Retakes explained

Retakes explainedA disappointing exam result doesn’t have to be the end – but retakes aren’t an easy way to a better result, either. Get the facts on retaking exams.

Am I allowed to retake my exams?

Changes to GCSEs and A-levels have given some people the impression that they can no longer do retakes. This isn’t true. You can still retake any GCSE or A-level. However, because they are no longer modular, you can’t retake an individual module that you didn’t do as well on. Instead, you will have to do the full set of exams again, normally the following summer.

At university, the system will depend on your institution. If you fail an exam, you might be given the chance to retake it early the next year, and you might have to do this to continue on your course. In some cases, you might have to repeat the whole year.

Is it worth me retaking my exams?

Retaking can be a good idea if you have missed out on the results you need for a college course, university place or other opportunity. Keep in mind that the institution won’t necessarily keep their offer open to give you time to resit, so you might well have to apply again – but contact them first to see if there is anything they can do to make things easier for you.

If you have only just missed the result you needed, getting your exam re-marked could be a better option – you might get the grade after all. If not, you can still retake it.

When can I retake my exams?

For GCSEs and A-levels, you’ll normally have to wait until the following summer to do your retakes. You can retake GCSE English language, English literature or maths in November.

University retakes are usually taken either early in the following academic year or at the same time as the following year’s exams.

Do I have to pay?

There are fees for all GCSEs and A-levels, but these are normally covered by your school and college. If you have to retake your exams, it’s likely that you will have to pay these fees yourself. The cost depends on the coruse and the exam board, but is normally around £35 for a GCSE and £85 for an A-level. The cost will be higher for exams that require extra resources – normally those with a practical component.

If you have to repeat a year at university, you should be able to get an extra year of student finance to cover this as long as you haven’t been to university before. However, you can only get one extra year, so if you have to repeat twice then you will need to find alternative funding.

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