, and he says, “Do you think A level choices shape your entire future?” Ooh
T: Good question
H: I don’t think they shape your entire future, obviously there are specific degree courses that want certain A levels, but they definitely don’t shape what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, so –
I: I studies sociology at A level, and look at me now - so no I wouldn’t say so. Actually I think it’s another – it’s quite an important time in terms of you’re just finding out who you are and what you’re about, so as much as it’s good to do you’re a levels of course, I wouldn’t 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 I’ve taken quite interesting A level choices considering what I wanted to do
H: I’ve taken two sciences and two art subjects, so it’s, you know you do have quite a lot of diversity, get a lot of choice and variety, so – it’s good
I: Excellent. Ok, Becky’s written in, Becky says “ooh Harriet, are you nervous about your results?”
H: Yes I’m nervous
I: If she wasn’t, she will be after leaving here today where everyone’s going “Harriet are you really nervous?”
H: Yes I think I’m getting more nervous as the days go on, but I’ve only got two days now, so I’ve just go to hang in there
I: Any advice for Becky? So you’re going with your friends to collect your results –
I: And then you’ve got plans for the evening you were saying?
H: Yes just doing stuff with my friends basically, just to make sure that we’re not suicidal or alone, you know we’re all quite happy about whatever results we get and supporting each other
T: It’s really en – it’s a real sort of support network on results day
H: Yes there is
T: You know there’s friends all together ,you’ve got teaching staff at the school or college, it’s really – you know it’s really kind of, it’s quite an emotional time but it’s 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 don’t get the grades that they were expecting, what next?
T: Don’t get the grades, I mean one of the best things you can do actually we’ve got a website examzone.co.uk, where we’ve got a lot of information about all the choices that are open, so remember you’ve 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 you’re applying to university think about the clearing process, prepare yourself for that, remember the alternatives, you know you’ve got vocational qualifications, the BTEC qualifications, think about maybe taking a gap year. Just be prepared I think, don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the grades you’re after, but the more research you do at this stage then the readier you’ll be
I: Ok great, and any advice, you know some fun tips for the day maybe?
H: Just don’t panic, just make it a good day whatever happens
H: Just try and stay optimistic and realise that it doesn’t mean your whole life is going to go down the pan if you don’t 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 didn’t do great at their A levels, and some dropped out of university, and everything has come together beautifully so don’t panic, there are options and the main thing is just to stay calm. Although can I just say you’ve taken me back a little bit, and I’m a little bit nervous, and I haven’t 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 I’ll look forward to seeing you next time, bye bye