Do Universities Look at Your GCSE and A-Level Attendance?

In University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

The years that we spend at school can sometimes feel as though they dissolve into an indeterminate blur, with terms fading into each other in a multitude of inset days, holidays and sick weeks intermittently strewn across the mix. So, whilst the school year is whizzing past, we may not think about how every sick day, doctor’s appointment or snow day accumulated until we peaked our eyes reluctantly at our overall yearly attendance. Regardless of the figure, we pushed it into the back of our minds and ploughed on with another year. But how far along our careers do those seemingly unimportant figures survive?  

To answer the question, it is unlikely for universities to go as far as finding out your individual attendance and it certainly won’t affect your chances of being given an offer. Your school’s reference usually doesn’t comment on attendance unless it is adversary and even so, your school will present this in a positive way to your advantage. Despite this, absences may have an effect on your overall academic performance which does affect university offers.  

The above briefly summarizes the impact that our attendances may have, and whether universities pay any regard to it. However, I would recommend that you keep reading to find more useful information about attendance at GCSE and A-Level, and how it can indirectly affect whether you get an offer or not from your dream university.  

Do Universities Look at Your GCSE Attendance? 

It is almost guaranteed that universities will not spend the time delving so deep into your academic career in order to find out your Year 11 attendance, especially since it would be from 2 years before your application and does not directly affect your eligibility as a candidate. Therefore, to put it shortly, it is highly improbable that universities will be able to see your attendance during Year 11 unless your school comment on it in your reference to the university; and in this case the school will be doing so in order to boost your chances of getting an offer.  

Despite this, as students ourselves it is evident that large periods of absences can easily affect our academic progress. Especially in a year as crucial as Year 11, missing school days can lead to the accumulation of work which is accompanied by the stress to complete the work and catch-up in class, thus being a factor which could hinder your progress. This is evident in a report published by the Department of Education in 2016. Every day spent off school is associated with a lower chance of achieving 5 or more “good” GCSE grades. 

 Whilst most universities don’t look at your GCSE achievements, some highly academic universities; including medical schools, will look at your GCSEs to ensure a sound academic career of their potential candidates. Therefore, if your GCSE results weren’t what you were aiming for, or don’t meet the university requirements, your chances of an offer will be reduced. This can be combatted by academic progress and a good work ethic embedded in your routine from early on in your academic career, starting from Year 11. 

 So, if you are wondering whether absences during GCSE years will be seen by universities or affect your future greatly, the short answer is no, the universities that you apply for will not check your attendance as it is such an insufficient factor in assessing a candidate, as this will be extremely unfair to those who have worked hard to obtain outstanding results but have suffered from illnesses or problems throughout the year that have prevented them from attending school. However, although low attendance will not directly affect university offers, it may very well affect your academic performance and therefore this can affect your overall grade- thus affecting university offers.  

How Can Good GCSE Attendance Affect University Offers? 

As mentioned above, low attendance during the learning period leading up to GCSEs can mean that your academic progress may not improve as much as you would like it to, as stress and hassle are involved with not only catching up with any missed work and revision; making it more likely that your base knowledge on the topics which you missed may be weaker. This, in turn affects your grades and can contribute towards university offers.  

Good attendance during GCSEs means that you don’t miss the work and have enough time to carefully map out a schedule (if this suits you) to allocate revision leading up to the exams. This is evidently a solid basis for achieving the grades that you deserve. As well as this, it provides you with something arguably more valuable; the ability to fully immerse yourself in all the different subjects in order to discover some which particularly pique your interest and, if you have already decided on a career path, may link with that, or if not, help you locate your passion and help you decide possible career pathways.  

Being able to experience different subjects in lessons will also help you to choose a good combination of A-Level subjects which you not only enjoy but will be a good mix in order to pursue your desired career.  

Do Universities Look at Your A-Level Attendance? 

As opposed to GCSEs, universities definitely place a lot more importance upon A-Levels and this is clear when checking university course requirements: it is safe to say that almost all of them have minimum grade combinations which are necessary to be able to apply for a course.  

However, universities will not check your attendance during sixth form unless the school mentions it in your reference– and if they do (which is very unlikely), it will be a positive aspect because your school is favouring you to be able to get a place at your dream university. It is unfair to penalize a student on absences which they have no control over (as a result of sickness, family issues. etc) and therefore your chances of getting an offer will not be reduced by absences at sixth form. 

Despite this, similarly to absences during GCSEs – and maybe even more so at A-Level – missing out on immense amounts of work can be detrimental to your grade, because the termly work and assessments which are completed during class contribute to your predicted grade which does affect university offers, as it is the teacher’s reflection of your progress and achievement during the course. If you are an A-Level student, you will be aware of the depth that the course goes into, and so you know that there is more work to catch-up on if you miss your lessons.  

The higher your attendance is during sixth form, the better your overall learning experience is, and it equips you for the future, both when applying for jobs, and to university.  

It is important to remember that your teachers are there to support you with work and pastoral care, so if you are struggling, getting in touch with the school support system could be very useful as it informs the teachers of any additional help that they could provide.  

How Can Good A-Level Attendance Affect University Offers? 

Our attendance during sixth form is more crucial than attendance during GCSEs, because we are not only engaging in the depth of the A-Level course, but we are also undertaking different types of courses such as work experience or AS Levels in order to gain UCAS points. These different courses give us experience and skills which can be put on your personal statement when applying to university.  

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