This year young people have taken exams and assessments in A levels, T levels and other post 16 qualifications for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
Results will look different to the last 2 years, because the nature of the assessment is different.
Results in summer 2022 will be higher than in 2019, when students last sat summer exams, but lower than 2021 when grades were based on assessments by teachers.
We know this has raised a lot of questions from students, so we’ve worked with UCAS to answer them here.
How will A level grades be awarded this year?
This year young people and students have taken exams for the first time following the disruption caused by the pandemic.
So, to support students, Ofqual's approach to grading in 2022 will be aiming to reflect a midway point between 2019 and 2021. It means grading will be more generous than when exams last took place before the pandemic.
Because of this, grades will likely be higher than 2019, providing a safety net for this year’s students for those who might otherwise have missed out on a higher grade.
If grades are lower overall than last year does that mean it will be harder for people to get into university?
Following Ofqual’s September announcement on grading, universities have been excellent at making sure the way they set entry requirements and make offers to students will reflect the grades students will receive this summer. will. So, despite grades being overall lower this year, this shouldn’t affect anyone’s chances of getting into university.
Record numbers of students have applied to university so far this year, and UCAS recently reported that by their 7 June deadline 281,500 UK 18-year-olds had picked their firm choices.
117,000 of these UK 18-year-olds are also holding offers at the top universities, which is the second-highest figure on record.
UCAS are expecting more students compared to previous years will gain a place at their firm choice university on A-level and T-level results day.
Students can have confidence that getting into higher education is a fair process, with admissions teams taking into account the broad range of information about a student in addition to their predicted grades, including their personal statement, teacher references, and for certain courses that had a 15 October application deadline, their performance in admissions tests.
Are there fewer places at universities this year than last year? And is this because people deferred entry last year because of the pandemic?
Competition for places at the top universities has always been high and this year is no different.
It is the case every year that some students choose to defer their higher education place, often to take up work or travel opportunities which are important for building skills and experiences.
But it’s not accurate to say a high number of deferrals from last year has caused a squeeze on places this year. In 2021, 6.5% of all accepted applicants deferred their place. This is up by just 0.9 percentage points compared to 2019 and 0.3 percentage points compared to 2020.
Are there fewer places on medical and dental courses at universities this year?
Medicine and dentistry are hugely competitive courses, and consistently have far more applicants than there are places available. It is natural that every year, a number of students who apply for these in-demand courses will be disappointed.
We have boosted the number of places over the years – lifting the cap on medical school places from just over 6,000 in 2016/17 to 7,571 in 2022/23.
A number of medicine and dentistry schools may have made fewer offers than they would have done previously to ensure they remain within the cap – the caps are vital to ensure teaching, learning and assessment standards are maintained as well as ensuring there are enough high-quality placements for each student. For some students, that may lead to them getting fewer offers than they were expecting.
However, providers will make fair decisions around admissions and students who are unable to secure a place in Medicine or Dentistry will have a number of other high-quality options, either within Higher Education or through other post-18 pathways.
I am still not sure if university is the right choice for me
Higher education can be a great choice for many students.
Students should be ambitious with their study choices and take the time to consider the route that is best for them. University is by no means the right option for everyone, including those who achieve the highest grades.
There are lots of choices out there for students to get where they want to go, including Post 16 and 18 technical options, such as Traineeships, T Levels, Apprenticeships, Kickstart and Higher Technical Qualifications.
Students can find further information about the choices available on the National Careers Service website or through UCAS’s Clearing, Clearing Plus or Career Finder tool for apprenticeship opportunities.
What options are there for students who are disappointed?
UCAS’ advice to students is to be confident, but we always recommend they have a back-up plan and spend some time over the summer researching alternatives in the scenario they are not placed at their firm or insurance choice.
If students do not get the grades they need, their preferred university may still offer them a place.
In the first instance, we encourage students to talk to their school or college, or to their preferred university, who may be able to offer some flexibility.
Students can also seek advice from the Exam Results Helpline run by the National Careers Service. Just as they do in any normal year, UCAS will help thousands of students to find places through Clearing if you need or choose to explore other options once students have received their grades
UCAS’s application deadline before Clearing (30 June) has only just passed so it’s too early to speculate on the exact courses that will be available in Clearing, but students who are seeking a place through Clearing can be confident of a strong range of choices available.