CIFE colleges are the A-level resit experts and have been providing effective A-level retake courses for many years. All the benefits of small-group teaching, the focus on the individual and the more adult environment come into play in getting good results from our A level retake course students. Getting support from experienced retake specialists at a CIFE college is the most effective way of maximising your chances of getting the grade you need second time round.

Rather than go into more detail about benefits, we thought it might be really helpful to go through the first question you need to ask yourself Should I resit/retake my A-level(s)?

It’s August. You’ve got your A-level results. They’re not what you wanted and you are wondering what to do next. One option is to resit in order to get better grades, but is that worth the trouble? You will need information about retaking (see the page on FAQs about A-level resits/retakes), and you may need expert advice.  A-level retake courses at CIFE colleges may be just what you're looking for, or they might not be relevant to your particular circumstances. It's always worth checking Clearing before opting to retake- there may still be places at your target university.

First some words about the need to make plans quickly. Unless you already know that you will be retaking, you need to do your thinking fast. Do you accept your insurance university offer, do you enter UCAS Clearing, or do you resit? If you are taking a GAP year anyway it’s tempting to leave the question until later, but don’t leave it too long. In general it’s better to plan well ahead, and you’ll need to sort out next year’s UCAS application pretty quickly anyway.

A-level Resits/Retakes 2022

In August 2022 exam grades will be issued in the usual way by the examination boards rather than teacher or centre assessed grades as was the case in 2020 and 2021. Exam resits are only available in May/June. There are no autumn or January sittings, unless you have sat Cambridge International A levels.  Depending on your target grades you may be best advised to take a full one year resit course or a January to June one. CIFE colleges will be able to advise you of the different routes available.

A good adviser will help you sort out the answers to four questions:

Where do I want to be?

What’s my ideal next stage, once I leave A-levels behind? What degree course do I really want to get onto, and where? The answer may be crystal clear, or you may be pretty confused, especially if you were not all that sure to start with. Until you know what A-level grades you need, it’s hard to decide whether A-level resit courses are worth it.

It’s tempting to say ‘Well I need better results anyway so I’ll just get on with retaking, without deciding exactly what I’m aiming at’, or ‘I’ll just take whatever course I can get with the grades I’ve got’. But working out what you are aiming for really does help motivation (which will have taken a knock if your results were a shock). And there’s a real risk that accepting disappointment and jumping into UCAS Clearing to get whatever you can may leave you with a second-best course you regret later.

How wide is the gap?

What’s the gap between the grades you got and the grades you need for your target university? This sounds an easy question to answer, but what you really need to know is how easy it will be to bridge that gap. Working this out will involve analysing your background in some detail.

  • What results did you get at GCSE and in lower sixth, and were those marks consistent with the A-level grades you actually got?
  • What were your UCAS predictions and mock exam results, and how did your academic skills develop during the sixth form ?
  • What do your teachers say about you? What did they feel about your work habits, skills, exam technique etc ?
  • What happened to you in the exam room? Did you put in plenty of practice, did you misplay the exams, were you ill etc ?
  • What do your teachers say about the grades you got? Are they genuinely surprised you didn't get higher grades, and how do you feel about their advice ?
  • What do you think went wrong and what do you need to improve? You probably already know most of what you need to do to get better grades.
  • What’s your written work like ? Take work along for your adviser to see, ideally work done under time pressure.

Taking all this into account a skilled adviser can help you work out whether you are looking at an easy task, mission impossible or something in between.

How can I bridge that gap?

Having built up a picture of your potential, and the improvements you need to make, it’s time to look at the possible patterns of study towards retaking. This will involve reviewing your A-level marks, and helping you work out what’s best to resit, balancing workload, timescales, motivation and safety. Taking the minimum leaves little margin of safety if something doesn’t go right. See FAQs about A level resits/retakes for more details

Each student is different, which is why good advice is important. However,  what fits for you is likely to involve one or both of:

January/February to June study: This may suit you if you need to retake one or two subjects to improve by one or two A level grades, and if that improvement is consistent with your demonstrated ability.

September to June study: You will need to take a year over retakes if you have major gaps in academic skills as well as knowledge and you need to improve your grades considerably. A one-year course will cover everything in detail and can enable you to take a completely new subject as part of the mix if you need to. See our one-year A levels page for more detail

What about the Easter option...
If you only need to improve results a little you might consider leaving it until Easter to resume studies. You could then take an Easter Revision course and study hard through to the summer exam. This is riskier because it leaves you less time and relies a great deal on your own motivation. Some structured support between Easter and the exam might help, though you’re unlikely to find a formal course which runs Easter to June. It’s really essential to get advice if you are thinking of doing this!

So, should I retake ?

Once you have answers to the first three questions you’ll be in a much better position to answer this one. You’ll have a clearer idea of what retaking would involve in terms of time and cost, and you should also have a realistic idea of whether that is likely to be worth-while in terms of the future options you might gain.

We can help!

CIFE colleges would be glad to help you work out the right answers, and delighted to provide you with  appropriate A level retake courses. CIFE colleges know retakes inside out and their expertise isn't just about exam-aware teaching, it is also about helping you understand where you went wrong last time and supporting you to make sure you don't go wrong again.

You would be welcome to visit a CIFE college for no-obligation advice. Just email or phone. Bring along reports, your results slips, and examples of written work, done under timed conditions. If you've got a copy of your UCAS form bring that along too.

Most people are pretty gloomy at the start of a retake course, and helping you feel positive about your prospects is one of the features of effective teaching. You should quickly find that you are moving forward rather than simply repeating last year's learning.

Not only will better results get you into a better degree course, but the experience of retaking will probably make you a better university student too. Many CIFE college students look back at their year retaking A levels as the most successful and enjoyable time of their secondary education, gaining the skills and confidence they needed for the future as well as the exam grades required for that coveted university place.

GCSE resits

Much of the above applies to GCSE retake courses too, and you'll find more information on our GCSE courses at CIFE colleges page.


Need any help?

Please feel free to contact us for no-obligation, independent advice; either by calling us on 0208 767 8666 or by filling in the form below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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