Why Disappointing GCSE/A-level Grades Are Not The End Of The World


    Results Day

    Results day is a very stressful day for all students, especially if your results are not quite what you were hoping for. It is human nature to think you have done worse than you actually have, and at times of stress its difficult to be objective. But there is really no need to panic, and depending on which set of exams you have taken, there are several options available to ensure you can still achieve your ambitions. In time you will see that disappointing grades (GCSE, A-level or others) are not the end of the world.


    The first option you can pursue is a re-mark. If your grade is unexpectedly low, a remark could resolve the entire problem. Schools can request the exam board to send papers out for marking again by another examiner. When you’re on a grade borderline, this can make the difference between meeting a university offer and not.

    However, there are a couple key considerations when deciding whether or not to send your paper for a remark. Your mark could go up or down, and you can’t choose to go back to the original. It’s also often the case that the second examiner will see the marks and comments made by the first. If you require a rapid remark, in order to not miss the conditions of a university offer, you can request a priority remark. There are several different types of remark available, and you should visit your exam board’s website to find out more.


    If a remark is not successful in raising your grade, or is not appropriate for you, the next consideration is a retake. The good news is that if you do worse than last time, you can hang on to your original mark, unlike remarks where your grade could go down. The bad news is that this involves a lot more work and revising all over again.

    If you are an A2 student, this will involve taking a gap year, in order to be able to sit the exams. Whilst a gap year may not have been part of your plans, it does provide lots of opportunities to develop other skills that can strengthen your university application in the following year.


    If retakes did not go successfully, or the idea of taking a gap year does not appeal to you, you should consider Clearing. The first thing to state here is, do not assume you have lost your first choice place. Even if you did not meet your offer, the university may still be willing to admit you with the grades you did get.

    If not, then many universities participate in Clearing, a swathe of university places that have yet to be taken. Some will have a guide to the grades expected for the place which may be available on the universities clearing website, but this is not always the case. It is worth shortlisting some courses you would like to enrol onto, and calling up their admissions offices.


    Of course university is not for everyone, and if you would prefer a more hands-on learning experience, then an apprenticeship may be for you. There are some substantial advantages of an apprenticeship over a university degree: no student debt, earn and learn and gain valuable workplace experience. On completing an apprenticeship, you will be awarded a nationally recognised certificate.

    In summary, there are still plenty of possible avenues to pursue in the event of a less than successful results day. Don’t fret, speak to your parents, teachers and friends and reflect on the options you have.