Results day

Date: 14/08/2003

Good results, but not good enough to go to Oxford or UCL

One of the most important days in my diary, the day I found out what I got in my A-levels, and which university (if any) of my two choices I was going to. Just to recap, the A-levels I was taking were economics, maths physics and an AS in further maths. I was only doing one module (Edexcel pure 4) for the further maths but the rest of my subjects were full A2s. So far I had received 2As (in economics and physics) and 1 B (in maths) at AS. I had also received full marks on my economics coursework, so didn't think I could do too badly overall. I was predicting myself to get somewhere between BBB and AAA at A-level but didn't want to be too optimistic.

At 10AM I trooped down to the school, milled around and talked to my friends a bit before queuing up to receive my results. I thought I would try to read through my results carefully and try not to misread anything rather than pulling them straight out of the envelope in a rush to read them. My school provides the results in an open envelope so there was no need to rip it open or anything like that.

My results were listed on two statements of results, one for each of the exam boards. The first one I pulled out of the envelope was the AQA statement of results, the only subject I had taken with AQA was economics. Because of this the statement was very uncluttered and easy to read so it took me only a couple of seconds to see I had received an A. The Edexcel statement was more complex as it firstly listed all the units I had taken that year, then listed the qualifications I had gained, including units from last year. Scanning down the list I found I had got an A in physics, a B in maths and a C in further maths AS. Overall this gave me AAB. Not enough to get into Oxford or UCL (whose offer was ABB but the A had to be in maths). At this stage I wasn't to worried, as I thought either Oxford or UCL would accept me with only one grade down.

When I got home, the first thing I did after showing my parents the results, was get on the phone to Oxford. The first time I got through to Pembroke I got through to the admissions secretary and told them the story. What I basically said was I had been made an offer by Pembroke but didn't make the grade and would they consider still taking me. The reply I got was that for some reason Pembroke did not have a copy of my results, and could I repeat them down the phone. This I did, but they said they could still not tell me if I could have a place or not, they would have to verify my results with the school first and then they would get back to me.

I waited for an hour or so and tried to phone again but this time it was engaged. I tried a couple more times before deciding to phone my second choice (UCL) and see if they would offer me a place, so at least I would have something to fall back on. Like Pembroke, UCL's clearing line was engaged when I tried to phone. After a couple of attempts I gave up and just tried phoning Pembroke every hour or so. At around 4PM I got a call back from Pembroke, they had received my results, and told me they were sorry, but due to the fact I hadn't got the grades, they were unable to offer me a place. I thanked them, hung up and got back on the phone to UCL.

It took me a few times to get through to UCL, but when I repeated my story to them (leaving out that I hadn't heard anything from Oxford) I was told they were unable to offer me a place on my chosen course, but they might have some places on other courses if I phoned back later. So now, even though I had good results, both my choice of universities had turned me down. I now had to decide what to do next year and had two main options: either apply again next year, or go into clearing.