Exam results season is upon us once again, bringing with it an air of nervous tension which students must endure before results day and the freedom of the summer break and the potential wonders of university life can begin. It all seems a little daunting at this point doesn't it? Well, it doesn't need to be.
While the pessimists among you may already be wondering whether you'll need to go through the dreaded clearing process, I'd like to bring your attention to the other side of the UCAS coin - adjustment.
Adjustment is the UCAS process you need when your results turn out to be better than expected; it's your route to a university that you originally didn't dare to dream of. So if your predicted BCC turns into ABB, or your International Baccalaureate (IB) score exceeds expectations (or you suspect they might), from the 13th August you have five days to secure a place at the best university possible for you. Here is what you should do before the champagne corks pop.
Step one is to congratulate yourself.
Next you must understand that exploring adjustment options will in no way put your existing offers at risk. You've earned your grades and it's time they start working for you. You can find information on how to use UCAS' adjustment service here, but below are my own views on how you can make the most of your grades.
- Evaluate your grades, goals and research the courses and universities you plan to approach. Pay close attention to the specific details of each course. Remember that universities with the greatest kudos may not have the strongest courses for your chosen subject. Don't fall into the trap of going to a university for the sake of it.
- Your next step is to pick up that telephone and be prepared for a mini interview. Even if your target universities aren't advertising adjustment capacity you need to speak with admission tutors personally to assess if you would be better off studying with them rather than your existing firm offer.
- Remember that while your grades are better than you were hoping for, you have more to offer than grades alone. Be sure to point out any relevant extra-curricular activities and interests- often brought to the fore by the IB- and clearly explain their relevance to that particular course. Maybe you can demonstrate teamwork, dedication; you never know what will strike a chord with a particular tutor. Above all pay close attention to what the tutors have to say.
- Don't cut corners with blanket emails. While it makes perfect sense to have certain details and personal information typed up in advance - your UCAS personal ID number and your educational information (e.g. prior grades, extracurricular information) - it's important to tailor each email you send to the individual institution and course you're applying to.
In the event you are offered a place through adjustment it's likely that those universities will contact you by phone or email and it will appear on your UCAS track page. It's now decision time; remember that accepting a new offer will affect your original firm choice.