Aug 12

Didn’t Get The A-Level Grades You Wanted? Here’s How To Get Back On Track

On the 18th of August, 2022, students around the UK will be waiting for an envelope that will determine their options for university, apprenticeships and future careers.

It’s no secret that your A-Levels are essential for university, and while hard work and revision should be enough to obtain those grades, there are times when you don’t get the results you desire.

Unfortunately, it happens all too often, and we completely understand that it might seem like your plans and dreams are now unobtainable.

Well, we’re here to tell you that getting lower A-Level grades than you need isn’t the end of the world, and there are plenty of things you can do to get back on track.

In this post, we’ll offer the guidance you need to get back to work and keep those university dreams alive.

The Facts

A Levels aren’t easy exams, and they’re not meant to be! Universities use them to determine whether to accept a potential student’s application, and you should never underestimate the importance of passing those exams.

According to Statista, the most common grades between 2001 and 2021 were B’s and C’s, but during those years, many students came out of their exams with D and E grades too.

Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and History are the more challenging subjects, with Classical Civilisation, Sociology and Media Studies being the easiest exams to pass.

While most universities state that an applicant must have 112 UCAS points, more competitive courses will require higher grades. It entirely depends on the degree you want to apply for or if you plan to attend one of the more prestigious universities such as Oxford or Cambridge.

In 2022, The Guardian released a list of the UK’s top-ranking universities, and the competition to get into one is fierce.

Oxford and Cambridge usually only offer places to students with at least AAA grades, so many students miss out on their dream university because they failed to secure the highest grades.

Luckily, the option to retake your A-Levels is there, and it can be the best way to win a place at your preferred university.

Retaking A-Levels is a lot more common than you think

Retaking A Levels

Many students retake their A-Levels if they don’t achieve their desired grades, which is much more common than you might think. If you’re worried about the stigma, there’s no need to be because universities always judge the grades you apply with and not your previous results.

Unfortunately, the option to retake your exams in January is no longer available, and students will have to wait until the following Summer to improve their grades.

However, this is beneficial because it gives you more flexibility should you want to relearn the topics you didn’t secure top grades for or choose a completely different course that might be better suited to your skills.

If you don’t get the grades you need, then there are steps you can take to get back on track. Let’s take a look at them.

Use UCAS Track to look at your options

Before you panic and think that your entire future is over, you should check UCAS Track and see how your grades will impact your top university choices.

While you might not have the grades to get into your number one university, your other options might still be available, and you can still study your chosen course.

Some universities will also suggest an alternative course that might suit your grades, and you could begin your studies on a foundation degree before moving on to the full degree.

If you’re unsure about retaking your A-Levels and want to go straight to university, then UCAS Track could be the better solution. However, you’ll unlikely secure a place at one of the most prestigious universities in the UK.

Take action if you feel the grade’s unfair

Sometimes, you might feel that your grade isn’t fair, and there’s always the option to appeal. While some students feel nervous about asking for a review from the exam board, it’s good to get a second option if you genuinely believe that you’ve been marked down on specific questions.

The sixth form department of your school or the college you attend should be able to provide helpful information, but private students can also contact the exam board directly. You can find the information for each examination board through the Gov.UK website.

Some students and parents also choose to lodge a complaint, which usually goes through the school, but it’s important to check the complaints procedure for your school or college.

Consider clearing as an option

While some universities and courses are highly popular, others might have spaces left after the initial round of applications. The Clearing Plus tool helps you to find courses relevant to your interests and subject areas, but you might have to travel further to attend university.

Sometimes, you’ll receive an offer for a different course than you initially planned. Unless you want to embark on a specific career path, such as medicine or law, most degrees offer some flexibility, and there’s always the opportunity to study for a master’s.

Resit the exam

Resit The Exam

For individuals with limited options resitting the exams could be the best way to secure your place at the university for want. You might also have to resit the exam if you want to enrol on a particular course such as mathematics, economics or any of the sciences.

There are two ways to resit your exam; going back to college and redoing the course or enrolling online.

Enrolling online

While some students prefer to return to college, the flexibility of online studying means you can revise online and focus on the topics you struggle with.

When you don’t have to attend classes, you can do some voluntary work to boost your university application or get a part-time job while you study.

If you know that certain subjects lowered your grades, a private tutor can help get you back on track and ensure you gain an in-depth understanding of the more challenging topics.

When it comes to the time to resit your exams, summer tutoring programmes can be beneficial to help you revise properly and learn vital exam techniques that can help you secure the grades you need for your preferred course.

At Fleet Tutors, we work with students to help them progress onto further education and gain the confidence they need to pass their exams and walk away with top grades that open up a world of opportunities.

Our specialist tutors have supported many students to get the required grades, and we pride ourselves on our fully bespoke approach to meet your learning style.

Consider a vocational qualification

Degrees are still the gold standard in education, but some career paths prefer vocational qualifications to a degree. For example, many jobs based in IT prefer professional qualifications that demonstrate a potential employee’s experience with computers.

It’s the same for accounting, writing, and HR jobs, so before you consider retaking your exams, think about where you’d like to be in the future. You could take an AAT course and become an accountant without studying for four years, and writing careers usually revolve around ability and talent rather than a degree.

Of course, some careers do require degrees, including:

  • Teaching
  • Engineering
  • Medical Fields
  • ¬†Sciences

It’s a good idea to use The National Careers Service to evaluate your options; then, you can decide whether a vocational qualification is suitable for your needs.

Embark on an apprenticeship

Apprenticeships continue to grow, and there were 719,000 participants during 2019/2020. While the pandemic led to a steep drop in apprenticeship starts, people are once again beginning exciting new work and training opportunities.

When you become an apprentice, you learn on the job, and some people attend college on day release to further their skills. Once you complete your apprenticeship, you can find employment or move on to higher-level training to secure better career opportunities.

While some people believe apprenticeships are entry-level opportunities, plenty of managerial apprenticeships or courses offer professional qualifications upon completion.

Take some time out

Time Out

In some cases, you might feel unsure about your next steps, and taking a gap year could be a great way to clear your head. Many students decide to take some time out before going to university and showing that you spent a year working or volunteering can give your future application a boost.

One of the best ways to make your gap year a useful one is by taking a TEFL course and helping people learn English abroad. Many countries also don’t require you to have a degree, including:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Chile
  • Cambodia
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Nicaragua

Joining a specialist programme such as The Mighty Roar will open up more opportunities for you, and you can even choose to volunteer in numerous locations.

Many students return from their experience feeling refreshed and might even want to choose a different career path after seeing the world and embracing new opportunities.

If you’re not a fan of teaching, you can also look at volunteering for home building, marine conservation and animal sanctuary projects. Also, becoming an Au Pair is a popular choice because you spend time in a new country and can learn a new language which will boost your university application.

Should you give up on your dream university?

Dream University

Of course, while there are plenty of options, if you don’t secure the required grades, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should take them.

Getting into a top university will give you plenty of opportunities for a better career – and the truth is – where you study does make a difference.

If you want a career in law, medicine or the financial sector, attending a university that ranks in the top three for these degrees shows you hold extensive knowledge surrounding that subject, and employers will look favourably upon you.

Our advice? Think about what you want for your future and decide based on that alone.

The bottom line

Hopefully, this post shows you that not getting the best A-Level results the first time isn’t the end of the world, and you can make some decisions about your next steps.

Retaking your A-Levels is – in our opinion – the best way to plan for a bright future, but while some students prefer to get straight back to their course, others find a gap year gives them a chance to regroup and return to studying refreshed.

If you’d like to explore private tutoring, please get in touch with the friendly team at Fleet Tutors.

Our fully qualified tutors are dedicated to helping you meet your education goals, and we’ve supported many students to secure a place in top-ranking universities.

Once you complete your degree, you’ll have plenty of career choices, and attending a top university will help you along the way.