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A-levels: Resit Before Your Trip

Written by: Harriet Lawrence

It can be a real shock if you have a gap year all planned and suddenly you have to take A-level resits. You might be tempted to give up on your travels, or worse, to give up on uni. It’s important, once you get over the shock, to give these resits all your focus and attention over your travelling plans. After all, the countries that you’re going to are always going to be there. However, it’s possible to do both your resits and your travels successfully as long as you’re well organised…

What do I do if I need to resit?

When it has hit you that your A-level results weren’t up to scratch and you need to resit, you’ll need to speak to someone (preferably the head of that subject) at your school or college. They’ll guide you through the procedure of resitting exams, which will usually involve filling in and submitting a form and paying a fee, which can be anywhere from £5 to £20.

How long will I have to wait to do the resit?

A-level resits usually take place in January and then again in June. All resits are available in June but not all are in January, so make sure you check with your school or college before making a decision about when to resit and start your trip.

Do universities accept A-level resits?

Obviously your travels can’t last forever (we wish they could!) and you may want to go to university on your return. In most cases universities will accept you on passing a resit. However, you may find it difficult applying for particularly competitive universities / courses with resit grades, so as a first step ring the admissions officer at that university to check whether they would consider your resit grades. As long as you make clear your motivation and determination regarding the resits, there should be no problem.
A-levels: Resit Before Your Trip

How do I know I’ll do better the second time round?

Resitting an exam is a big commitment, in terms of money, stress and time. If you have decided to resit, it should be because you (and your parents and teachers) genuinely think you can do better, and that your original grade is not a fair representation of your ability.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll perform better in your resit, but the odds are with you as you’re giving yourself more time to revise and you have an idea of what you’ll be up against since you’ve already sat the exam.

Here are five tips to ensure your second exam result is what you were hoping for:

  1. If you’re going to be travelling during the year before your resit, don’t leave everything until you get back. Organise the resit before you leave and study while you’re away so that you’re prepared when you return. There is no reason why a resit should ruin your gap year, but don’t let your gap year ruin your chances of performing well in your resit.
  2. Look at how you originally revised and try and find out what wasn’t working. If all you were doing was reading and re-reading notes, try a more practical approach like making posters or doing exercises / essay questions.
  3. Even though you’ll no longer be at school, try and get someone to review your work so you know what needs improvement. Parents or friends can help you, but of course professionals would be best: contact your old teachers and ask if they would mind looking over a couple of pieces of your work and give you some advice. Even just a few pointers could make the difference between a B and an A.
  4. As you’ll now be doing all your revision from home, it will be hard to motivate yourself, particularly if you have to wait a whole year to resit. Set yourself realistic goals, create a good study environment and keep the work as constant as you can.
  5. If you missed out on a specific grade, make sure you pay close attention to the grade boundary requirements. If you’re finding yourself a grade or two below what you want, try and see what needs to be added to your work to move you up. Sometimes it could be something very simple that will enable to you cross that grade threshold.

Further Information

For more information for sixth form students, undergraduates and postgraduates, go to Just Courses for everything you need to know.
If you’re worried about clearing in August, maybe we’ve already answered your question about clearing in our Q+A session.
And of course, if you’re planning a gap year then jump on the message boards and talk to some other travellers.

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