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Retaking A levels

Unfortunately many students are disappointed on results day when they do not get the A level grades they were expecting.

Once you have your grades, you need to decide what to do next. You might find that you still get to one of the universities of your choice or you could go through clearing. Another option is to retake the A levels. Lots of students opt to take the year off or have a gap year before retaking the exams.

The new Linear A levels means that you have to retake all your exams. The big question you have to ask ‘is it worth it?” We specialise in retakes and we’ve put together some tips when considering doing the exams again.

1) Have a think about what went wrong so you can fix it.

During discussions with parents and students, we often ask them a few key questions about how hard they worked, their experience of the exams etc. and we see what they missed out or didn’t do. It’s really important that you have a clear idea of how to improve your grades, or you risk repeating the same mistakes.

2) Be aware of time limitations.

If you decide to do a January start and not work from September, maybe so you can have some time working and/or travelling, it is vital that you realise that you have much less time. You need to think of the third term as largely taken up with preparation for exams. A January start only really gives you one term to go over the material.

3) Get your exam papers back as soon as possible.

This is something our tutors love to look at, as we can tell so much about the mistakes students make and offer supportive solutions to help them. There is a small cost involved (around £12 per paper) but it is well worth it.

4) Talk to your school about retaking the exams there.

If your school doesn't allow external students to sit exams with them, or don’t support it, we can discuss alternatives.

5) Retaking can seem like a step back.

That is why we try to focus on the exam element of a retake and run evening courses as well as Easter and summer courses, designed to deliver the material, develop study and exam strategies rather than repeat the school experience.

6) Take control of your study.

This is what you will be doing at university. We can support the way you study and help you become a much more independent and effective student.

7) Look at the syllabus.

Make sure you have actually covered the material and understand it. The flaws or missing parts are what will weaken your chance of success in the future.

8) Audit your notes.

Use the syllabus to check that the notes you had were good enough. If there is information missing or the notes are unclear to you, then you need to go back over the material and make better notes. Doing a note audit, in the correct level of depth, can help you a lot.

9) Buy more books and widen your pool of resources.

Look at getting used editions or eBooks to save on costs, and utilise the ordering service at your local library. We have found that students often rely too heavily on one book. Again, we can help with this, but it makes sense for you to do this yourself as the experience of searching for resources will help your research skills and might lead to discovering some interesting and personally motivating resources.

10) Consider retake or short courses.

Resitting exams can be a daunting experience. If you want to succeed then look at some of the courses that we run to see if they suit you. We have A level in a year courses, retake courses or even simple and shorter one-to-one or Easter courses. We’re happy to speak with you to work out what the best pathway is for you to achieve the grades you want.

For retakes, A levels or GCSEs in one year, study skills sessions and a range of other courses, contact us at:


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