GCSEs and A Levels

GCSE Resits: The Complete Guide to Retaking GCSEs 2021


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Failing your GCSEs or narrowly missing out on the grades you wanted can feel devastating, but it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of failure.

There may be many reasons why you might not have received the grade that you were hoping for. Perhaps due to this year's recent exam cancellations, for example, you've been left with a below-average Teacher Assessed Grade.

Whatever the case, you shouldn't let it get you down for too long and it absolutely shouldn't stop you from trying again. 

Believe it or not, resitting can be a positive experience! It demonstrates that you’re super-committed to achieving your goals and are willing to work hard to get the results you want. 

If you’re ready to give it another go, here’s our complete guide to resitting your GCSEs.




Are there rules for GCSE resits?

There is some government policy that may or may not affect which GCSE subjects you resit.

The good news is that if you spectacularly failed History, there’s no obligation to take it again. You might decide you want to try your hand at Biology instead. Or maybe you fancy exploring Psychology. It might help you better understand your weird and wonderful friends and family!

The slightly less good news is that if you didn’t manage to get a grade 4 or above in Maths or English, you’ll need to keep studying these subjects until you’re 18.

The type of qualification you’ll be required to study is dependant on your grade:

  • If you got a grade 3 and will be studying full-time (540+ hours) next year, you’ll need to resit the GCSE
  • If you got a grade 3 and will be studying part-time (150 – 539 hours), you can take a functional skills qualification instead of GCSE
  • If you got a grade 2 or below, you can take a functional skills qualification instead of GCSE
  • If you’re going on to an apprenticeship, studying Maths and English will be part of your programme

This might be a disappointment to you, especially if you really struggled with either of these subjects, but many employers and further education courses require you to have at least a pass before they’ll even consider you, so it is worth your while trying again.

It might be difficult, but you should try to look at this as a fresh opportunity. You might want to try a different way of studying, come up with a new revision plan, or ask for extra support from a friend, relative or tutor.




Where can I resit my GCSEs?

Now that you’ve decided which subjects you’d like to resit, you should decide how you want to study.

You can either resit your GCSEs at school or college – granted they're back to normal after regulations surrounding coronavirus have eased up – or you can study for your resit with an online GCSE course.

Resitting at a school or college

You can enrol to resit your GCSEs at a local school or college. This means you’ll have a timetable and attend classes with other GCSE students.

Most schools and colleges will let you study your GCSEs alongside A Levels for other subjects, so don’t feel that resitting one or two subjects will completely hold you back.

If you like to learn in a classroom environment but need a bit more flexibility, you might want to try evening classes. Many colleges and some schools offer evening classes as an option which can be handy if you want to work alongside your studies.

Your exam

When it comes to your actual exam, typically you'll sit this alongside other people in your class. Due to circumstances related to the pandemic, however, summer 2021 exams were cancelled back in January 2021 and have instead been replaced with Teacher Assessed Grades due to come out in August. 

For more information, you can visit the GOV.UK website.  



Resitting online as a private candidate

If studying in a classroom isn’t for you, you can retake your GCSEs by studying online. 

This can give you greater flexibility as you’re not tied to a set timetable. So, if you want to work or have a hectic family or social life, you can easily schedule your studies around your other commitments. You can even study for A Levels online alongside your resits.

Online courses give you the freedom to study at your own pace. You can move through the topics as quickly as you like and spend a lot more time on the areas you struggle with than you’d be able to in a class with other students.

Plus, you'll have a personal tutor, so you'll get plenty of 1:1 support rather than competing for attention in a classroom.

Remember that if you’ve failed English or Maths, however, you’ll still need to take these in school until you’re 18; you can't sit them online unless you're 18+ or have already achieved a pass and are looking to get an even better grade.

Your exam

You’ll still sit your exam in person at the same time as all other GCSE students; however, you’ll be responsible for arranging this yourself.

About six months before you want to sit your exam, you should contact your local schools and colleges to see if they’ll allow you to sit the exam there as a private candidate.

You should be aware that there’s a fee to sit the exam which you’ll pay directly to the exam centre. The exact cost of this will vary depending on which centre you chose.

Have a look at our exam booking guide for more advice on how to get this organised. 




When can I resit my exams?

You’re probably aware that GCSE exams run in May/June, as this is when you would normally sit them at the end of the school term (although due to exam cancellations surrounding coronavirus this year, these exams will not be going ahead in May/June of 2020). 

You might not know, however, that you can sit exams for some subjects, including Maths and English, in January and/or November each year. The availability of these exams will vary depending on which awarding body you're sitting your exams with, such as AQA or Pearson Edexcel.

At the present time, it's also likely that additional resit exams will become available in autumn 2020, but due to the rapidly-changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19, this could change.

Your school or online course provider will be able to give you full details of potential exams dates as soon as they become available.


How much will it cost to resit my GCSEs?

To resit your GCSEs, you’ll have to pay two types of fees: course fees and exam fees. 

Your course fees will cover your tuition and/or course materials and will vary depending on where and how you choose to study.

If you choose a college you can be expected to pay upwards of £1,000 per subject for your tuition. Online courses tend to be much more flexible and affordable; you can enrol for an online course with 1:1 tutor support for as low as £37 per month, interest-free, for courses averaging under £300 in total costs. 

If you’re over 16, have left school and do not have a Grade 4 or higher in GCSE English and/or Maths, you may be able to study these subjects for free at a local learning centre. If you feel you might be eligible, contact the learning centre directly to find out more.

Your exam fees are also an additional cost that’s paid directly to the exam centre.

The exact cost of the exam is set by the exam centres themselves, so this can vary a lot in price, but you can expect to pay upwards of £100 per exam for GCSEs and IGCSEs.

We’d highly recommend that you contact multiple exam centres in your area about their pricing, so you can get the best deal.



What can I do to prepare for my exams? 

Now that you know how, where and when you can resit your GCSEs, all that’s left to do it get studying.

Here are our study tips to help you ace those resits:

  1. Find a place for revision that will allow you to concentrate.
  2. Plan out your revision – you might find a study planner or study apps useful.
  3. Use past papers to get exam-ready.
  4. Remember to reward yourself for all your hard work!



When will I get my results for my GCSE resits?

For resits sat in May/June, GCSE and IGCSE results are usually released on the fourth Thursday in August each year.

This year, because of summer 2021 exam cancellations, students' Teacher Assessed Grades are aimed to be released on 12th August. 

If all goes according to plan and you resit Maths in November, you can expect to get your results mid-January. If you resit any IGCSEs in January, you should be able to collect your results in March.


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