Are you unhappy with your GCSE results?

Guy opening his GCSE results
Collecting your GCSE results is a nerve-wracking time; you'll probably find yourself surrounded by grinning mates who have aced their exams - but there's always likely to be a few people frowning over some less-than-ideal results.

If you find you're among them, you should find the following advice helpful as you plan your next move.

Have a read and then get advice on GCSE remarks and resits on any more specific questions. Good luck!

I haven't passed Maths/English Language!

These are definitely the most important subjects. The first thing to do if you find you haven't passed one or both of them is to speak immediately to the head of the sixth form or college that you wish to attend.

Most schools and colleges will offer classes to prepare you to retake these GCSEs or they will offer alternative courses. If classes are not available, it may be worth checking with other local colleges to see if they offer additional classes.

I don't have the grades I need for my college course!

Again, the best course of action is to speak to the head of the sixth form or college you have applied to. Many colleges give you an offer where you'll need certain grades to be able to enrol.

In some cases the entry requirements may be 'informal', and so you may be let onto the course regardless. However, please note that this does not always apply.

If you have missed your college requirements, there are a number of different paths you can take. You may retake one or more subjects to help boost your overall grade, or if you think there was an error with the marking of your paper you may apply for a remark.

I don't think further education is for me...

Guy opening his GCSE results
Not sure you fancy going into further education? If you decide to take an alternative route, there are a number of different options for you to explore.

You might settle for a vocational course (such as construction, childcare or engineering) rather than completing A-levels. Alternatively, you may want to go straight into the world of work and would rather get an apprenticeship or seek employment.

You can get some great advice on Apprenticeships and Careers and Employment in the forums.

What are retakes and remarks?

Retaking exams or getting your paper remarked are two methods to potentially improve a GCSE grade you're not happy with.

In the past, it used to be that you could retake only one modular exam. However, this will no longer be the case from now on due to the new 100% terminal rule. The new terminal rule states that to get a certificate in a subject, you must take all the exams in one sitting.

This means that, if you retake, you have to retake all the units in the next exam season in order to be awarded a new certificate in that subject.

The only exception to this are controlled assessments, where you can forward your controlled assessment mark from one exam season to the next.

GCSE exam retakes usually take place in the next available exam season. For most subjects, this will be next summer. For English and Maths, you will have an opportunity to retake in November 2016 (but this will be the last set of November resits).

A common question asked is: which retake mark will count? Due to the new terminal rule, you will receive more than one certificate and so will be perfectly entitled to say that you achieved whatever your highest grade was in the subject.

Results Hug
However, you will have to declare all marks to universities via UCAS as you will need to declare all certificates. If you choose to retake a controlled assessment, however, it will always be the retake mark that will count for the controlled assessment, even if it is lower than the original.

Remarks are available for a short period of time after you have received your GCSE results - please note however that once you have received a grade from a remark, it is final. Your original grade will not count, even if it is higher than the remark.

Does it matter which one I pick?

Whether or not you apply for a remark or to be entered for retake should depend on a number of different factors.

Opting for a remark is costly and may result in your mark going down as well as up. Also, the way remarks are conducted has now changed so that marks will only be adjusted if there is a 'significant error' by the original marker.

Because of this, remarks are best used when you feel you did much better in the exam than your mark suggests. The best advice is to discuss the remark option with your teacher before you commit to it.

So which one should I choose?

On phone deciding
It is hard to say which course of action is best if you aren't happy with your results. Your first port of call should be your subject teacher who will be able to give you the best advice possible. However, here are a few possible scenarios below along with the suggested actions:
  • I didn't perform as well as I could have done in my exams due to outside circumstances

    A retake is likely to be the best option for you, providing you feel that studying for the exam would not have a negative impact upon any other studies.

  • I found my original exam extremely difficult, and I didn't understand the content very well

    In this case it is especially important to speak to your subject teacher. They may advise you to focus on your other exams rather than retaking or they may be able to offer you extra sessions to prepare you for a resit.

Do I have to pay?

You usually have to pay a fee to either retake an exam or to have your paper remarked, although your centre may choose to pay these fees for you. The cost of retaking or remarking is dependent on the exam board in question, so you should speak to your examinations officer to make sure you have all of the information you need. You can find further information about fees direct from the exam boards at the following links:

Where can I get further information?

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has published its guide to post-results services valid for the June 2016, November 2016 and January 2017 exam seasons. It contains comprehensive information on the possible actions that can be taken once you have received your results and can be found on the JCQ post-results services page.

If you have any questions that have not been answered in this guide, please ask in the GCSEs forum where you should find your answers. Good luck!

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