A-LEVEL results day 2021 has seen teens across the country finally find out if they are heading to university in September.
But decoding all the jargon – unconditional, conditional, unsuccessful and withdrawn – can be a little troubling.
Students at North Bromsgrove High School in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, share their A-Level results with familyCredit: Alamy
What do unconditional, conditional and unsuccessful university offers mean?
A conditional offer means you still need to meet certain requirements – usually specific exam results.
For example, this could be that a student needs to achieve ABB to be accepted onto a specific course at a particularly university.
Certain courses may also be required – for example, an A in chemistry and at least two other sciences or mathematics.
Conditional offers can also be made for a certain number of UCAS Tariff points, including BTECs, as well as International Baccalaureate Diploma and Scottish Higher grades.
An unconditional offer means you’ve already met the entry requirements so the place is yours if you want it, although there might still be a few things to arrange.
For example, to begin the course you might need to get a DBS or PVG check or meet some financial or medical requirements.
An unsuccessful application means the university has chosen not to offer you a place, while a withdrawn choice means a course has been withdrawn by either you or the university or college.
UCAS says: “Don’t worry if you don’t get any offers though – you might be able to add extra choices now, or look for course availability later on.”
How does the UCAS points calculator work and is a D or an E grade a pass?
The UCAS points calculator is a really helpful way of working out how many points you accumulated across your exams.
All you have to do is enter the qualifications, subjects and grades you got – and it does the rest.
Grades A* to E are all passes but receive a different UCAS Tariff.
When you upload your grades to the website, it will assign each grade a certain number of points – these are your UCAS Tariff points.
Some universities and colleges use these in their entry requirements, so you may need to know how many points your qualifications are worth.
The grade boundaries are different with each exam board.
When does UCAS Track open?
You can track your application by signing up to UCAS Track here.
But contrary to popular belief, it does not update at midnight.
The service actually updates from 8.30am on A-level results day, which is August 10, 2021.
This is shortly after results are made available by schools and colleges across the country.
If you check Track and it says your place is “unconditional” then well done, you’ve been accepted.
The system doesn’t show your exact A-Level grades, instead simply telling you whether your application has been successful.
A university or college might offer you an alternative. This could be “a changed course offer” which you’ll need to accept or decline.
What are the A-level grade boundaries?
A-Level grade boundaries determine the minimum mark a student needs to achieve a certain grade.
They change for every subject, and every year.
The Uniform Mark Scale is used to smooth out any variations in levels of difficulty of exams and coursework.
If you had a relatively low score on an extremely tough exam, the UMS counterbalances it so you end up with a score that’s relative to how hard your exam was.
This ensures that results are comparable between exam series and subjects.
But there were no A-Level exams this year due to the pandemic so there are no grade boundaries.
Instead, teachers determined student results based on mock exams, coursework or other work completed as part of a pupil’s course, such as essays or in-class tests.