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What to Do if You Fail Your GCSEs

blackboard back to school

Failing your GCSEs can make you feel as though the world as you know it has ended. You can feel like a complete failure, and you know that you could have done better.

But take heart. There’s a whole lot more to your GCSE year than just that bit of paper at the end of it. Of course, a healthy bundle of A grades, or even a mixture of A, B, and C grades would have been preferable. But, there’s always a solution. So mop your brow and take a look at your next move.

Take advice

Be there in person to pick up your grades. Face it out. Talk to your teachers. You might have to reconsider your future. Perhaps you now need to rethink your chosen career path? What other options are available to you? Ask, listen and be prepared to take notes. Why did you fail? Apart from a lack of the obvious study time, perhaps there’s another problem? Your tutors may recommend changing a course, or an alternative college.

Re-marking your paper

The odds are probably not in your favour on this one, but it’s always a possibility that a mistake has been made. It might be considered to be clutching at straws, but if you really think that an error has been made then go ahead and challenge the result.

If it’s a difference between an A and a B and you’re at the top end of the B band – then go for it, a re-mark in your favour might make all the difference later on. Worth noting is that, if a re-mark is decided on, some schools and colleges will allow you to begin your A Level course as planned – especially if it’s a tight margin of error.

There is usually a fee for challenging your grades. Fees incurred by a grade change due to an error are generally refunded.

Re-sit your GCSE

No, it’s not the nicest thought, but if you know in your heart that you really could have studied harder, then bite the bullet and re-take your GCSE exams. The most important GCSEs to have A-C grades in are, Maths, English Literature, English Language and at least one Science. Try to ensure you have at least five GSCEs with A-C grades.

It could be that you only need to re-sit one GCSE, look into whether you have to submit coursework again or just do the exam again. If you have only one subject and one exam to concentrate on you’re bound to do better than the last time. Remember, though – if you actually do worse, then you cannot use your original, better grade.


There’s also the option of sitting an IGCSE instead, otherwise known as the International GCSE. This was originally set up for students whose first language was not English. The subjects are exactly the same, but with the addition of many more foreign languages.

You’ll find that may independent schools now use this qualification in preference to the original GCSE. Assessment takes place at the end of the course just like GCSEs, and the grades are exactly the same.

So, if your school of choice offers provision for both, then discuss the options with your parents and your school.

Perhaps this path is not for you?

Be realistic and face the facts, the most academic route might not be for you. Remember that there’s always an alternative. Perhaps the next step of A Levels will lead to more heart-ache; there’s quite a big jump from GCSE to A Level. Consider the possibility of a vocational qualification, like a BTEC – these might be a better option for you.

There are many options, so you should remain open-minded and give them all due attention before making any decisions. After all, you’re paving the path to the rest of your life so think about what you want from it and how’s best to get there.

Failed your GCSEs? Have a look at the range of IGCSEs available at Oxford Learning College.

Got the GCSE grades you were looking for and thinking ahead to university? Find out if it’s right for you.