Do Universities Check GCSE and A-Level Certificates?

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During the long period of time you spend, anxious about your GCSE’s, you may be wondering: do our GCSE certificates impact our university applications? And what about A-Levels? Surely, they must have an impact on something? This article will ease your worries about how universities check GCSE and A-Level certificates, and to what extent the achievements from these somewhat momentous exams affect the universities’ decision in issuing offers to candidates. 

To summarize, universities can check your GCSE and A-Level certificates if this is necessary. However, it is unlikely, as you provide accurate GCSE results on your UCAS application, and A-Level grades are sent directly to universities by exam boards. This means that the grades that your offer of a place are based on are reliable. Universities are only likely to check your certificates as extra proof if there is doubt about the accuracy of the grades that you have provided on your application.  

The above briefly explains whether universities tend to check your GCSE and A-Level certificates, however, to gauge more details about the different processed involved when universities have your GCSE and A-Level results, you may find it beneficial to read this full article. 

Do Universities Check Your GCSE Certificates? 

Many students across the country spent a summer in anticipation, awaiting their GCSE results. After all the hassle, the question arises, do universities actually check your GCSE certificate of qualification, and does it impact the grand scheme of things? 

Depending on the university and course that you are applying for, there will be different entry requirements that will be expected for your application to be considered. These can be found on the university website, under the course requirements. As your GCSE’s were undertaken 2 years before applying for university, most courses won’t take the time to check your GCSE certificates. You must also tell the truth about your achieved GCSE grades on your UCAS application, so there is little need to check the certificates, unless there is doubt cast over the truth of the grades you provided.  

This does not mean that GCSEs aren’t important, though. Most universities require at least a grade 5 in English and Maths. Different career pathways require different criteria, so it is important to check the requirements for your aspired career pathway(s) if you have decided them at this point.  

You should also remember that it is important to check the university that you are applying for and its expectations; for some high-achieving universities, it may be an unsaid assumption that you have high GCSE grades, and when determining the applicants, it could potentially be the difference between receiving an offer or not. 

This is common for top academic universities (like those who are part of the Russell group) such as medical schools as they want to ensure that you have a solid, consistent academic career. The typical course requirements for medical schools would be a GCSE grade 5 in English and Maths and between grades 6-9 in science subjects (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). For example, the University of Birmingham’s medical school requires that applicants must have grade 6s or above in English, Maths and Science subjects.  

Ultimately, the reason that universities may look at GCSE results is when deciding between offers; both applicants may have high A-Levels and extracurriculars and therefore the GCSE results may be used as some sort of “tie-breaker” 

Despite this, don’t feel stressed out if you have already done your GCSE’s and feel that you didn’t achieve quite what you were expecting; if you blow them away at your interview and show academic accomplishments universities are highly likely to overlook your GCSE scores and still offer you a place. 

If you would still like some further information about the importance of GCSEs, you can take a look at this useful article, which discusses the importance of GCSEs in the views of sixth forms, universities and employers.  

What Do You Need Your GCSE Certificates For? 

Your GCSE Certificates are simply proof of the grades you achieved. Although you may not need them for applying to university, you shouldn’t be throwing them away! 

The main thing that GCSE Certificates are likely to be used for is proof of your grades when you are applying for a job. Particularly when you are 16, and are unlikely to have any other qualifications, or specific work experience, this is very important.  

They may even be required when you have further qualifications, to show your achievements throughout your entire academic career to your employer. In this case, it is important that you have them, so that you don’t have to go through the lengthy process of finding out your GCSE grades and providing new evidence. If this is something that you need to do, it is not impossible, and more information can be found here. Just remember that it is much easier if you have your GCSE Certificates to hand.   

Do Universities Check Your A-Level Certificates? 

As your A-Level exams reflect a more narrowed-down perspective on the career you are deciding to pursue, it is natural that universities lean more towards using your A-Level results as a contributing factor towards the decision of offering you a place.  

Similarly, to the GCSE requirements detailed above, universities set their own course requirements for A-Level results. This does not necessarily mean that your A-Level certificates will be checked by your university. You are expected to tell the truth about your A-Level (predicted) grades on your UCAS application (you will be caught out if you don’t!), and following this, your exam boards will provide your university with the grades that you actually achieved.  

Because the grades that the exam boards provide are so reliable, it is not usually necessary for universities to seek further confirmation of the grades you achieved. If you would like to find out about when universities receive your A-Level grades, you may want to take a look at this useful article. This does not mean that you shouldn’t keep your A-Level certificates though – they may be useful in future, for example when you apply for a job.  

What Do You Need Your A-Level Certificates For? 

A-Level certificates are, again, simply proof of the grades that you achieved. Although they may not be checked by universities, it is important that you keep your certificates safe throughout your career.  

Achievement in A-Levels shows that you have more specialised knowledge than you did at GCSE in 3-4 specific subjects. Even if you have a degree after this, A-Levels provide insight into the detailed knowledge that you have. They are something that is important to employers, especially early on in your career.  

A-Levels may be used as a way of determining what skills you have to complete a job, which could be invaluable when you are applying for a job with a new employer. Certificates are the proof that you have of this, and so they can be incredibly important.  

For example, if the job that you were applying for required you to have knowledge of a second language, you may be able to use an A-Level grade to demonstrate that you are able to speak a particular second language. Obviously, with this kind of skill you may be tested in an interview, but it is a good way to show that you have these skills on an application. Your A-Level Certificates would simply act as a way of confirming that you have completed a 2-year course in which you have developed a particular skill.  

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