Exam results, what next?

About 6 mins

Got your exam results and feeling a bit worried? Perhaps you didn’t get the grades you expected, or maybe you're having second thoughts about your chosen course. You might be a parent or guardian who wants to support your child after they receive their results.

We asked Pauline Graham, who helps run the Exam Results Helpline, to answer some of the most common questions that come up about exam results.

1. I still haven’t received a text or email with my results. What should I do?

Did you sign up and activate your MySQA account? MySQA is designed to give all candidates quick and easy access to their results, but you'll only receive a text or email if you registered.

If you’ve registered, check your MySQA personal information to make sure your email/mobile number is correct.

If you’ve done all this and still don’t have your results, contact SQA straight away on 0345 279 1000.

2. I didn’t get the results I was hoping for. What should I do now?

You can call our Exams Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000* which will open at 8am on Tuesday 6 August. Advisers can give you lots of information on Clearing, resits and the SQA's results services process. They can also chat to you about other options besides going to university and college, such as doing a Modern Apprenticeship, gaining work experience and alternative options for your year ahead.

3. I was expecting a better grade – can I appeal?

The SQA’s appeals process was replaced a few years ago with results services. Results that appear surprising to teachers or lecturers can be checked through the services to make sure marks are accurate. The request must be made through your school or college, so get in touch with a teacher or lecturer for more information about this process. 

Don’t wait too long. The service opens on results day (6 August). Priority marking requests (if you're a candidate with a conditional offer at university or college) must be made by 16 August, and 27 August for all other candidates. Find out more about results services on the SQA website.  Our advisers can give you information on applying through Clearing and taking re-sits. They can also chat to you about other options, such as Modern Apprenticeships, or considering alternative courses for this year.

4. My results don't meet the conditions of any of my course choices. What should I do?

If you don’t meet the conditions of any of your accepted offers and no-one is able to offer you a place, you'll be automatically entered into Clearing. Clearing can help you to find an alternative course. Log in to Track to view your Clearing Number. Then, you can start looking for another course. Find out more about Clearing on the UCAS website.

Whilst you can talk to various universities and/or colleges, you can only apply for one course at a time. Make sure you do your research and contact the university before you apply.

5. My results don't meet the conditions of my firm choice, but I have been accepted by my insurance choice. What happens now?

Your place at your insurance choice will be confirmed and UCAS will send you a letter in the post. This letter will confirm the course you'll study and explain if there’s anything else you need to do.

6. I haven't heard from my choices. What should I do?

If you haven't met the conditions, they may still be considering your application. Whether or not they can make you an offer will depend on whether there are remaining places and the performance of other applicants. Bear in mind that not all applicants get their results at the same time and the university/college may have to wait a few days to see if there are any spaces.

If you’ve met all the conditions, but still haven’t heard from them, check they’re not waiting for further details from you - e.g. your exam certificates or health checks.

If the university/college has everything they should need, contact them directly to find out what's happening.

7. I've met the grades for my firm offer, but I want to change to my insurance choice. What should I do?

As soon as you were accepted by your 'firm choice', your 'insurance choice' would have been informed – this means that your insurance place will no longer be held for you.  

Firstly, you'll need to contact your insurance choice college/university to see if they can still offer you a place on the course of your choice. Once they have agreed to this, you should contact your firm choice institution to advise them of your plans.  If your firm choice agrees to withdraw your offer, you'll be entered into Clearing where your insurance choice can then make you an offer. 

When making this decision, remember that there are no guarantees. Once your firm offer has been cancelled, you can’t automatically go back to this.  If you wish to explore what's out there, discuss your options with a Careers Adviser on the Exam Results Helpline. 

8. I didn't meet the grades for my firm choice, but I don't want to go to my insurance choice. Can I apply elsewhere? 

You should contact your insurance choice university/college to discuss your situation. If they agree to withdraw your offer, you can then apply for another course in Clearing.

Make sure to check the course you want to apply to is willing to offer you a place. Once you withdraw your insurance choice, you can't go back.

9. I didn't meet the grades, but my university/college has not yet declined my place. What should I do?

Even if you didn't meet the conditions, the university/college might still be prepared to accept you - or may be considering whether to offer you a place on an alternative course. Speak to them directly to discuss your options.

10. I am not holding any offers. What can I do? 

Don’t panic. If you're not holding any offers, you'll be entered into Clearing automatically where you can search for available courses. Find out more about Clearing on the UCAS website or log in to Track to start looking for courses.

11. What other options do I have besides going to college or university?

If you don’t think college or university is for you, there's plenty of options that might suit you better. Chat about jobs, internships and other types of work experience with a Careers Adviser, or explore what it might be like to do a Modern Apprenticeship. Modern Apprenticeships allow you to work towards gaining industry-recognised qualifications, while earning a wage at the same time. Find out more about Modern Apprenticeships.

A Graduate Apprenticeship might work for you. They allow you to learn on the job as well as study at college or university. You can gain your degree faster and graduate with a lot of relevant experience. Find out more about Graduate Apprenticeships.

If you're staying on at school, you could also consider taking on a Foundation Apprenticeship. They're the same level as a Higher, and you choose it as one of your subjects in S5 or S6. You'll get real life work experience with an employer, and also spend some time at college. There's no final exam, as you're assessed on an on-going basis over one or two years. In some areas, Foundation Apprenticeships might also be available for pupils moving into S6. Find out what's available in your school on Apprenticeships.scot

12. I don’t know which courses to apply for through Clearing.

Call the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000* and chat to one of our advisers. They can help you figure out which courses are going to best suit your interests and career goals.

13. My child is disappointed with their results and doesn’t know what to do next. Who can we go to for help?

You or your child can call the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000* to get advice on Clearing, re-sits and appeals. The advisers can also chat to your child about their career ambitions, and help them to think of alternative options which they can apply to, which should help re-focus their future plans.

Try to be supportive and help your child explore alternative options rather than dwelling on the disappointment of their results. There are plenty of successful people who have had to change their career path along the way, and our advisers can explore the options ahead with your child. 

14. What are the SCQF credit points on my child’s certificate?

SCQF credit points are based on the total amount of time it is expected to take to complete the qualification. One SCQF credit point represents a notional ten hours of learning, e.g. a Higher Course (SCQF level 6) with 24 SCQF credits, requires approximately 240 hours of learning. 

15. On my certificate, it talks about SCQF levels. What are these?

The level of the qualification is an indicator of its difficulty. These levels range from 1, the least difficult (introductory level courses) through to 12, the most challenging (including PhDs). To find out more, have a look at the SCQF’s website and their Interactive Framework tool.

16.  I received better results than I was expecting, can I change my course?

UCAS Adjustment allows people who have met and exceeded the conditions for their firm choice to apply for an alternative course whilst retaining their original offer. Adjustment is available between 15-31 August and is entirely optional. If you think you may be interested in using Adjustment, contact 0808 100 8000* and our advisers can help you decide if it’s a good option for you.

*Please note that operator charges may apply.