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A Complete Guide to A Level Retakes

As a student, if you didn’t get the A Level grades you had hoped for, deciding what to do next can feel a little overwhelming. Do you go through Clearing and choose a different course? Or should you stay on at school or college and retake your A-Levels? It’s important however to remember not to panic, as not getting the results you wanted does not mean that you’re out of options.

Chris Randell, Principal at Abbey College Manchester, shares an insight into A Level retakes, and how they can help students to get back on track.

Can I retake my A-Levels? 

In short, yes you can! Plenty of students retake their A-Levels and there’s no shame in trying to improve your grades and be the best you can be.

Should I retake my A-Levels? 

When you have big dreams for your future, settling for your second, third or fourth choice university can be a huge let-down. 

The first thing to do is think about why you might not have done as well as you’d hoped in your exams. If you had studied hard and feel you could make an improvement, then resitting your A-Levels could pay off. 

You might have your heart set on a particular career, such as Law, Medicine, or Engineering and to access these professions, you’ll need a specific degree. 

What’s more, the most prestigious universities are extremely competitive to get into unless you have top grades. 

So, by retaking your A-Levels and improving your grades, you could get into a better university and fulfil your dream.

Do universities accept A-Level retakes? 

Yes – many students successfully enter higher education after retaking their A-Levels. 

Universities, even the top Russell Group institutions, shouldn’t penalise you for resitting. Some universities will be happy to keep your offer open for the following year. What’s more, they are happy to take students of all ages, so don’t feel you have to go at the age of 18. 

When resitting your A-Levels, your school, college or Sixth Form should provide support with a new UCAS application. You can explain your reasons for resitting in your personal statement.

At Abbey College Manchester for example, we provide full UCAS application support to students as a part of the course. Students who choose to do our One-Year Intensive Retake A-Levels programme can either apply using Abbey College Manchester or via their former school or college if they prefer.

Should I retake A-Levels or go through Clearing? 

Although you may feel you want to go to university straight away, try not to just pick any random course through Clearing. You could waste your time and money – especially if you end up dropping out during the course. It’s much better to resit your A-Levels, take your time and reapply to a course that you want to do at a higher-ranking institution.

It’s worth noting that not all universities take part in Clearing, including Oxbridge institutions (the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge) and some of the most competitive Russell Group universities.

Although you may find a Clearing option that suits you, always talk to your school or college careers advisor about the advantages and disadvantages of any Clearing offers you receive.

Where can I retake my A-Levels? 

You might be able to do A-Level resits at your school or sixth form, or even study online. But if you don’t want to go back to school and you’re ready for a new, more adult environment, you could consider a specialist independent college such as Abbey College Manchester.

Retaking your A-Level subjects in small classes – on average with around 9 students – is great preparation for university. What’s more, you’ll meet other students who are on the same journey.

When can I retake my A-Levels?

A-Level resit exams will be held in the summer, usually on a date in May or June, at the same time as everyone else. Unfortunately, January resits are no longer available. 

This approach aims to make sure that students have enough time to study and prepare for the exam, especially if you’re working alongside your studies.

Will more students be resitting their A-Levels this year? 

According to UCAS, competition for university places is greater than ever this year, which means students who don’t get their predicted grades will find it harder to get into their first-choice university. What’s more, courses that have always been competitive – such as Medicine and Dentistry – are even more so this year. 

The reasons behind this are two-fold. Firstly, the population of 18-year-olds has grown, and a greater proportion of students have applied to university. Secondly, lots of students who should have begun their course in 2020 or 2021 deferred their place due to the pandemic and will now start this year – meaning much fewer available places. 

For more information on Abbey College Manchester and the one year retake A Levels, visit:

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