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GCSE results: What if your grades are lower than you expected?

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GCSE results day is nearly upon us. The last two years have been leading up to this moment, when your future will be determined by that all-important set of results. You nervously tear open the envelope to find…you haven’t done as well as you thought. So what now?


  • Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and calm down. It might feel like the end of the world, but there are always options.


  • Talk to a teacher. What do they think of your grades? If you think there is something wrong you can talk about the possibility of a remark. Examiners do make mistakes and teachers can query unexpected grades and request remarks on your behalf. Policies and costs vary between exam boards.


  • If your grades are only just below what you expected or needed you might still be able to progress onto the course you want. Get on the phone to your college, sixth form or training provider to find out if they will still accept you. Doing this yourself, rather than asking a teacher or parent, might also help sway their decision.


  • Re-sit. If you did not achieve at least a grade C in GCSE maths or English you will have to re-sit those subjects as part of your studies anyway. You may also be able to retake other subjects alongside your next course of study, though that depends on the school or college.


  • Other options. If you were planning to do A-levels but you didn’t make the grade, you might want to consider alternative qualifications. These include: BTECs, which give you a broader knowledge of a particular sector or industry, Cambridge Technicals, which involve studying a range of subjects with flexible choices of units, NVQs, which provide you with skills to do a specific job and the new TechBac qualification, which gives you technical knowledge and skills.


  • You could also learn while you earn with an apprenticeship or traineeship. An apprenticeship gives you the chance to work for an employer while earning a wage and gaining a qualifications. There are almost 300 different types of apprenticeship in more than 1,500 job roles. A traineeship provides the essential work preparation training, literacy and numeracy skills, and work experience needed to get an apprenticeship or other job.


  • Whatever you do, make sure you talk through your options thoroughly with your parents and teachers and think carefully before making any decisions.


For more advice and guidance, visit the UCAS website.


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