Student advice line The Exam Results Helpline has handled thousands of calls since A-level results day and is bracing for another surge on GCSE results day .
The 40 experts who make up The Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000 are a lifeline for students whose grades are higher or lower than expected and need to rethink their futures.
The Exam Results Helpline, an independent and free service funded by the Department for Education, opened on August 16th and runs until August 25th.
ERH advisors, who answered 11,000 calls last year, say most questions are about re-sits, re-marks, university or college courses, apprenticeships, NVQs, HNDs, diplomas, finding employment, setting up in business, moving away from home and gap years.
Each is fully trained with at least five years' experience as a professional careers advisor.
Calls are free from landlines but charges vary from mobile phones or other networks.
More information, including videos of students who did not get their grades, can be found on the Exam Results Helpline website, www.ucas.com/examresultshelpline
Careers advisor Sarah Bull said:
"The main message we are giving to students is that if they haven't or don't get the results you expected, don't get stressed.
"Get plenty of information by talking to us, your teachers, or school careers adviser and don't rush into anything.
"Take your time before deciding what to do next.
"It's particularly important that students get good advice about the range of options available to them after GCSEs.
"Taking A-levels is not for everyone.
"It may be that an apprenticeship or a BTEC is a much more suitable option - giving the opportunity to gain employability skills, achieve a qualification and potentially earn a wage at the same time.
"The bottom line is that each student must decide what is right for them."
There are many options available to youngsters and adults after getting their GCSE results, including A-Levels, vocational courses, apprenticeships or work.
If your results are not as good as you wanted you can also choose to resit individual units (although there are time limits and some are not available in January). The awarding body will count the higher mark from your two attempts.
If you think something may have gone wrong with marking your exam, your school or college can ask for a re-mark or recount. You also have the right to request your marked exam script. If you are still unhappy, your school or college can appeal to the awarding body, and then finally, if necessary, to the independent Examinations Appeals Board.
Below is a list of options of what to do once you have your GCSE results. You can choose to take up any of these options immediately or take a break from education and come back to it at a later date.
An A-Level is made up of an AS-Level qualification and an A2-Level qualification, both accounting for 50% of the overall A-Level.
Most people study 4 AS-Levels, then drop one course to have 3 A-Levels by the end of the two years.
You can study for A-Levels full or part-time and they are available in a wide range of courses from academic courses to more work related courses. A range of courses will be available at your local schools or colleges, but not every A-Level course is held at every school or college, so find out before you apply.
An A-Level is a level 3 on the National Qualifications Framework. The framework shows how different types of qualifications compare. You can see more about the framework here.
In most cases, you need at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C. Sometimes, you need a grade B or above at GCSE in a particular subject to take it at AS or A level. Some schools and colleges also ask that you have GCSE grade C or above in English and maths. Always ask your local school or college what their requirements are for each course of A-Level you want to study.
For advice on AS, A levels and other qualifications for 13 to 19 year olds, contact the Careers Helpline for Young People: 080 800 13 2 19
Get advice about qualifications for adult learners from Next Step: 0800 100 900
Designed in partnership with employers and universities, the Diploma can lead on to further study or to work.
The Diploma involves practical, hands-on experience as well as classroom learning. It’s a combination aimed at encouraging students to develop work-relevant skills - along with their abilities in English, maths and ICT - in a creative and enjoyable way.
Students will be based in their own school or college, but may get the opportunity to learn in a different setting - another school, a local college, or in the workplace. They’ll get an insight into what work is really like, helping them make decisions about the future while keeping their career options open.
The Diploma is flexible, so students can combine it with A-Levels.
If you’ve got a good idea of where you want to go with your career and like the idea of earning while you learn, an Apprenticeship could be for you. You’ll get top quality training, developing skills and gaining qualifications on the job.
Apprenticeships are paid jobs which give you the chance to learn - and gain nationally recognised qualifications - while getting a weekly wage.
Apprenticeships are available in more than 190 roles across a wide variety of industry sectors. These range from accountancy and business administration to construction, engineering, manufacturing - and many more.
Generally, an Apprenticeship takes between one and four years to complete. For example, an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Engineering may take four years to complete.
Apprenticeships are available in almost 250 job roles across a wide variety of industry sectors. They range from accountancy and business administration to construction, engineering, manufacturing - and many more.
Apprenticeships (and Advanced Apprenticeships) can lead to:
- a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) at Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5
- a Key Skills qualification, like problem solving and using technology
- (in most cases) a technical certificate, such as a BTEC or City & Guilds Progression Award
- other qualifications needed for particular occupations
- for higher Apprenticeships knowledge-based qualification such as an HNC, HND or Foundation degree
You may decide that further education is not for you.
In that case you can think about what career you might want and apply for positions.