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I'm going to fail my A-levels, I want to re-take in my gap year. Uni? Watch

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    I have established I am not going to perform well in my A-level exams (A2). I've battled both anxiety and depression these past two years and dwelled on getting any help for it, I am now starting to see a therapist which is helping me.

    I know anxiety and depression to some people sound like an excuse for not working hard, I felt that way myself until I experienced it, there were days this year where I felt so stuck inside myself I couldn't get up and get dressed to go to school. I'm thankful for the help I'm getting now.

    I just don't want to give up on myself yet in terms of education.I can't make up for all the lost hours this exam season, but I want to attend university, specifically a Russell group so I have planned to re-take everything in my gap year. This time, with the help I'm receiving I feel like I can do it.

    My question is, how would university see me? This will be my third year of A-levels, I won't be attending college or 6th form, it will be entirely from home and as a private candidate (which I feel is better, 6th form enhanced my anxiety and depression). Will I be seen as worthy of a place at a Russell group when I apply next year?

    Also, I'm completely serious about this, I am planning on starting my revision for all my subject again the day after I complete my last A-level exam. I really want to prove to myself I can do something, I don't want my mental health to inhibit me from actually achieving something in life.
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    I'm in a similar situation. Some unis care and some don't. I think its best if you email the ones you're thinking of applying to.
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    (Original post by RezzBerry)
    I'm in a similar situation. Some unis care and some don't. I think its best if you email the ones you're thinking of applying to.
    An awful situation

    I see.

    How are you feeling about re-taking in your gap year? Will you be working? I'm thinking of studying through summer, then working full-time until December (studying alongside working), then leaving to study from January to May/June.

    Also I want to apply for LLB Law so I will study for the LNAT too and take that after the following summer I think.
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    (Original post by TheHistoryphile)
    An awful situation

    I see.

    How are you feeling about re-taking in your gap year? Will you be working? I'm thinking of studying through summer, then working full-time until December (studying alongside working), then leaving to study from January to May/June.

    Also I want to apply for LLB Law so I will study for the LNAT too and take that after the following summer I think.

    I'll be working part time throughout. Probably will spend, anywhere from: 2-4 hours, a day, studying. My mother (along with other family members) aren't so keen on me taking a gap year tho, lol.

    I'll be applying for Computer Science at Warwick, preferably, since UoB doesn't like third-year students, I think.
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    (Original post by RezzBerry)
    I'll be working part time throughout. Probably will spend, anywhere from: 2-4 hours, a day, studying. My mother (along with other family members) aren't so keen on me taking a gap year tho, lol.

    I'll be applying for Computer Science at Warwick, preferably, since UoB doesn't like third-year students, I think.
    Nor are my parents.

    Oh okay, working part-time does make sense but I know I will have to leave closer to exams so that I can focus entirely on studying.

    Are you re-taking everything? and will you apply when you get your new A-level results? Or will you be applying with the ones you already have and mentioning you are re-taking?

    I will be applying with my new ones, I think I need the time anyway. That means I will be attending university in 2018, my mum isn't keen on that but I think I need the time.
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    Hey there, TheHistoryphile,

    I've taken a look around some university sites and newspaper articles; you seem smart so I'm sure this is all territory that you've already covered but I suppose it might be worth seeing if we both got the same impression at first glance. I'll stress that I'm not an admissions administrator or have any kind of competence in this; everything I say will be based on that search and what I've heard from my own inquiries in the past regarding admissions to Russell Group universities.

    It's really inspiring to see your level of dedication and commitment though!

    From what I understand based on my quick searches, retakes are generally permissible asides from subjects which focus on medicine, for which retakes are usually not accepted (I suppose these are subjects, after all, which require far more precision than others). Judging by your TSR alias, that shouldn't be too much of a worry for you :P

    There are some newspaper articles which seem to suggest that statistically, retake candidates are disadvantaged over candidates which have sat a test only once. I don't suppose this is too surprising, really, because retake candidates are probably usually considered to be those who have developed their academic commitment or ability later than others of their age (rather than, as is in your case, those with exceptional circumstances which justify the retakes). The question to focus on, in my view, is how much are you disadvantaged rather than whether you are disadvantaged, and even then these articles seem to focus on medical sciences. It might be worth waiting for your results before definitely considering what you'd like to do: if they're better than you expect and meet minimum grade requirements, you might only be disadvantaging yourself needlessly by resitting exams.

    I do vaguely recall being told at the University of Oxford that for certain subjects, tutors might prefer candidates who have taken a gap year if it has developed their cultural and subject understanding (I think History was cited as one of these subjects) - so if you do decide to take a gap year, it might be worth not only retaking your A-levels but also developing your interests in whatever subject(s) you choose to apply for at university, and perhaps even consider taking up a job related to the faculty. If you reflect your experiences on your personal statement when you apply next year, it might well improve your application considerably.

    I suppose this is another important point to remember: by my understanding, Russell Group universities (and especially Oxbridge) take A-levels as a formality and normally would make their assessment on you considering the amalgamation your personal statement, your references, your interview performance (if any), your A-level results and any supplementary tests which they've asked you to take for your subject (again, if any). Candidates which have focussed solely on A-levels and haven't really done much for the subject outside of their exams are probably less likely to demonstrate the passion and motivation for the subject which Russell Group universities seek in candidates - so going over and beyond the syllabus is usually beneficial. Essentially, this means that A-levels aren't the be-all-and-end-all, and there's no need to aim for perfection if you meet the minimum grade requirements for the subject!

    If it's of any relevance, I remember that one PPE professor said during Oxford's Open Day that PPE didn't mind the year in which an A-level was taken - although do note that this was the response to a question about early A-levels rather than late A-levels.

    Again, the above is all non-official and just my first impressions. I'd encourage you to call or email university admissions officers for the subjects and universities in which you're interested. Without a doubt, they'd be happy to help and can give you the actual, official, expert advice regarding your choices (rather than the half-baked advice from my experiences, impressions and two-minute searches listed above)! I've done it in the past and the hardest part really is finding the correct telephone number online rather than actually phoning them.

    One thing that you might like to bear in mind, though, is that undoubtedly, if you apply a year later, you should be prepared to answer any questions regarding why you needed to retake your A-levels. It might be useful to prove that you do have the academic and mental ability to cope with the stress and anxiety generally placed on students by attending higher-level universities such as Russell Group universities (good GCSE results, potentially?) - or you could always consider alternative courses like apprenticeships which the government has been so keen to promote in recent years.

    And hey, I know that when I did my AS French last year, I'd predicted myself a B and ended up getting a theoretical A*. You never know: you might have done far better than you expect!

    All the very best, and good luck!
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    (Original post by TheHistoryphile)
    Nor are my parents.

    Oh okay, working part-time does make sense but I know I will have to leave closer to exams so that I can focus entirely on studying.

    Are you re-taking everything? and will you apply when you get your new A-level results? Or will you be applying with the ones you already have and mentioning you are re-taking?

    I will be applying with my new ones, I think I need the time anyway. That means I will be attending university in 2018, my mum isn't keen on that but I think I need the time.

    I don't think you'll have to. Exams will feel a lot less stressful. This year, we finished learning content about a month before exams. Thats a month to revise, but if you have a year, it'll be much easier.

    I'm not sure, lol. I don't know which is better.

    I'd say I have a 50% chance of getting into my firm choice this year, and will more than likely get the insurance offer, but I dont wanna go der.
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    (Original post by Southwestern)
    Hey there, TheHistoryphile,

    I've taken a look around some university sites and newspaper articles; you seem smart so I'm sure this is all territory that you've already covered but I suppose it might be worth seeing if we both got the same impression at first glance. I'll stress that I'm not an admissions administrator or have any kind of competence in this; everything I say will be based on that search and what I've heard from my own inquiries in the past regarding admissions to Russell Group universities.

    It's really inspiring to see your level of dedication and commitment though!

    From what I understand based on my quick searches, retakes are generally permissible asides from subjects which focus on medicine, for which retakes are usually not accepted (I suppose these are subjects, after all, which require far more precision than others). Judging by your TSR alias, that shouldn't be too much of a worry for you :P

    There are some newspaper articles which seem to suggest that statistically, retake candidates are disadvantaged over candidates which have sat a test only once. I don't suppose this is too surprising, really, because retake candidates are probably usually considered to be those who have developed their academic commitment or ability later than others of their age (rather than, as is in your case, those with exceptional circumstances which justify the retakes). The question to focus on, in my view, is how much are you disadvantaged rather than whether you are disadvantaged, and even then these articles seem to focus on medical sciences. It might be worth waiting for your results before definitely considering what you'd like to do: if they're better than you expect and meet minimum grade requirements, you might only be disadvantaging yourself needlessly by resitting exams.

    I do vaguely recall being told at the University of Oxford that for certain subjects, tutors might prefer candidates who have taken a gap year if it has developed their cultural and subject understanding (I think History was cited as one of these subjects) - so if you do decide to take a gap year, it might be worth not only retaking your A-levels but also developing your interests in whatever subject(s) you choose to apply for at university, and perhaps even consider taking up a job related to the faculty. If you reflect your experiences on your personal statement when you apply next year, it might well improve your application considerably.

    I suppose this is another important point to remember: by my understanding, Russell Group universities (and especially Oxbridge) take A-levels as a formality and normally would make their assessment on you considering the amalgamation your personal statement, your references, your interview performance (if any), your A-level results and any supplementary tests which they've asked you to take for your subject (again, if any). Candidates which have focussed solely on A-levels and haven't really done much for the subject outside of their exams are probably less likely to demonstrate the passion and motivation for the subject which Russell Group universities seek in candidates - so going over and beyond the syllabus is usually beneficial. Essentially, this means that A-levels aren't the be-all-and-end-all, and there's no need to aim for perfection if you meet the minimum grade requirements for the subject!

    If it's of any relevance, I remember that one PPE professor said during Oxford's Open Day that PPE didn't mind the year in which an A-level was taken - although do note that this was the response to a question about early A-levels rather than late A-levels.

    Again, the above is all non-official and just my first impressions. I'd encourage you to call or email university admissions officers for the subjects and universities in which you're interested. Without a doubt, they'd be happy to help and can give you the actual, official, expert advice regarding your choices (rather than the half-baked advice from my experiences, impressions and two-minute searches listed above)! I've done it in the past and the hardest part really is finding the correct telephone number online rather than actually phoning them.

    One thing that you might like to bear in mind, though, is that undoubtedly, if you apply a year later, you should be prepared to answer any questions regarding why you needed to retake your A-levels. It might be useful to prove that you do have the academic and mental ability to cope with the stress and anxiety generally placed on students by attending higher-level universities such as Russell Group universities (good GCSE results, potentially?) - or you could always consider alternative courses like apprenticeships which the government has been so keen to promote in recent years.

    And hey, I know that when I did my AS French last year, I'd predicted myself a B and ended up getting a theoretical A*. You never know: you might have done far better than you expect!

    All the very best, and good luck!
    Thank you so much for writing all of this out for me. I definitely think I should spend time in my gap year trying to take up as many opportunities I possibly can that link to the subject I plan on studying at university. In this sense, I feel that the gap year will benefit me greatly, this alongside working and studying for my A-level re-takes, I think I will be able to rekindle that feeling of coping with a lot on my plate without completely breaking down which should hopefully prepare me well of university.

    I absolutely don't want so become the "all talk, no action" person so I will be doing a lot more research but thank you for writing all this up for me. It has helped a great deal in calming down my anxieties for next year.

    I just have so much to prove to myself, I completely lost faith in myself this year but I'm still 18 and I think I can make up for it. But time is working against me and I just want to get on the path I've dreamt of being on, despite this set back that I'm facing.
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    (Original post by TheHistoryphile)
    Thank you so much for writing all of this out for me. I definitely think I should spend time in my gap year trying to take up as many opportunities I possibly can that link to the subject I plan on studying at university. In this sense, I feel that the gap year will benefit me greatly, this alongside working and studying for my A-level re-takes, I think I will be able to rekindle that feeling of coping with a lot on my plate without completely breaking down which should hopefully prepare me well of university.

    I absolutely don't want so become the "all talk, no action" person so I will be doing a lot more research but thank you for writing all this up for me. It has helped a great deal in calming down my anxieties for next year.

    I just have so much to prove to myself, I completely lost faith in myself this year but I'm still 18 and I think I can make up for it. But time is working against me and I just want to get on the path I've dreamt of being on, despite this set back that I'm facing.
    Hehe, don't worry! Of course you can get on the path that you want; a year is a long time and judging by your posts here, you totally have not just the dedication and commitment but also the academic ability and intuition to do it. And hey, you must be looking forward to a year of no proper formal school!

    Situations like yours are unfortunate and I wouldn't wish them on even the scariest bees (and oh I'm so annoyed with them already and it's only June!). I'm really glad that you've found professional support and help, though, and I'm sure you'll be fine!

    Do talk to professors and admissions officers and do make sure to prepare, plan and assess. I wish you every bit of luck with your ventures and I'll keep you in my prayers.
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    (Original post by Southwestern)
    Hehe, don't worry! Of course you can get on the path that you want; a year is a long time and judging by your posts here, you totally have not just the dedication and commitment but also the academic ability and intuition to do it. And hey, you must be looking forward to a year of no proper formal school!

    Situations like yours are unfortunate and I wouldn't wish them on even the scariest bees (and oh I'm so annoyed with them already and it's only June!). I'm really glad that you've found professional support and help, though, and I'm sure you'll be fine!

    Do talk to professors and admissions officers and do make sure to prepare, plan and assess. I wish you every bit of luck with your ventures and I'll keep you in my prayers.
    Thank you so, so much!
 
 
 
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