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How To Resit Your GCSEs

close up of a have holding a pencil and marking answers on a multiple choice questions exam

If GCSE results day has not gone the way you envisaged or you feel that one or two of your grades are bringing down your average, there is always the option to resit them.

Whilst it is mandatory for students in England who have received below a 4 in English and Maths to resit these, for other subjects, it is entirely optional.

Here is a guide on how best to approach resitting a GCSE:


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Make Sure that Retaking a GCSE is the Right Step 

You may want to request to see your exam script. Ask your teacher to read it and advise whether the grade you were given reflects the work as they perceive it.

You may also want to ask a third-party (this could be another teacher in the department), who doesn’t know the grade you achieved, what grade they would have awarded it.

If they believe that you have been marked down, then your first step should be to apply for a remark. This typically takes 3-4 weeks, which will give you enough time to properly consider whether you do want to resit that subject.

You may also want to compare your grade with that of the nearest grade boundary. If you are at the upper end of one of the grades within 2-3% of a grade boundary, asking for a remark may be beneficial.

However, it is important to remember that a remark could result in your grade being lowered, so you should proceed with caution.

If you were planning on resitting anyway because your grade is several marks below what you believe it should have been, it still may be a good idea to apply for a remark.

Markers are human and can make mistakes. Whilst it is unlikely that your grade will rocket from a 4 to a 9, it is not unheard of, for grades to change from a 4 to a 6.

Therefore, if you are set on retaking and you are in a financial position where a remark is possible, take advantage of that. Remarks are charged per exam marked, and prices can vary starting from around £30.

Think about Whether a Resit is Necessary for Your Career Goals

If you had an offer from a sixth-form or college which was dependant on a certain set of GCSE grades, which you have missed, you should make an enquiry as to whether that institution would still accept you with your current grades – many will. Therefore, a resit may not be necessary.

You should also look at the subject you want to retake. Is this a subject which is important to your academic future going forward? Is it a subject which would be useful for a career in law, like English or history, for example?

If the subject you wish to retake is biology but your A-Level subjects are humanities-based for a preparation to study law at university, then it may not be necessary to resit that GCSE.

The last thing you should check is whether any universities you are looking to apply to have any GCSE requirements.

Whilst law university admissions tutors are generally relaxed about specifying necessary particular grades, there are a few universities and degrees, which are more science-based which prefer you to have high grades in maths, biology and chemistry.

Make Sure that Retaking a GCSE is practical

Ask your teachers to be completely honest with you. Do they genuinely believe that you have been marked down or that you have the ability to do better? If not, then it may not be a wise investment of your time to resit.

Work out whether you will have time to retake a GCSE. Whilst maths and English can be retaken in January, merely a few months after results day, you may have to wait until summer to resit other subjects.

Therefore, retaking a GCSE can become a long-term commitment. If you have decided to proceed with your A-Levels alongside retaking your GCSEs, this may prove problematic. You will have coursework and other academic deadlines.

Ask yourself whether you have the time and dedication to keep studying for a GCSE, alongside youre A-Level subjects.

If you plan to resit only one or two GCSEs, this is certainly possible with good time management. However, if you want to resit more than three GCSEs, it might be best to postpone your A-Levels.

Taking on too much at once may harm your A-Level grades which is undoubtedly worse for your UCAS application than a few disappointing GCSE grades.

If you decide that the time commitment of retaking a GCSE would put you at risk of lower predicted A-Level grades then you shouldn’t feel disheartened.

Instead, use this as motivation to excel during your sixth-form or college years.

Your GCSEs are only a small part of your application, and, if your A-Level predicted grades, personal statement, references and nationalised test (if applicable) are strong, a few poor GCSE grades will be overlooked.

Find out Whether You can Retake Your GCSEs at Your School

Whilst it is possible to retake your GCSEs at some schools, others do not allow this. Therefore, you may have to enrol to an external college or an online course in order to retake.

Usually, a google of your local colleges will reveal the best place for you to retake your GCSEs.

Furthermore, some schools will pay for you to retake your GCSEs but others require you or your parents to cover the cost or make a contribution.

Retake Your GCSE

After you have enrolled at your school or another local academic institution and paid (if necessary) for your retake, you need to actually do the work! Use this second chance to really excel!

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