A-level retakes and resits

student revising

Your A-level results are not quite what you hoped for and you're thinking about resitting. Here's the advice you need

Many students find themselves in exactly the same boat as you so no need to panic. We're here to walk you through the process of resits and explain how they can get you into your dream university.

Why would retaking my A-levels be a good idea?

  • If you didn’t get the grades to achieve your conditional offer;
  • If you’ve looked through Clearing and there’s nothing suitable for you;
  • If you're committed to going to university and don’t want to enter into full-time work or an apprenticeship.

Not sure about whether uni is best for you? Get some advice here.

Where can I retake my A-levels? 

First things first, you need to check with your school or college to see whether you can retake the exam there. Unfortunately, not all schools offer this option so if that is the case or if you would prefer a break from school, then check other local colleges. Another route is to enrol into an independent college such as one belonging to the CIFE (Council for Independent Education) group. CIFE colleges offer intensely focused courses including one-to-one tuition.

Who can retake A-levels?

Anyone, but you can only resit your chosen exam/s once. Again, it's worth double checking whether your school or college allow A-level resits.

Do I have to retake a whole A-level? 

In most cases. A-levels have moved to the linear system, which means you have to resit all the exams again. You will then end up with two grades – one for your original performance and one for the resit. Check with your teachers to find out what's best for you.

When can I retake my A-levels? 

A-level exams are sat once per year in the summer. You can enrol at a school or college to retake the exams for the following year. Try your own school first, they may have a retake option for students.

How do I go about retaking my A-levels?

Ring up and ask your school or college whether you can sit an A-level the following summer. If they don’t allow retakes then research schools and colleges in the local area, ring them and explain the situation.

If you take your resits at a centre that is not your school or college then you will need to give the exams officer your candidate details from the previous exam centre. These should be on your exam slip.

How much will retakes cost?

If you're retaking your A-levels at school or college, you may have to pay a fee.

If you’re confident about your abilities and want to follow the route of self-study it is possible to apply as an external candidate. You will sit the exam without having any further formal study. Sitting an exam in this way can be expensive so do check the cost in advance.

Do I have to retake the whole course? 

It’s up to you whether you choose to repeat the whole course or simply retake the exams along with any non-examined assessment, revising independently. Both are options that you should think about carefully with your exam results in mind.

For some subjects it might be possible to use the same non-examined assessment. You will need to check this.

Will I get into a good university with my resit A-level grades? 

Almost all universities accept A-level resits, however, they may expect you to account for your resit with an explanation. Taking another year to study and complete your A-levels shows commitment and an ability for independent study which many universities respect. Offers for resit students can be slightly higher however.

Are you doing any resits this year? Did resitting an exam help you get into your preferred university? Join in the discussion below.


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