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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, especially during Covid-19. In this blog, we'll talk you through how GCSEs can inform your next steps.

Your GCSEs are 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.


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

Yes. The entry requirements for getting into sixth form or college can vary a lot.

Generally, four to five C grades (4 and 5 under the new grading system) are expected, while you might need higher marks in the subjects you want to study. 

Your GCSE grades are the only real sign colleges have of how well you could do at A Level, which is why they’re such a big factor in your eligibility. Colleges just want to make sure further education is right for you. 

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. You never know if they’ll be willing to be flexible, especially under current circumstances. 

Do GCSE grades affect the universities you can go to? 


The more competitive the university and course, the higher the standard of applicants. This means, for popular courses 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. But it will depend on the course 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 marks. 

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 remark. 


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 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 courses, 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 course pages to make sure you wouldn't be harming your application. 

Getting your results is scary. It can feel like your whole future hangs on the outcome of your GCSEs, but only you can decide what your future looks like. To learn about other students’ journeys to university, why not online chat with our current students?