Everywhere you look, you read about “A -Level results day nearly here” or "SQA results out next week".

As if you need reminding; it’s been there in the back of your mind since the exams, especially the thought that you may have done a bit better than expected.

That’s great news because UCAS Adjustment can really come into its own to help you.

Results day arrives, (after you’ve been awake all night thinking about what your results may be) and the AAB grades you gain are better than the BBB grades you needed for your firm offer choice at university. 

After the initial “wowzer, that’s amazing” and instagramming your mates with celebratory pictures, you realise that with these results you could have got a place at your dream university but you never applied as you didn’t believe you’d achieve the grades they needed.

However, all this can change by going through UCAS Adjustment.

What is UCAS Adjustment and how can it help me?

UCAS Adjustment allows students that have done better than expected in their exams to look into attending a better university.

You could also consider applying somewhere that may have previously rejected you, or enrolling on a course that required grades you were not predicted to achieve, and now have.

Who can use it?

If you have exceeded the grade requirements for your firm university offer and are interested in setting your sights on a higher ranked establishment or more prestigious course, then Adjustment could be for you.

Please bear in mind that Adjustment is in no way compulsory.

If you do better than you had hoped in your exams, but are happy with your original choice, that’s fine. You can just go where you had always planned.

When does Adjustment happen?

If you have exceeded all your grades on your firm offer, you can apply for an Adjustment up to 31 August.

Adjustment isn't open for very long, so you have to be on the ball. Although it runs from A-level results day until August 31st, you are only given five days to find an alternative course or university from the time you register in Track.

This means the sooner you register, the more likely you are to get a place at a university you really want.

It's important to realise that you don't have to exceed all your grades, so if you were offered a place on BBB grades, you can apply for an Adjustment if you got ABB (but not if you got AAC grades, as although the AA grades are better than your BB grades, the C isn’t). 

Unlike Clearing there is no actual hotline you can call or course list of vacancies available for your better grades.

Instead you just need to contact the admissions team at the university directly, to see if there is still a place available on your ideal course. If there is, then you can apply via UCAS Adjustment to change over. 

You can find lots more really useful information over at UCAS.com.

What about my current offer?

Don't worry - you won't lose your current place.

One of the best things about Adjustment is the security it offers to university applicants.

If you manage to find a new university or course that you prefer, you can apply; however, if you’re unable to secure a suitable alternative within your five day Adjustment window, you'll still retain your place on your original course.

How do I apply?

Be sure to register for Adjustment via UCAS Track so universities are able view your application.

Next, phone the university you are interested in attending (regardless of whether you have previously applied to them or not) and let them know that you’ve exceeded your expected results and are keen to enrol with them through Adjustment.

Find out if there are any available vacancies, and if not, keep looking.

Don't waste time on phone calls, since unlike Clearing, there is no list of participating universities in Adjustment.

It could take a while to find something suitable, but take your time, and it's possible something will come up.

If you’re offered a place and are happy to take it, Track will be updated with your new course choice.

Before deciding to use UCAS Adjustment

  • Will your dream course still have vacancies and does the university support UCAS Adjustment?
  • If you swap over from your existing firm offer will you still have to find accommodation with the new university? Ask the new university what’s still available. 
  • If your existing course had given you extra bursaries, grants, additional financial support etc, will your new course offer these and if not, can you afford to lose them?
  • Talk to people on your new course (online forums, social media, student union etc.) just to find out what it’s really like on that course.
  • Ask the university if you can talk to other students there who came via UCAS Adjustment so you can get a feel about how they were welcomed.
  • Ask your existing school or college if they’ve had other students go through UCAS Adjustment last year and what advice they can give you.
  • You can only have one Adjustment offer, so as we've alreadt mentioned, you must really be 100% sure before you make the Adjustment and accept the new offer.

Any other advice?

Adjustment may be an excellent option for some people, but not for others. No matter how prepared you are, university is still a new experience for all school and college leavers.

This means if you want to undo all the planning and research you’ve already done around one institution, make sure it’s a decision you won’t end up regretting.

A university ranked slightly higher than another in the league tables doesn’t immediately make it the better choice for you, and you’ll have to be ready to sort out new accommodation, bursaries, grants and anything else you need.

Courses often differ greatly from institution to institution, so don’t assume your degree syllabus at your new university will be exactly the same as the one you liked at your original choice.

Most importantly, don’t feel pressured to go into Adjustment if it isn’t the right step for you. It can be frustrating for those who get their hopes up about attending a seemingly superior university only to be very disappointed if they don’t find what they were looking for.

Adjustment is a brilliant service from UCAS and can really help make a fantastic difference to your university experience.

Good Luck for A-Level Results day - we're sure you’ve done brilliantly, and Happy Adjustmenting!

Further information

For more tips and advice about A-level results day and starting university, please see: