Exam Results | What's Next?

Exam Results | What's Next?

Results day is drawing near, whether you’re confident or worried you need to think about what your next step is going to be. The 3 main options for you to consider are:

  • Head to University
  • Enter Employment
  • Travel and Explore

We’ll look at each of these options later, but primarily and most importantly: exam results aren’t the be all and end all for you.

If you get the results you need or expected you probably already have a plan in place of what you’re going to do next, what’s more difficult, is when you’re left disappointed with your results.

Imagine it’s results day, you collect your results and open the envelope, unfortunately, you don’t get the results you expected or your results are no longer good enough for the degree or course you were planning on doing, DISASTER… Or not.

Firstly, DON’T PANIC!! It’s easy to panic and make snap decisions, but don’t rush into a decision you may regret later. Take time to process that your plans will have to change, think about what your options are, whether that’s how you plan to still stick to your original goal or if you decide to change your goal and plans altogether.

Let’s look at what you can do if you still want to stick to your original goal. If your results are only slightly shy of what you need, you can always re-sit your exam to see if you can scrape those extra few points that would make all the difference.

If you know yourself that a re-sit won’t help, you need to consider other options that will aid you in getting yourself where you need to be. One option is to stick with education and find a further education college that are holding courses that relate to your goal.

For example: You missed out on a place for an Engineering Degree in University due to your grades, further education colleges have courses that you could enrol in to further boost your UCAS points, here are a few options*:


Entry Requirements

L2 First Diploma – Engineering

4 GCSE’s grade D or above

L3 BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Engineering

4 GCSE’s grade C or above incl. 1 STEM subject

Access Diploma in Foundation Studies Engineering

GCSE Math (B or above) English (C or above)

City & Guilds L2 Diploma in Engineering

5 GCSE’s incl. Math & English (D or above)

Edexcel L3 BTEC Diploma – Aeronautical Engineering

4 GCSE’s grade C or above

Edexcel L3 BTEC Extended Diploma – Manufacturing Engineering

20 points at GCSE incl. Math (B or above) and English (C or above)

*Correct at time of writing in Northern Ireland

Another option is UCAS Clearing, this is a tool that amalgamates information from University websites, where they publish a list of courses which have places that still need filled. Using this tool you may be able to find a university course close to what you had intended to enrol in but with lower entry requirements.

Right, now it’s time to think positively, imagine it’s results day again, only this time you’ve opened your envelope and found your results are what you were expecting or needed. Yay! Well Done!

So what to do now? Head to uni? Go straight into work? Or go travelling and explore the world? It’s decision time.

Heading To University

You’ve got your results, you’ve got a place at the university you wanted, doing the course you wanted. What can you do during your studies to improve your employability later?

Firstly, as recruiters we would recommend you choose a degree that is relevant to the career path you wish to follow. This is because many of our clients are looking for candidates with a relevant degree to the role or sector in which they work. So try not to choose an Art degree when you really want to work in HR!

Secondly, while studying it’s a great idea to try and get working experience in the field of your degree/career path. This will help when you finish and move into the world of work. Many clients find it desirable that their applicants have previous working experience. It can be hard to balance studying with working but in the long run it is advantageous!

Finally, joining relevant societies, attending relevant conferences and seminars are a great way to get a wider grasp of the sector and get up to date outlooks on the marketplace.

Entering the World of Work

So you’ve decided you’ve had enough of school/ education/ studying and want to start working - earning your own money.

However, before you start applying for jobs you need to ask yourself a couple of important questions. The answers to these simple questions may help shape your plans for the future and help you realise what you are looking for:

  • What are your professional and personal interests?
  • What type of company would you prefer to work in (multinational, family owned, etc.) and what type of employment (for example: contract or temporary roles are a great way of building experience) would suit you?
  • How important is it for you to be employed within a specific geographic region and what job opportunities does this provide you?
  • Do you feel capable of establishing a business for yourself?
  • Are you interested in working abroad?
  • And what are you willing to sacrifice for your career?

Before you go to apply for any jobs, you will need a CV (aka Curriculum Vitae). The words Curriculum Vitae literally mean “story of your life”. Your CV is a summary of your skills, accomplishments, experiences and education, designed to capture a prospective employer’s interest. If you don’t have a CV and have no idea where to start you can take a look at our CV Guide which will outline what all you need to include. You can also find some hints and tips on our Facebook page.

Next, get yourself registered with your local Grafton Recruitment branch (no need to go anywhere else, cause we’re awesome!). We have 100’s of live jobs that are updated daily, covering all of Northern Ireland. You should search job ads, monitor company websites and ensure you tailor/amend your CV to job you’re applying for.  Make sure to detail out all of your previous experience and highlight any transferable skills you have.

Travelling and Exploring the World

You may decide that you fancy taking a break from education or you don’t want to head straight into employment and instead decide to go travelling. They say travel broadens the mind, but much more than that it can give you skills that you can use in the future. Independent travel can demonstrate to future employers your ability to organise, prioritise and manage a budget.

You can also team travelling with getting work experience that will tie in with your career path. A working holiday can help you decide whether it’s actually the right choice for you, give you working knowledge of that sector before you start university or just give you experience for your CV when applying for jobs. Medicine, teaching, PR and construction are some of the roles that you can easily step into during a working holiday.  

Whilst travelling, it is inevitable you will meet new people and new people can mean potential opportunities. You never know who you may meet whilst travelling or where they will end up. Making new friends and keeping in touch through social media networks, e.g. LinkedIn connections, can really benefit you when it comes to finding a job, whether that be whilst travelling or later in life.

So, whatever your results and whatever you decide to do; don’t panic, make informed decisions and make sure it’s the right choice for you!