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If you failed your A levels and didn’t get into university you’d be forgiven for starting to panic. But there’s no need to worry, there are plenty of other options to help you achieve your dream career. University isn’t the only pathway to success. There are numerous training schemes available for 18-year-olds who didn’t get the grades they expected.

What are your options after failing A Levels? 

While the most obvious answers are to resit your A levels or go through UCAS clearing, they’re not your only options. After 13 years of education you may have had enough of classroom-based study. That’s why we’ve put together a guide of alternatives for those who’ve failed A levels. Read on now and find out the best alternative entry routes to employment.

1. Apprenticeships

The government have backed apprenticeships recently and there are plenty reasons as to why. Many business owners see incredible value in apprenticeships because they help apprentices develop work related skills alongside academic knowledge.

If you didn’t get the A levels you expected, you may be better suited to an apprenticeship. For example, if you applied for a university course in accounting that required three B’s, but you only got three C’s, you could opt for an accountancy apprenticeship instead. Most Level 3 apprenticeships require A levels at C-grade but there are plenty who’ll consider alternative experience.

If you completely failed your A levels or didn’t even sit the exams, there are still apprenticeships you can take advantage of. You’ll most likely have to start on a Level 2 apprenticeship. These are a great entry point to a career and will usually lead on to higher levels. Apprenticeships now run all the way up to level 7 and are therefore a great choice for those who have struggled to get past their sixth-form exams.

What’s more, you’ll also get a wage and not have to shell out on expensive fees. That’s because apprenticeships are funded and have strict regulations. The current minimum wage for an apprentice is £3.90 an hour and this will usually increase as you progress through the different apprenticeship levels.

2. Internships & Work Experience

Similar to apprenticeships, an internship is a great first step to your dream career if you’ve failed your A levels. Many internships are aimed at graduates, however, there are some businesses who offer internships to those with lesser qualifications. If your industry of choice seems to be thin on the ground for internships after GCSE or A level, consider finding a local company and asking for work experience. This can often lead to further opportunities. For example, if you acquit yourself well, there may be the chance you get offered an apprentice position or a role with funded online learning. These are great steps to future careers and are more common than you’d think.

3. Distance Learning

Despite being a relatively new phenomenon, there are plenty of distance learning courses which are high quality and valued by employers. They feature a number of benefits that traditional education can’t offer. Look out for accredited courses as these are the ones which employers will value most.
Often, you’ll also be able to double up distance learning with an entry level job and get your employer to fund the course. So, if you’re already working after failing your A levels but want to continue learning, consider pitching an online course by AVADO to your employer. You’d be forgiven for thinking this a little presumptuous, however business owners are often impressed by those who take the front foot. What’s more, it’ll show you’re keen to learn and help drive the business forward. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no. You’ll also have opened up the door for talks around progression. If required, we can provide you with the materials to pitch one of our distance learning courses to your employer. Get in touch to find out more from a Course Advisor.

Considering distance learning? Check out our online courses in HR & L&D.

Top tips for those who’ve failed A levels

It may feel like the end of the world if you don’t get the grades you expected on A level results day. To avoid feeling overly disappointed, consider the following tips for those who’ve failed A levels:

  • Go into A level results day with a Plan B, whether that’s an apprenticeship, application or considering UCAS clearing.
  • Be realistic with your grade expectations – don’t expect a high grade if your mock exams and coursework were not at that standard.
  • Take social media posts with a pinch of salt. People have a tendency to overemphasise their success online.
  • Take a breath – There are plenty of other routes you can take other than university. You have plenty of time to work out what you want to do.


Failing your A levels can feel like a dead end, but there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. There are numerous options available to you after failing exams from apprenticeships to entry level jobs, resits to distance learning. The key thing is to stay calm, have a plan B and know you still have a bright future ahead of you.

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