What To Do If You Fail Your GCSEs

What To Do If You Fail Your 2024 GCSEs

In GCSE by Think Student Editor13 Comments

The past couple of years have been tough especially with the pandemic effecting the way our education has been taught and examined. You may be worried about what to do if you fail your GCSEs.

I know from first hand experience how much this sucks. At the time of writing this article for Think Student, it has been a few years since I got my GCSE results and I really feel for those who didn’t perform as well as they were expecting.

Anyway, maybe you saw this coming, maybe you didn’t. Whatever the reasons were for you failing your GCSEs, the steps you take in the next few months will completely shape your future for the next few years.

In this article, I am not going to focus on why you have failed your GCSEs. I am going to focus on how you can get yourself out of this hole that you find yourself in. What follows is the 7 essential steps that you should take after failing your GCSEs.

1. Get Your GCSE English And Your GCSE Maths Exams Remarked

GCSE Failed Test Remarked
As you might already know, to avoid retaking either GCSE Maths or GCSE English (language or literature) during sixth form, you must get a minimum of a 4 in GCSE Maths and either GCSE English Language or Literature.

Therefore, if you are currently graded a 3 in either of these main subjects and you get bumped up to a 4 after a remark, you will not have to do retakes during college!

Firstly, if you got anything less than a 3 (D) in a subject, don’t remark it. There is pretty much a 0% chance your grade will bump up 3 grades after remarking. So, move on to the next step.

However, if your GCSE grade is a 3, you MUST try and get that remark. The school will most likely offer to pay for the remark as well. But if they don’t, I personally think it’s worth you paying for the remark yourself.

If you are paying for the remark with your own money, it will cost you around £30 per paper. 

You MUST get all your remarks done by the 20th of September – this is the deadline for paper remark requests.

2. Decide What Career Path You Want To Pursue

Career Paths After Failed GCSE
It’s fine to still not know exactly what job you want when you’re older. Having said that, you should really know what type of industry you want to be in by now.

If you do not know, you need to spend a few days purely just thinking where you want to be in the future. You don’t need to be exact – just a general direction will help massively. 

Obviously, the direction you choose needs to be realistic and accommodate your particular situation. Therefore, it’s a bit silly to pick a route that will require lots of academic ability.

I know it’s hard, but you have to adjust your future plans based on the fact you have just failed all of your GCSEs. I am not saying that you now have to pick a career path that is boring and unskillful – just the career path should suit your strengths (which for you, and me, means as little as possible academic ability involved).

Check out this article on career paths that require absolutely no GCSEs for ideas.

You must choose a career direction that you will actually enjoy. If you are not passionate about your chosen career direction, you will not be motivated to actually progress in that direction. Not only will you not be happy, but your attempt at succeeding in that career will most likely go the same way as your GCSEs did – not well.

There is nothing wrong with choosing a career path that is not academic. Some people are just not good at tests, and that’s totally fine. So don’t get yourself down about having to chose a non-academic career path.

Once you have chosen a career to pursue, you need to create a plan to get there, which leads on to my next point…

3. Talk To Your College About Your Available Options

Talking To College After Failing GCSEs
Most colleges will accept you – no matter what your GCSE grades are. However, the course they offer will have conditions.

For example, if you have failed either GCSE Maths or GCSE English Language, the college will most likely make you retake those GCSEs again alongside your actual college course.

Even if you don’t have to retake GCSE Maths or GCSE English Language, it is still worth talking to your college, as they might suggest options to you that you may not have thought of yourself.

If you are desperate to do a particular course at college, but you are just short of the entry requirements, don’t just give up! You MUST talk to the college – there is a very high chance that they will make an exception for you and make you a conditional offer.

However, there is an equally high chance that your GCSE results are so bad that the college won’t even let you in. In this situation, you seriously need to consider going straight into employment and not wasting your time with education.

If this is what you decide to do, you need to start looking at jobs that require no GCSEs and see what type of job might appeal to you.

4. Write Down The Reasons For You Failing Your GCSEs

Reasons For People Failing GCSEs
The consequences of you failing your GCSEs may not be that huge in the grand scheme of things, however, the root cause of your failure will remain with you for the rest of your life, if you don’t address it.

You need to spend some time reflecting on why you failed your GCSEs. Once you have determined the reasons for you failing your GCSEs, write them down.

Writing these reasons down on paper is so important as it allows you to take a step back and actually see what your main problems are.

Most of your reasons for your failure at GCSE will fit into these three categories:

  • Didn’t Give Your GCSEs Enough Effort
  • Your GCSE Revision Technique Was Really Poor
  • Starting Revising Too Late For Your GCSEs

You need to address these three reasons very differently.

Firstly, if the reason you failed was because you didn’t “even try” – that’s not good. You need to think of a cover story that you can tell employers, colleges and universities as to why you have failed your GCSEs. You MUST not tell them that you just “didn’t try” – it shows really bad character and work ethic. 

Not only do you need to make up a story that doesn’t make you sound like a complete muppet, but you also need to actually fix the issue that caused you not to “even try”. If you don’t fix the issue now, you will continue to fail – nobody’s going to give you a third chance.

Secondly, if it was because you had an extremely poor revision technique – it is semi-forgivable. You will need to improve your revision technique, if you wish to continue down a path where you will be taking exams. However, if you are just going to peruse a job that doesn’t require GCSEs – don’t worry about it too much.

Finally, if you just got your timing wrong and started revising for your GCSEs too late, you desperately need to learn how to plan properly. Planning skills are in high demand when you get into the working world.

Once again, do not tell employers, colleges or universities that this was the reason – you will scare them away, as you are effectively saying you can’t meet deadlines.

5. Talk It Through With Your Friends And Family

Talking To Friends And Family About GCSEs
The fact that you are on this article right now, shows that you do in fact care about failing your GCSE results. This is a good thing that you care, however, I know (from experience) how low and sad you can get after failing GCSEs.

It’s a good idea to talk about this failure to either your parents, siblings or friends. There is a chance people will be disappointed with you – don’t ignore this disappointment. Use the fact that people think your a failure as fuel to succeed… prove them wrong!

Even if your parents don’t care that you have failed your GCSEs – you should care.

However, there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Don’t be too disappointed with yourself, as this is unhealthy and actually counter productive.

Therefore, if you are feeling extremely down go and talk to the people who will care and listen. This support should keep you on your feet until you can follow your new life plan.

6. Don’t Make The Same Mistakes That You Did At GCSE In The Future

GCSE Mistakes
Making mistakes and completely failing at GCSE can make you lucky for many reasons. I know what your thinking… but stay with me.

Failing your GCSEs means that you (hopefully) will not repeat the same mistakes that you made at GCSE later in your life. This means when you move on to more important events such as university, college or proper employment you would’ve learnt from your prior mistakes already.

Warning! Analogy incoming: It’s like how you want to get chicken pox earlier in your life rather than later, as the consequences of getting the disease are much, much worse if you catch it later in your life.

7. Talk To People Who Have Also Failed Their GCSEs

Talking To Friends After GCSEs
Creating a plan after failing your GCSEs can be hard, however, if you talk to other people who have also failed and are in the exact position as you it can help.

They could give you ideas that you had never thought of before, maybe they could suggest that one apprenticeship that you had never even considered before, that you would really enjoy.

Not only might these people give you ideas that you hadn’t thought of yet, but they will also help you feel less lonely in your situation. 

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Dale Woodrow
Dale Woodrow
5 years ago

got a 16 yr old who suddenly wont show interest in study regarding mocks. worried sick about school ending and no gcse results.
worried parent with a child who wont open up and talk.

Reply to  Dale Woodrow
1 year ago

I. I. That boat now so what did your son end up doing ?

Haris Nasir
Haris Nasir
4 years ago

I have just done my GCSE S and I got passes in most my subjects the only thing is I failed both my English and due to this I can’t apply in anything I want as they require English at grade 4 I need some guidance as what to do

Reply to  Haris Nasir
2 years ago

Try your local college you can iftenvredit maths and English alongside btecs- good luck

4 years ago

Yes, you do, though it can be brief. In this response you could refer to comments made by the External Examiner during their oral report at the Exam Board, and/or confirm that no issues were reported by the External Examiner. Please also ensure that any recommendations that are in the General Comments section are also responded to. You should also thank the External Examiner for their work.

3 years ago

If we fail our IGCSE in 2020, could we change the school system for example British to American system

3 years ago

what do I do if I have failed my GCSES and want to do for example an art course and resit at the same time but I didn’t apply to do an art course ?

2 years ago

I know, I should not be worrying about something like this now. But, if I fail my GCSE my whole future is basically thrown away. I don’t know if I can even explain how often I think about GCSE and that if I fail I’m going to be so angry with myself. Please help me to stop stressing about exams that are 5 years away!!!!

1 year ago

im about to get my results in a few days and im really worried that i did really bad so this is just a way of telling myself that it isnt the end of the world but reading thru it made me realise that it really is my advice to anyone who still hasnt done there gcses yet u better hope that ur revising from now or ur fu!?*d wish me luck i guess

Freddie stevison
Freddie stevison
Reply to  rue
5 months ago

hey rue im sorry to hear this i wish you luck from a year later hope you get your results soon good luck pooksterino

1 year ago

Really good realistic and relatable article! From a mum who’s son has just received his GCSE results and trying to navigate through what he can do next – he has dyslexia but I refuse to let him use this as an excuse! I think reflecting on why they didn’t do their best is great because it encourages them to take responsibility and not blame everybody else for their shortcomings – a good life skill to be learnt in that itself.

Reply to  sara
1 year ago

Hi Sara, I’m a dyslexic with a MA and BSc (I am reading this article to assist a friend’s child). I am genuinely concerned by the attitude: “he has dyslexia but I refuse to let him use this as an excuse!” From experience I can tell you ‘we’ are not making excuses when we explain our disability and limitations. I am sure this is something you are already doing but try speaking to him about those challenges and helping with coping mechanisms, the attitude he is making excuses will only make him hate and resent you – I know by how… Read more »

1 year ago

i had a panic attack in my english language exam which caused ,e to do bad in the exam and get a grade 3. what do i do? do i have to explain to my college/six form? will they still make me resit the exam