So you’ve got your exam results – what’s next? Navigating your next steps

by | Aug 11, 2020 | News

Although this year’s cohort hasn’t had to take exams, the last few months have been stressful and challenging for school leavers in many other ways. Social distancing rules can make you question your university choices, whilst the shift in job opportunities available can make you reconsider previous career aspirations. To top it off, ever-changing restrictions on international travel and working visas have made it more difficult to pursue dreams of working abroad or travelling around the world.  

So what are the options for those receiving A-level or BTEC results today? We’ve put together some information to help navigate the next steps.

  1. Speak to your school/ college

If you haven’t done so already, asking your school/ college for advice is often a good place to start, especially if your results mean that you need to reconsider your plans. They have likely helped others in a similar situation to you before and may be able to help advise you. Particularly when it comes to university admissions, it is important to act quickly, so make sure that if there are any issues or you are wanting to change your mind, you seek advice on results day.  

  1. Can I appeal about my results? 

Unlike other years where students could pay for a remark, this year appeals can only be made if both the student and the school suspect a technical or administrative error has occurred in the process.

  1. Can I re-sit my exams?

Yes. Although there are no clear dates yet, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that students will be able to resit ‘at the earliest reasonable opportunity once schools are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021’. Your school/ college will likely be able to give more information about this should you ask.

  1. What if I missed my grades for University? 

If you still want to go to university this year there are a few options. If you’ve only missed your grade slightly, you could call up the university directly. Whilst they are under no obligation to, they may choose to reconsider their decision or you could be offered a place on another course at the same university. 

Alternatively, you could choose to accept the decision and go through the results day clearing process instead. Read UCAS’s guide to clearing.

If you decide that you don’t want to go to University this year, you may want to consider some of the other options below.

  1. What if I did better than expected? 

If you end up doing better than you expected, you may want to consider adjustment – meaning that you could potentially swap your place for one on another course you prefer. Read UCAS’s guide to adjustment

  1. Getting yourself work ready

Whether you are looking for a part-time job whilst going onto further study or are looking for an entry level role or apprenticeship – you will need a good CV. Browse our templates created especially for school leavers on writing a good CV and cover letter. Keep Britain Working are launching a free webinar series in partnership with Google Digital Garage in September to help people get work ready covering the following topics: Find Your Career Goals, Build a CV & Write a Cover Letter and Build Your Personal Brand Online. Sign up here. 

  1. Look for a job

When you’re starting out and not always sure what you’re looking for, you may find it easier to browse rather than search by job title, for instance browsing by sector or location. You can find something suited to your experience by browsing entry level jobs

With competition for jobs greater than ever, it can be tempting to apply to everything and anything but it’s a far better use of your time to make fewer but better applications. Make sure that you read the job descriptions carefully and tailor your application to each job. It’s always a good idea to make your profile as complete as possible and make your CV visible to recruiters so that you can maximise your chances of being considered for job opportunities. 

It’s important not to be too harsh on yourself if you are finding it difficult – these are exceptional circumstances to be job hunting in. Stay positive and continue with other activities such as exercise and catching up with friends and family in order to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing. 

You may also find it helpful to look for a temporary job to make ends meet and build experience whilst you find that dream job. It’s often getting that first job that is the hardest so be open to trying new things as anything you can add to your CV will make the next stage of the job hunt easier. 

  1. Find an apprenticeship 

Apprenticeships are great ways to get started in a profession, with a salary, on the job training and a chance to gain new qualifications at the same time. Furthermore, with recent government announcements to support more businesses to take on new apprentices, it is likely that more opportunities for apprenticeships will become available in the coming months. You can find out more about apprentices on the government’s dedicated apprenticeships website or search for apprenticeships on job boards like There are also lots of apprenticeships you can search for on

  1. The new ‘Kickstart’ scheme

The government recently announced a new ‘kickstart’ scheme to help young people who would otherwise struggle to get into employment, through a programme that subsidises wages for 16-24 year olds for six months. Precise details of the scheme have been slow to emerge, but it’s hoped that more information becomes available in late August so that the placements can start in October. As part of the kickstart scheme, participants would work with Jobcentre work coaches and other providers for 13 weeks to become “work ready” and then start a work placement for the next 13 weeks of the six month scheme, with the aim of a permanent job or apprenticeship at the end. If you’re interested, keep your eyes peeled on the news for further information. 

  1. Traineeships and work experience

A traineeship is a training programme with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last up to 6 months. As it isn’t a job, employers are not required to pay you for the placement, but they can support you with expenses such as transport and meals.You can find out more about traineeships or find a traineeship via 

  1. Take a course

You may not want to go to University but that doesn’t mean that you can’t invest in your future through taking a course. There are a wide variety of courses out there that can help prepare you for the world of work, including free courses or relatively inexpensive ones. Google Digital Garage also has a good selection of free courses available such as Data and Technology, Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy. 

  1. Start your own business

If you have a good business idea, you may want to seek support and funding to start your own business. The Prince’s Trust runs an Enterprise scheme that works with 18 to 30-year-olds living in the UK to turn big ideas into a reality and has already helped over 86,000 young people to start their own business. 

  1. Get help and support

If you’re 18 to 24 years old and out of work, help and support is available from many different places. At your local Jobcentre Plus, a work coach can give you information about programmes to help you prepare for, find and stay in work. 

If you’re looking for advice about careers or other options, then your local Jobcentre can put you in touch with a careers adviser. You can also visit the National Careers Service website.

Best of luck from the Keep Britain Working Team on your next steps

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln

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