A-level results U-turn: relieved and bored students

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Grade A students in England will be given grades estimated by their teachers, rather than an algorithm, after a government U-turn. Here are some reactions from those who, in the midst of the confusion, are still unsure whether they have lost their place in college.

‘It should have happened last week’

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Emily King

Emily King does not feel much better about the government’s decision, because “not much has changed”.

The 18-year-old from Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, says she was demoted from C to U in A-level biology last week “really shook my confidence” – and meant she was kicked out of the University of Lincoln, where she had an offer to study midwifery.

Emily has emailed the university since the government announcement, but still doesn’t know if she’s there or not. She has no other offers so will have to face a year and will apply again next year if Lincoln says no. “I would have to start the whole interview process over again, which takes a lot of time and a lot of money,” she says.

Emily says she didn’t find much comfort in being given the expected grades. “I’ll always know I got a U. And I know I didn’t deserve that rating,” she says.

“I’m pretty happy [about the U-turn] but also a little bored. It should have happened last week. Or even a month ago. ”

‘It was horrible’

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Josh Reid

Like Emily, Josh Reid Also repeatedly updates his inbox for email confirmation – but was told there would be a place for him to study theology at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford – as per his offer initial – once he has submitted the grades assessed by his teacher.

“I’m just over the moon. These few days have been just horrible in terms of stress and anxiety, just trying to work it out. Just to finally get confirmation that our grades are going to change – it’s such a relief, ”he says.

The 19-year-old, from Woking, says it was “frustrating” and “heartbreaking” to be demoted last week. “I was so furious that I got these marks which in no way represented the work I had done for the past two years.

Although his place is more or less secure, Josh’s anger did not subside. He says the government has had months to find an alternative way to grade students whose exams have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“They had five or six months to do it, and to get it wrong – it puts so much stress on the students. And [the confusion] really just showed that, for some reason, students weren’t the priority. “

‘I still feel a bit disappointed’

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Zainab Ali

“I am relieved but quite frustrated at the same time. It is too late ”, says Zainab Ali, 18, from London, minutes after hearing about the U-turn.

Zainab’s predicted grades were an A * in history, an A in psychology, and a C in chemistry. But after receiving an A, B and D on results day last week, she lost her place to study psychology at Queen Mary University in London – and she was told the course was full.

“I am faced with the consequences of the indecisiveness of those responsible,” Zainab said.

She had accepted the fact that she was going to her second choice, University of Westminster, instead – but still feels frustrated because she had “always wanted” to go to Queen Mary’s since she was a child. “It’s just a very dynamic environment and I really admired that. I automatically fell in love, ”she says.

After speaking on the BBC for the first time, Zainab said Queen Mary decided to offer her a seat. The university said Monday evening it was “deeply sympathetic” to all students affected by the U-turn, and that applicants with revised grades would be guaranteed a place if they met the conditions of their initial offer.

Even though she is now likely to get her first choice of college after all, Zainab says the past week has been a “horrible” and “confusing” experience. “I felt like I was really disappointed. Now [after the U-turn] it’s a little different, but i still feel a little disappointed after all of this. It was really, really stressful. ”

‘I can hold my head up high now’

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Connor Bragger

Connor Bragger, 18, from Redditch, received a BCD last Thursday and needed a BBB to take a journalism course in Sheffield. It has been predicted that ABB should, theoretically, be allowed to leave now.

But tonight he is disappointed to find that the phone lines at the University of Sheffield’s admissions office are closed – so despite the announcement, he is unsure if he will be there in September.

“Results day is [supposed to be] when you get answers – no more questions, ”says Connor.

His second choice is the University of Gloucestershire, where he has an unconditional offer. But now he has the notes for Sheffield, he hopes he can go.

Connor tries to stay positive and says he’s happy with the U-turn.

“There were two clubs that I was annoyed that I didn’t meet, which was making my first choice, and getting grades that I felt like I earned. So even though I can’t get into my top pick, I feel like I now have results that I have gained through my hard work all year round. So if everything doesn’t go as planned, I can always hold my head a little higher. ”

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Media captionA-level student Nina welcomes government turn-around meaning she can train to be a vet

Making the most of a “horrible” situation

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Sam Thier

Kath Burbidge’s son Sam Thier works a shift at B&Q near his home in Willsbridge, Bristol. At the same time, the 18-year-old is on the phone waiting for his turn to speak at Cardiff University. He wants to see if they’ll make room for him on the dentistry course he originally had an offer for, but he was rejected last week because his predicted grades of A * AA were downgraded to BBB.

“I cried for 48 hours and didn’t sleep after Thursday. I feel so sorry for him, ”says Kath. “He worked so hard on everything. ”

Sam’s A * in chemistry meant Cardiff offered him a place in their Masters in Chemistry course. He had just decided to accept it – and therefore gave his advice to B&Q – when the news came that his marks would be increased.

As she receives SMS updates from Sam (he’s now 20th in the queue), Kath wonders if he could accept the chemistry offer instead.

“He’s just trying to make the most of a horrible job that should never have happened. Will he think ‘I’m going to go do some chemistry now’, just because he’s sick of all this? “

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