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GCSEs not gone to plan? Our experts offer advice

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image captionSamrita Hayer and Catherine Sezen are offering personalised answers to your questions

For anyone whose grades have fallen short this year, we have experts ready to answer your questions.

Catherine Sezen, a senior curriculum expert at the Association of Colleges, and Samrita Hayer, education co-ordinator and careers adviser with the National Careers Service, are offering personalised advice on what to do if your grades are different to what you were hoping for.

Your questions answered

Rebecca, Cheshire

My daughter just failed her maths GCSE for the second time despite me paying for a private tutor for a whole year, costing £1,000. She really struggles in exams and now her apprenticeship is in jeopardy. She's so unhappy and demoralised. This time she failed by 11 marks. Is it worth asking for a re-mark? Also what help is available for people who struggle in exam conditions?

I am so sorry to hear that your daughter has not passed her GCSE resit. All young people need to continue studying English and maths post-16 if they haven't achieved a GCSE at 4 or above.

The best thing to do to speak to your daughter's college about a review of marking. They are best placed to advise on your daughter's individual circumstances. You may also ask to speak to student services at the college about support that might be available to your daughter, to help her prepare for assessments and cope during exams.


It might be helpful to start off by asking the school whether it's worth getting a re-mark as they will be aware of your daughter's progress in the subject.

This link shows how many grades were changed in re-marks last year.

In regard to the apprenticeship, it might be worth speaking to the training provider to ask if they offer any alternative maths courses to do alongside the training, for example, a functional skills level 2 course and if there's any further support she can get in maths.

The Exam Results Helpline on 0800 100 900 can also offer some further guidance on maths GCSE, functional skills and apprenticeship options in relation to the career path that your daughter would like to take.


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My granddaughter got 12 grade 9s. Where does this sit her in the UK rankings?

Your granddaughter has done really well. Congratulations to her! A total of 837 students achieved 7+ grade 9s. Your granddaughter is one of 10 students in England who achieved 12 grade 9 passes. Grade 9s make up 4.5% of all entries.


Brilliant, well done to your granddaughter for getting these grades!

You can see a breakdown of results in England on Ofqual's website, including the number of grade 9s. It reveals that 10 students gained all grade 9s in their GCSEs in England this year.


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Kamal, Birmingham

My son was expecting 8 or 9 in biology, maths and computer science but ended up with 8 in maths and 6s in biology and computer science. Is there any way we can get a copy of the marked answer sheet and get them rechecked? The result is not too bad but still a bit disappointing.

First of all, your son has done really well to get the grades he has achieved. I appreciate though that he might be a bit disappointed if he was expecting higher grades. I would suggest contacting his school and asking their advice on whether a review of marking would be a good idea. In the meantime, these grades are an excellent foundation for future success.


First, congratulations on your son gaining these grades. Although they might be lower than he expected, they are still great results.

It might be worth checking the course your son would like to get on to. It may be the level-6 grades meet the entry requirements.

I would also advise you speak to the school, so they can explain if and how you can get a copy of the marked answer sheet. Another option is looking into getting your son's biology and computer science paper re-marked. It's worth keeping in mind that whatever mark your son gets in a re-mark will be the final mark - and marks can go down as well as up.

I hope this helps.


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I got 3 in English and maths and now I can't go for my level-three course. I'm afraid about my parents' reaction and I don't know what to do. Any advice?

Your parents want the best for you, so researching your options open will help when you're telling them.

Most employers and training providers look for the grade 4 in English and maths.

But there may be other routes into your chosen career path.

Ask the the learning provider offering the course if they:

  • will accept the grades you have received
  • will allow you to resit your maths and English alongside the level-three course
  • offer other suitable courses

If you would like further guidance, speak to our exam results helpline on 0800 100 900.

I hope this is helpful and best of luck.


I am sorry to hear you didn't get the grades you were expecting. The best thing to do is to take some careers advice from your school or your local college. There are opportunities to retake both English and maths alongside a college course. You may have to do a level-two course in your first year but you will then be able to progress to a level-three course next September.


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Anonymous, Solihull

I really struggled with my mental health this year and it was touch and go whether I would manage to take my GCSEs at all. But I did and I am delighted with my grades - but unfortunately my school has very strict entry requirements for sixth form and so I am not being allowed back there for my A-levels. It almost feels as if they don't care about the last year. What should I do?

I am so pleased to hear you have overcome such hurdles to achieve your GCSEs - well done. I would suggest you take some advice on next steps from your school and local colleges. There will be a range of options to meet your interests and ensure you feel well supported through the next stage of your education.


I would first like to congratulate you on your results and it's great you're getting some advice on your next steps.

There are always options and different routes available for everyone. If you are intent on studying at your sixth form, then you may want to speak with them about your circumstances. You can also ask about their admissions appeals process, if you do not feel they are taking your mitigating circumstances into consideration. Another option is to check out other sixth forms.

You could also look at different training, such as apprenticeships and college courses, depending on your career goals.

The exam results helpline on 0800 100 900 is a great place to start.

I hope this helps - good luck,


Related Topics

  • Sixth form
  • GCSEs
  • Careers
  • Colleges
  • Exams

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