Leniency and A level grades - anxious DS

(17 Posts)
Bronwen11 Tue 02-Jun-15 00:37:51

DS now very worried about likely grades. Has AAB/ABB offers for bioscience. The physics may slip - he's struggled this year to keep up. Biology is much better - may get an A overall and this is his intended subject. My advice is to crack on. And when the time comes, and if need be, to phone the universities and try to speak to admissions tutors. I know the unis take on lots of graduates to man the phones but presumably it's possibly to speak to a tutor at that point?

But the reality? I know the cap on places has gone but is a good AAB/ABB university likely to accept, say, a rather different grade profile?

His anxiety is certainly impeding his revision. I'm doing all I can to reassure him.

Kez100 Tue 02-Jun-15 08:07:22

It's out of his control. If he concentrates on what is in his control - the revision, then what will be will be.

Over and over admissions tutors say they cannot tell from year to year what will happen on results day to those that miss and I've always thought you'd not want to be on a course you'd struggle on anyway for three years.

UptheChimney Tue 02-Jun-15 09:24:59

And when the time comes, and if need be, to phone the universities and try to speak to admissions tutors

No, don't do that. It won't help, really. There are better times/people to telephone.

Universities receive A Level results a few days before the candidates. They use these to match offers to achievements of those who've firmly accepted their offer.

That's straightforward, and all those places will be confirmed.

Once they've matched achieved offers to places, they then look at the overall pattern of offers achieved in the university as a whole, then at each department/unit, with a view to whether they need to adjust quota across different subjects, what the capacity is for each subject, and so on.

With that information, then universities look at where there are opportunities for "relaxing" or "softening" grades. Because of changes in funding & quotas, if an applicant has ABB, and an offer, even if they haven't achieved the offer, they can be in a good position for their offer being confirmed. The government has removed caps on numbers of applicants with A Levels at ABB and above (before we used to have caps, and were severely fined if we over-recruited). Now, the limit on student numbers with ABB and above is the limit that the university can teach, rather than the government quota.

So, if a university has the places after they've confirmed the applicants who've made the offer, then they'll work down a list of those who just missed the offer.

If your DS is in that position, he'll be contacted. It's best to sit tight until you hear from your 1st choice/Firmly accepted place. Meanwhile, he has an Insurance offer. If he makes the grades for that offer, he has a place.

If he doesn't make the grades for either Firm or Insurance offer, and neither decides to relax/soften entry grades, then HE gets on the net, and the phone, and goes into Clearing. He'll have seen other universities and considered other courses in the course of choosing his Firm & Insurance -- so he'll have some idea of other places to study.

Or, he could go & work for a year, build up useful employment experience, and retake and reapply.

There are parachutes. A Levels are not the be all and end all. Neither is university.

BUT, there is no way an Admissions Tutor in a department, nor anyone in the central Admissions team at any university knows now what the situation will be in August. So leave it be. We're all flat out marking procrastinating third-marking failing dissertations and we just don't know how many places we'll have available to those who don't quite make their offers in August.

I think your DS is doing that human thing: projecting current anxiety about studying & exams on future possibilities. He needs to focus on the here and now.

(Former admissions tutor here: it's a complex couple of weeks, and Admissions tutors cannot take holidays in August at all -- makes for a long year ...)

spinoa Tue 02-Jun-15 12:17:40

Now, the limit on student numbers with ABB and above is the limit that the university can teach, rather than the government quota.

There is no limit at all, regardless of grades, for 2015/2016 onwards.

OP seemed to be saying that her son should phone after results are known, not now. In practice her son will get a straight yes/no on results day, as the universities get the grades sooner, and clearing requirements will also be made available on that day, so there won't be much gained from calling admissions tutors.

In practice ABB could well be likely to drop to BBB or equivalent in clearing and BBB is equivalent points-wise to ABC. But as the others write it's hard to know how many places would be available with those grades.

Littleham Tue 02-Jun-15 12:26:04

Look on the university website to see if they have specific information of what your ds should do on results day (if grades have dropped). My dd got a place at her insurance and it just got updated on track. So log into track first to see what has happened & then look at the website to see what they want your ds to do. He will probably find that the phone lines are jammed anyway! It would be very wise for him to plan ahead in case he is in clearing.

This is Bristol Uni statement as an example -
When all the exam results are published in August, if there are still places available after we have confirmed places for all the applicants who have met the terms of their offer, the relevant admissions tutor will make a final decision for those who have narrowly missed their offer. If your son / daughter finds that they have not met the terms of their offer on results day, they should check UCAS Track to see if a decision has already been made. If they find they are still waiting for a decision, they should contact their firm choice before assuming they have not been accepted.

SansaUndercover Tue 02-Jun-15 19:54:11

In general, it's not worth phoning if a decision has been made to reject an applicant- especially if you have no new information to give to the uni. The admissions tutor is very, very unlikely to change their mind on the basis of one phone call, and it's usually time that could be better spent looking for a clearing place.

It's only really worth phoning if no decision has been posted on track on results day, which does happen occasionally (I think Durham have form for doing this in some circumstances).

I agree with Kez100. He's much better off focusing on the things he can control, doing revision and doing his absolute best to get the grades he needs to get into his firm and insurance.

Usually there is a bit of leniency on results day, at some courses at some unis, but this isn't predictable, and there's no point trying to second guess it. If it reassures him, tell him that some people do get let in to their firms/insurances each year having missed their grades.

MissDemelzaCarne Tue 02-Jun-15 20:01:25

What time is Track updated on results day?

UptheChimney Tue 02-Jun-15 20:45:49

Usually at 1 minute past midnight. And then it crashes and crashes and crashes, because thousands of anxious 6th formers are refreshing every 5 seconds grin

MissDemelzaCarne Tue 02-Jun-15 20:59:18

That'll be annoying!

traceyinrosso70 Tue 02-Jun-15 21:23:09

Our experience after staying up nearly all night was that Track was updated about 6.45 am just before the 7am they quoted - as the mum who didn't sleep all night (DD did !) as I wanted to be up when she logged on my advice is get some sleep and perhaps get up at 6.30 but don't lose sleep - I felt shocking on results day and wanted to celebrate with her but just wanted to go to bed !!

WhatIActuallySaid Wed 03-Jun-15 20:25:02

It's going to be an interesting year.

As expected there have been a significant increase in applications to some courses such as Computer science (11% increase over last year) and a decline in others such as medicine. (10% decrease over last year) but I think the increasing rates at which predicted grades are being over predicted is going to become more significant - perhaps not to the very top Unis but to other universities.

With the increase in unconditional offers being made to candidates who are yet to sit their exams I imagine there is even more pressure this year for teachers to over predict.

It all adds to the uncertainty and stress. I think they should switch to a system where all students apply after they have their results. Bit would take a bit of re jigging but just think how much better and fairer it would be

BTW I'm curious why there has been a drop in medicine applicants - 10% is quite a big drop.

Husbanddoestheironing Wed 03-Jun-15 20:34:00

With predicted grades like that I'm sure that he will get high enough grades so that if he doesn't get his preferred or insurance place there will be plenty of options in clearing. Use the newspaper university guides to look at potential other options while your son is revising- look for universities with slightly less demanding grade offers but a really good research base, feedback on teaching /student experience and good employment stats. many of the non-Russell group establishments are prepared to work very hard at developing student potential, and will have all sorts of good (world-class) research experience opportunities/good careers support for students who excel in their cohort, which can be just as helpful later. Good luck

Bronwen11 Wed 03-Jun-15 23:19:32

Many thanks, all, for your replies. I'm very grateful to you.

Kez - thank you. I relayed your point about DS' control of his revision to him and I think he got it. I've heard nothing from him about phoning unis since then and although his revision is still patchy, I think he's decided to get on with it.

UptheChimeny - I think you're spot on. There are alternatives to university and some of them are becoming increasingly viable and attractive. I also take your point about the pressure that Admissions Tutors are currently under and the fact that there's very little, if anything, that anyone of them could tell DS before the results are out.

Spinoa - I think you're right about the cap. But I guess that for science (and no doubt other subjects), limited numbers of labs/lab spaces may mean that not very many more students than would previously have been admitted will be. I recall one of the tutors saying something along those lines at an open day.

Tracey - I remember results day, too! DS's brother didn't get his first choice - was disconsolate - but his second has turned out to be fabulous. In fact, he's about to graduate with a Masters from there and, after 4 years in what he thought would be an incredibly dull backwater, he doesn't want to leave. It's very much a second home now.

WhatIactuallysaid - I've wondered, too, about over prediction. At DS' school, it seems that the predicted grades are more or less negotiated with the students - quite nice and laid back in a way but perhaps not a particularly reliable exercise.

Husband - I agree - we've just seen Coventry do very well (Guardian/THES tables?) on account, apparently, of its staff-student ratios and student support. Teacher/student relationships and employment stats are very important and, certainly, to be taken into account if, as may be the case, DS doesn't get his first and insurance choices. They're demanding high grades and recent mocks/assessments suggest that DS may not get them. Again, over predicting may not have done him much good in the long run.

Good luck to all our DCs wherever they are on this journey!

toothlessoldhag Sat 13-Jun-15 09:12:36

Excuse me for butting in but I noticed WhatIActuallySaid said computer Science applications have gone up 10%. Has there been a commensurate rise in places? (DC wants to apply and I'm worried about how competitive it's going to be).

toothlessoldhag Sat 13-Jun-15 09:13:03

Sorry, 11%.

CMon Sat 13-Jun-15 10:13:54

I don't know about the numbers of applicant verses the number of places. The 11% increase is the figure quoted in the end UCAS end of March 2015 applicant figures. I'm not quite sure how they classify computer science and whether they include IT type courses in with the more maths based courses. They used to lump everything to do with computers into one big group which didn't really make sense as the courses were so varied.

There is another group called 'technologies' so maybe they have separated the IT type courses and included them in this group. I really don't know. confused

If your son has already applied then he could call the unis and ask - if he is lucky he might get some feedback. If he is yet to apply then it's something he could ask at opendays.

toothlessoldhag Sat 13-Jun-15 13:42:57

Ah thanks for that. That's a useful question for the open days.

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