Do A-Levels Matter If You've Got Into University?

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Do A-levels still matter once your at university?
Do A-levels still matter once your at university?

For many of the students who have their hopes set on university, their A-levels are a mere ticket to get there; they are the key to unlock the door to higher education.

But on Monday, it emerged many students who had secured a place at their first choice were still disappointed with their grades.

A member of conversation forum The Student Room started a thread saying they was "disappointed" with their ABB grade, even though the university was "kind enough to let me in (the offer was AAB)".

"I thought getting in was all that mattered and that I wouldn't care but I still have a profound sense of being 'miffed'," the student adds.

The comment sparked a debate about whether getting into university is enough or if a sense of personal fulfilment is equally, if not more, important.

One user agreed, writing: "This is exactly how I feel - I still feel I have let myself down, even though I got into university. I'm worried people on my course will look down on me for not getting the grades." Another member, Snowflake, added: "Same. Do you three also feel like you shouldn't be going because you missed your grades and hence don't deserve to go. Or are wondering 'what exactly did I do that made them decide to take me?'"

However some were not so sympathetic.

M'Ling replied advising: "Honestly, two weeks into uni you really won't care. A-levels practically mean nothing once you're there."

While Billton posted: "No one at uni has ever asked me what I got at A Level- or even what I studied. No one cares at uni, and after a month you won't either!"

The debate got us asking: if you're going to university, are A-levels just a means to an end? Or are they something more?

Well, according to this student, his A-level results have had no impact on his life post-university acceptance:


Tom Gove
had that last year, seemed a shame at the time, but I don't think it's affected me at an academic level, perhaps more just ego

Layla, an 18-year-old student was predicted ABB in English Literature, Psychology and Religious Studies respectively. She got BCC. Although she was still accepted into Roehampton University, she says she has had a "big knock in confidence".

"My school cannot afford resits for all of us so have said if we have got into the university we wanted that we should just forget [resits]," she told The Huffington Post UK.

"I'm being told by others I only needed A-levels to get into uni and that I should just leave it now and celebrate. However A-levels are portrayed has such a big stepping stone in your education so it only feels right to come out with with 'good' grades or at least grades that you're happy with."

Layla says she is concerned she will be judged by her grades when she starts university and worries they will affect her chances of getting a job.

She adds she regrets putting all her efforts into her exams: "During my A-levels I was constantly putting my revision and classes before anything else. I feel as though I haven't had an all-rounded experience because the two years was just about learning to pass exams.

"I would have loved to write for a newspaper or gain some work experience but didn't want anything to get in the way. A few days ago I was even contemplating taking a gap year just to resit the exams. I just hope my grades won't hold me back. I'll just have to wait and see."


Charley Packham
i don't think it matters if you only just missed out on what you wanted. i would just like the opportunity to improve on 0!

One 27-year-old. who wished to remain anonymous, had similar concerns when he didn't get his expected grades, again despite securing a place at university.

More surprisingly, he found although he gained a first in his degree, he was held back by his CCC-grades at A-level when it came to job-hunting.

"Throughout uni I did well, managing to get firsts in throughout my years there," he says. "When it came to my placement year and final year I had to apply for jobs and I found that many companies wouldn't even consider my application because of my A-Level results.

"I just think with the job market as it currently is and the amount of competition, students need everything at their disposal. A-levels, degrees, personality, the lot."

So what do the experts think?

Nick Hynes, a Ucas exam results helpline adviser, said it is one of major queries he and his team deal with.

"There is a lot of pressure on young people to attain the best grades. But if the university has offered you a place then you are good enough. They believe you can achieve more.

"At the end of the day, what universities think is more important than what you, an 18-year-old, thinks. They've been doing this for years.

"Employers are always most interested in what you have achieved most recently. Three years on from A-levels, you have taken your finals - no-one is really that bothered about what you get at A-level."

Perhaps one Tweeter has the right idea...


Alan Hooker
What's more important still is your motive for going into HE. Too much emphasis on university as only way.