It is no secret that GCSEs are difficult and with the increased stress and anxiety from the large and silent exam halls. It is therefore no surprise that about 35.6% of students in England don’t manage to get a grade 4 in GCSE English Language and GCSE Maths. There is no shame in this, which is why the government has made it possible for you to retake your exams. But if you want to move on from your GCSEs and retake them years later, can you?
The answer is yes, you can retake your GCSEs at any age after originally doing them. You can even retake your GCSEs as many times as you want to. You may want to retake your GCSEs for many reasons, such as not getting the grades you wanted or needing certain grades to study further or even to get the job that you want to. But you may also have to retake GCSEs such as maths and English if you do not get a passing grade. This is a grade 4 in the new 9-1 grading system in England or a grade C in Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you are interested in learning more about retaking your GCSEs and all the rules and requirements for them then you should read on (especially for more about age, what is compulsory and how exactly you go about retaking your GCSEs).
Can You Retake Your GCSEs at Any Age?
Generally, students sit their GCSEs when they are in Year 11 (generally 15 or 16 years old). If you don’t pass or don’t get the grades that you wanted then you can re-sit them.
You can retake your GCSEs at any age (After you initially took them) and even do this as many times as you would like (although there is likely to be a fee involved). This means that you can even retake your GCSEs as an adult.
You may want to retake specific GCSEs if you are looking for a career change or simply because feel much more prepared to do them than you initially did.
If you need specific GCSEs for a career change or even to go on and study further. Also, if you just want to achieve them for your own personal reasons but you didn’t originally take them in Year 11 (or whenever you previously did GCSEs). You should also keep in mind that you can also take new GCSEs at any age, even as an adult.
This gives you a great opportunity to study what you really want to, giving you a lot more freedom than you would likely have if you took them during secondary school.
Is Retaking GCSEs Compulsory?
For most GCSEs, retaking is not compulsory, regardless of whether you get a pass (grade 4) or not. But for required subjects, you will have to retake the exams until you get a grade 4, until you get to 18.
Both GCSE English Language and GCSE Maths are compulsory subjects so you are required to work towards some form of qualification in these subjects if you didn’t initially pass them with a grade 4 when taking them in Year 11. This is a requirement for people between 16 and 18 years old or people between 19 and 25 who have an education, health and care plan (EHCP). Please see here for more details.
The qualification that you will have to work towards depends on what grade you originally received and what you are going on to do next. If you received a grade 3 and are going to be a full-time student, you will need to re-sit the exam for either GCSE English Language or GCSE Maths. This depends on which one you got a grade 3 in.
If you got a grade 3 but are going to be a part-time student then you can take a functional skills qualification instead. This is the same for if you got a grade 2 or below (regardless of becoming a part-time or full-time student). If you want to go onto study for an apprenticeship next then maths and English will be a part of your programme.
Why Should You Retake Your GCSEs?
There are many reasons why people choose to retake their GCSEs. If you are thinking about retaking them, you probably have your own reasons that may even be different to the ones here. But you can look at the following reasons for retaking GCSEs to understand their importance a little bit more.
One reason why people retake their GCSEs is because of the expectations they have for themselves to achieve a particular grade. As you probably know, sitting exams in a massive hall in strict conditions is extremely stressful. For some people it can lead to them not getting the results that they had hoped for or even expected of themselves.
In scenarios like this, retaking your GCSEs can give you another chance to prepare yourself for the exam and do it all over again. With this second chance, you are more likely to be able to achieve your target grade. So, retaking your GCSEs is definitely a great idea if you don’t get the grade that you want the first time.
Retaking Exams Because of Further Study
Another reason why retaking your GCSEs can prove to be exceptionally useful is because of going on to study further. When continuing to study after finishing your GCSEs, many courses will have certain grade requirements or a certain number of GCSEs to allow you to do the course, whether this is to study A levels, a vocational course or some other level 3 qualification. So, retaking your GCSEs can give you more opportunities to do what you want to after you finish them and even give you more chances in life.
One chance that this can give you is going on to higher education and going on to study at university or some other higher-level courses. If this is what you want to do, retaking your GCSEs may even be essential.
Firstly, because it will enable you to study for your A levels or whatever other level 3 qualification that you want to study for. With these level 3 qualifications (at the right grades), you can meet the entry requirements for university or other types of higher education.
Also, some universities look at your GCSE grades and want you to achieve specific GCSE grades on top of their specific A level (or an alternative qualification) entry requirements.
Retake Exams to Increase Your Options in the Future
Also, retaking your GCSEs can give you more opportunities in the future, even if you don’t want to continue studying. In the UK, you have to stay in education until the age of 18 . Because of this you can’t just get a full-time job, even if you don’t do as well in your GCSEs as you would have liked.
This is why retaking your GCSEs can open a lot of new opportunities for you with whatever you plan to do in the future.
If you don’t want to continue studying, you can go and find an apprenticeship, which will give you real experience and help you work towards a career of your choice. With apprenticeships, you can also get paid and you won’t need to study quite as much as you would need to in a more traditional post-GCSE qualification, such as A levels or BTECs.
If you think that taking apprenticeship is a good idea for you, retaking your GCSEs first is your best option as many have specific requirements (particularly for GCSE Maths and GCSE English Language), although this will depend on the apprenticeship.
How Can You Retake Your GCSEs?
First of all, you have to decide how you want to retake your GCSEs. Do you want to retake your GCSEs at a local college or the school you already went to? You can also study for them privately online. Both options have their own benefits and it is important that you find the best option for you.
If you are under the age of 18 and you didn’t get a grade 4 in either English or maths then you will have to retake these compulsory qualifications at school or college. More details here.
If you attend a sixth form or college and are studying for a level 3 qualification (such as A levels or BTECs) alongside your GCSE retakes then you will be able to re-sit your exams there. You may also be able to take evening classes or other options to make re-studying for your exams more flexible (especially if you work in the day).
As a private candidate, you will have a lot more to think about but you will have a more flexible timetable. This will allow you to fit it in whatever else you are doing (especially if you are an adult, wishing to retake your GCSEs). Look here for more information. Also, here is a step-by-step guide of How to Sit GCSE Exams Privately.
In both cases, you will have to do the exams in person at the same time as all other students (although there are extra re-sit exams in November for GCSE English and maths). But if you are a private candidate then you will have to arrange this by yourself. You will also have to pay exam fees as a private candidate but these will vary depending on the exam centre. For more information, check out this article.