Editor's note

It’s A-level results day and thousands of young people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have finally found out how their exams went. They may well be crying with tears of joy or disappointment, but whatever might be next for these young people, one fact remains, students from less advantaged backgrounds are massively underrepresented at Britain’s top universities. This is particularly pronounced on highly competitive courses such as medicine – where 80% of students come from just 20% of the country’s secondary schools. For Paul Tiffin, Lewis Paton and Lazaro Mwakesi Mwandigha, the answer lies in lower university entry grades for disadvantaged students. They also look to the US where “affirmative action” policies have been used to encourage ethnic diversity within some universities.

Back in the UK, many students are now facing the prospect of clearing. But as well as having phones at the ready and league tables to hand, Elvira Ismagilova and Daniele Doneddu explain why savvy students will also be turning to social media to find those university offers. If you know anyone applying for last-minute university places, you might want to point them in the direction of our handy guide, which gives students some insider tips on how to tackle the clearing scrum – based on analysis by Elizabeth Stokoe and Elliott Hoey.

Over the next few weeks we’ll no doubt also hear about students who are appealing their grades because of “inaccurate marking”. Velda Elliott reveals what it’s really like to mark a GCSE or A-level exam paper and why despite the headlines, the actual likelihood of a marker getting it totally wrong is actually pretty low. And what about those students who don’t take A-levels? The International Baccalaureate (IB) is increasing in popularity and new research shows it could actually make for a more well-rounded student. Shona McIntosh compares the two courses of study and explains why extracurricular activities are a big part of the appeal of the IB.

And for those students (and parents) who are still worrying about what happens next, you might just be in need of some “cognitive restructuring”. Constantine Mantis explains the ins and outs of the stress relief technique that can help to fix your negative thoughts. Or maybe mindfulness is more your thing? Even if it’s not, it might be worth a try, says Julieta Galante, as it can help us with difficult decision making – particularly when it comes to important things like exam results and life choices.

Holly Squire

Commissioning Editor


A-level results: should universities lower entry grades for disadvantaged students?

Paul Tiffin, University of York; Lazaro Mwakesi Mwandigha, Imperial College London; Lewis Paton, University of York

Research shows that 80% of medical students come from just 20% of the UK's secondary schools.

Students take part in the colour run, as part of of the International Baccalaureate.

A-levels vs the International Baccalaureate: which makes a more rounded student?

Shona McIntosh, University of Bath

Does the International Baccalaureate make for a better rounded education for students?

Pakawat Suwannaket/Shutterstock

What it’s really like to mark a GCSE or A-level exam

Velda Elliott, University of Oxford

Is there such a thing as a mean marker?


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