ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A LEVEL RETAKES
If you are worried you haven’t achieved the A level grades you hoped for, then don’t panic. There are several options available and one of them is retaking your A levels. Although the thought might seem unappealing at first, taking the time to improve your grades may well turn out to be a worthwhile and rewarding decision. Indeed, many of our retake students end up with grades even higher than they initially expected and go on to universities that they thought were beyond their reach. You can find out all you need to know about A level retakes on the advice pages here on our website.
What are the benefits of A level retake courses?
Our prospective retake students are typically distraught when they visit us for the first time having just received their A level results, but by the time summer comes they always tell us how worthwhile it has all been. Many of them look forward to gaining a place at an even better university than they had originally planned and achieve an outstanding set of A level results which will undoubtedly impress on their CV for years and years.
A number of A level retake courses, including our own, are conducted one-to-one or in very small groups which allows tutors to recognise and rectify the problems that your busy school teachers previously glossed over and which caused you to trip up the first time. Dealing with issues such as exam technique, time management, essay writing and revision can often be at least equally important as the academic subject matter, so improving these skills on an A level retake course is also a huge benefit in terms of developing your independent study skills before you start at university.
A further advantage of doing A level resits at a sixth form college is that you will usually be able to study in a more mature environment, which will be great to prepare you for university. Rather than calling your teachers ‘Sir’ you will be on a first-name basis with highly qualified and experienced tutors, and this will give you the confidence to engage and interact with people possessing impressive academic credentials who can teach you a great deal if you are brave enough to pick their brains!
What about my new UCAS application?
Although some schools may redo their students’ UCAS applications the following year, others will not. Generally it is better to have your UCAS reference supported by the sixth form college where you are enrolled on your A level retake course – after all, your new tutors will be best-placed to discuss all the improvements you are making and will have the authority to give new predictions. Some private sixth form colleges have been making successful UCAS applications for several years, and it is quite probable that they have more experience and expertise than your previous school. We lead the field in terms of supporting students’ UCAS applications and on average a staggering 75% of our students – including our retake students – go on to take up places at the top Russell Group universities.
At Westminster Tutors, we give our retake students time to settle in before getting detailed references and predictions around half term in October. This is combined with a request for your UCAS reference from your previous school. Although schools may not be willing to share references with the students, they are always able to send these directly to us.
Retake students often worry that their UCAS application may be affected due to the fact that they are resitting A levels. It can be that Oxford and Cambridge, a couple of other top universities and highly competitive courses like Medicine are not usually likely to offer places to A level retake applicants without strong mitigating circumstances for their results the first time round. However, in recent years we have even been successful with these universities/ courses, as students have opted to enhance their applications with an additional subject and have benefitted from our expert support.
Of course gaining a place at Oxford or Cambridge is always far from guaranteed, but otherwise the outlook is far more encouraging. Nearly all of the Russell Group universities will offer places to students who are retaking A levels, although very occasionally they may ask one A level grade to increase. Although this could be complicated for a novice, we can provide specialised guidance for retake applicants as we guide them through researching university choices in order to develop a strong UCAS strategy. Every year the vast majority of our students gain their place at their first choice university, so we really do know what we are doing!
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