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Will A-level exam changes hit student university place plans?

PUBLISHED: 07:35 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:26 01 May 2020

A-level students face extra uncertainty after exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Getty Images

A-level students face extra uncertainty after exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Getty Images

Getty Images

Coronavirus has impacted all levels of education, from nurseries to final exams. But for many 17 and 18-year-olds, the impact has been particularly acute.

Ofqual has said A and As-level grade will be based on teacher assessment of classroom work, mock exams and extra curricular work. Picture: Getty ImagesOfqual has said A and As-level grade will be based on teacher assessment of classroom work, mock exams and extra curricular work. Picture: Getty Images

These students have had their A-level exams cancelled, and many are likely to be starting university or work with social distancing and remote learning in place.

At an unusual time for students and pupils who were studying for such big exams, the results are now largely out of their hands

The government sector Ofqual has said students will be graded using a new criteria guide. They will receive a grade based on their teacher’s assessment of their work from the classroom, mock exams and extra curricular work.

Students can expect to receive their final grades around the normal August results day times or slightly earlier.

They also face having what is a key milestone permanently altered by coronavirus,celebratory summer plans, moving out of home for university life or preparing for higher education.

So what does this all mean for students? Jerry White, deputy principal at City College Norwich, answers some of the burning questions...

Jerry White, deputy principal of City College Norwich. Picture: Richard Steer/City College NorwichJerry White, deputy principal of City College Norwich. Picture: Richard Steer/City College Norwich

What’s happening with university places?

The national regulator of qualifications, Ofqual, has been very clear in telling universities and colleges that this year’s grades must be viewed in the same way as those from any other year. This is supported by the thorough processes that have been put in place, which will draw on a wide of evidence in determining this year’s grades.

Will the university I’m applying to change the offer they have given me?

No. Your offer should remain unchanged. If you have any questions about this, talk to the Higher Education Institution to which you have applied.

Students can expect to receive their final grades around the normal August results day despite A-lvel exams being cancelled. Picture: Getty ImagesStudents can expect to receive their final grades around the normal August results day despite A-lvel exams being cancelled. Picture: Getty Images

What happens if the A-level grades I receive are less than I need for university?

As in any normal year, UCAS will be running its Clearing process to help match applicants with a suitable higher education place. This enables those who didn’t meet the conditions of their offers, or who hadn’t initially applied, to find a Higher Education place. You can find full details on the Clearing process, and start your Clearing applications, on the UCAS website.

What support is available to me, academically and emotionally?

Although we are currently in lockdown, schools and college staff are still operating and providing their students with academic and wider support. So, whatever it is that you want to talk about, make your current teachers your first port of call. Over and above this, there are many different ways to access the support you may need during these unusual and challenging times. This ranges from self help style options such as apps, all the way through to referral services via your GP with lots of options in between. It’s important to find the right level for you and all these options will look to equip you with the skills you will need to keep building your resilience so you bounce back from the hard times.

School closures and social distancing may mean A-level students cannot celebrate results are normal. Picture: Simon ParkinSchool closures and social distancing may mean A-level students cannot celebrate results are normal. Picture: Simon Parkin

I’m in Year 11 and have got no more work to do, how can I get ready for college or sixth form?

It is a great idea to check with your sixth form or college about the preparation you can be doing now to help make a really good transition in September. Some institutions have information on their websites about this. If it is not online, and you haven’t heard from your sixth form or college, then get in touch with them to ask out about the work you can be doing now.

I’m very anxious about my grades. Where can I get some help?

Contact the pastoral/wellbeing staff at your school or college. Most education providers still have staff available to support and advise. If you these worries are starting to become too much, or you are getting worried about yourself, it is important to talk these through. Options available to you include talking with your GP, and resources and help available through MIND (0300 123 3393 ) or MAP or the Anna Freud Centre.

MORE: What will GCSE, A-levels and vocational exam changes mean for students?

MORE: How will GCSE changes affect sixth form and college places?


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