I’ve done better than expected in my A levels – what should I do?

First of all, congratulations!

You’ve proved you can knuckle down and outperform expectations when the going gets tough – a quality that will stand you in good stead for university and for later life.

You’ve now got something of a dilemma, though. Should you settle for the university that’s already offered you a place, or trade up to a university that was asking for higher grades? That’s a very real option for you. What’s more, you don’t even have to take a year out and apply again next year, thanks to the process known as adjustment.

What is Adjustment?

Basically, it’s like the reverse of clearing.

Adjustment is the name given to the UCAS-run process for those students whose A level results exceeded their firm-choice university’s conditional offer and who wish to obtain a place at an institution with higher entry requirements – and remaining places on a degree programme they wish to study.

How do I find out where I can apply to?

You can call as many institutions as you wish to enquire about whether they have places available. Universities normally list the courses for which they still have vacancies on their websites, while UCAS also provides information on which institutions are participating each year. It could also be possible to consider Joint Honours Law students. 

How does adjustment work?

In order to be eligible, the student may consider alternative courses with higher grades than that of their existing firm choice. Swapping to a uni with equal or lower grade requirements isn’t on. 

What if I don’t find a suitable uni to switch to?

Your place at your firm choice university is held for you throughout, so if you don’t find a new course through adjustment, you don’t lose out on your original choice.

How long does the adjustment period last?

Adjustment becomes available on results day, and continues until September. However, once a student registers for adjustment they have a maximum of five days to obtain a new place, or they revert back to their original firm choice. Obviously, the quicker students get on the case, 

What else do I need to think about when making this decision?

As is the case with clearing, switching courses and attending a new institution does come with risks.

It is possible, for example, that student finance will be delayed, and accommodation offers may be withdrawn, meaning you may not be able to secure the halls of residence of your choice. 

Case study

Dina Mullings is an LLB Law Student at the University of Leicester

It’s 2am in Miami and results have just been released in the UK. Feeling very nervous and tired, I opened the message containing my A level results. I couldn’t believe it! I was so surprised! They were better than predicted. As a result, I was able to utilise the adjustment process.

After my initial excitement, things quickly turned panicky, as I wanted to secure the best place for me to study law. As I was in Miami, this made it more challenging, as I was having difficulty using the calling card initially.

I managed to secure offers from four universities, via phone, as well as offers from my firm and insurance universities. To make my decision, I considered the opportunities offered by the universities, as well as their locations. This was a huge and difficult decision.

I have really enjoyed my first year of studying law at the University of Leicester and living away from home has made me very independent. In September, I am returning for my second year and during this year, I intend to apply for vacation schemes to gain more legal experience.

My advice to anyone going through the adjustment or clearing process would be to consider your options carefully before making any decisions. You don’t want to rush and regret it!