2 min read

How important are GCSEs?

How important are GCSEs?

by Katherine Hanrahan

It can be hard to think further than school or college when you're a young person. In this blog, we'll talk you through how GCSEs can inform your next steps and why they could be the jumping-off point for your future.

In this blog, we’ve explained just how important GCSE grades are. And the options available to you, should you be disappointed with your grades on Results Day.



  1. Do GCSE grades affect the sixth form or college you can go to?

  2. Do GCSE grades affect the universities you can go to?

  3. What to do if you don't get the GCSE grades you want

  4. Getting your exams remarked

  5. Resitting your exams


How important are GCSEs to your sixth form or college application? 

The entry requirements can vary a lot, but GCSEs are required for getting into sixth form or college.

Generally, four to five GCSEs at grades 4 and 5 are expected, while you might need higher marks in the subjects you want to study. 

Your GCSE grades are the only real sign colleges and sixth forms have of how well you could do at A Level, which is why they’re such a big factor in your eligibility. 

However, if you do find you don’t get the grades you need to get into your chosen college or sixth form, you should get in touch with them in case they're willing to be flexible.


Do GCSE grades affect the universities you can go to? 


The more competitive the university and degree programme, the higher the standard of applicants. This means, for popular degrees at Russell Group universities, your GCSEs may affect your eligibility. 

However, this isn’t the case for all universities and, although not common, it is possible for good A Levels to make up for bad GCSEs. However, it will depend on the degree and the applicant’s individual circumstances. 

In many cases, where a student's application isn’t clear cut, Admissions teams will look at the applicant’s personal statement to make the final call.




What to do if you don't get the GCSE grades you want

Although your GCSEs are important, don't feel as though your future plans have been derailed if you’re disappointed with your grades. 

In fact, you still have lots of options available to you - whatever your grades come GCSE Results Day. 

For starters, once you’ve adjusted to the news, speak to your teachers or careers adviser about your next steps. 

You could also explore having your grades re-marked or resisting some of your exams. 


Getting your exams remarked

If you think your exam results aren’t fair or correct, you should talk to your school or college. 

You can’t make an inquiry directly to the examining board yourself, so you will need your school’s backing to pursue a re-mark. 


Resitting your exams

You can resit English literature, language and maths GCSEs in November. 

Though they may be hard to study for in addition to your college and sixth form studies, it’s not impossible - and many students take this route each year. 

Alternatively, if you need to resit more subjects, you may need to wait until next summer. 

However, before you pursue resits, you should know that for very competitive degree programmes, universities don’t accept GCSE retakes. So, if you already have an idea of the university you’d like to apply to, double check their entry requirements on their degree pages to make sure you won't be harming your application.