Carshalton Tutorial College

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Maths, Science(Physics, Chemistry, Biology) and Computer Science A Level Resits

A Typical Results Scenario

A typical scenario related to A Level resits is one such as the following.

August and your A level results have arrived. To your great disappointment the grades you obtained are not the grades you wanted. Amongst the various possible option is that of retaking your A Level to obtain better grades. This may be the result of changes to the A Level syllabi. A Levels have become harder and the old modular A Levels have been replaced with linear A Levels in which all the exams are taken at one sitting. The whole exam will need to be retaken. The only exception to this is the practical coursework, which will not need to be redone.

Options

Firstly it is important to examine your options and to start planning sooner rather than later. Unless a firm decision to retake has been taken various other options need to be examined, for example :

  • Should you accept your insurance university offer?
  • Should you enter UCAS Clearing?
  • Should you retake?

Even if you are planning on taking a GAP year you should avoid leaving the question as to whether to retake or not until later. In general it is a good idea to plan well ahead and to start work on sorting out your next UCAS application for the coming year.
Questions to ask and things to consider include

  • What are my career plans and ambitions – where do I want to be in three or four years time, and what career path to I wish to follow?
  • How wide is the gap between the grades I obtained and the grades I need to get a place on my chosen course at my preferred Universities , and how can I bridge this gap?
  • Where do I want to be and what is my ideal next stage?

The answer to the last question may not always be clear cut.
You may feel confused, especially if you were not sure on your future career path when you embarked on your A Level studies.
Your confidence may be dented and, maybe, an alternative career choice may be better suited to your interests and abilities.

Working out what your true aims are can very much help with your motivation. Motivation may have suffered considerably if the results were something of a shock. There is also the risk that accepting disappointment and jumping straight into UCAS Clearing to get whatever course is offered may result in accepting a second-best course which you may well regret later.

How wide is the gap and what can be done to bridge that gap?

The main concern here is to come up with a realistic assessment of how much will be required to bridge the gap. Factors to consider would include, e.g.
What results did you get at GCSE and in the lower sixth, and were the marks you obtained consistent with the A-level grades you obtained?
How did your sixth form career turn out, what grades did you obtain in your A Level mocks and what UCAS predicitions did you get?
School reports and teacher observations regarding things such as work habits, skills, exam technique may be quite relevant here.


How well did you prepare for the exams and how did things turn out on the days you were taking exams ? For example were there family or relationship problems, or maybe illness such as, for example, hay fever or a cold ?
How did your teachers react to the grades you obtained e.g. were they disappointed ?
Do you have any ideas as to what might have gone wrong and what you need to do to improve ?
What do your teachers say about the grades you got? Are they encouraging, are they disappointed and how do you feel about their advice ?
How good is your written work, especially when done under pressure ?

Bridging the Gap:

The key decision to make here is to decide on a possible pattern of study. This will depend, of course, on factors such as deciding on what is best to resit. This will involve balancing factors such as timescales, motivation and workload, and ability to cope with stress.
It does without saying that a minimalist approach will leave little margin for safety. However, possible options include
  • September to June study – the recommended approach if there are significant gaps in knowledge and academic skills and a considerable improvement in grades is required. A one year course may also provide an opportunity to add a new subject to the mix of A Levels being taken.
  • January/February to June study – probably a good choice where the number of subjects to retake is two, and the improvement sought is two to three A Level grades, and where the improvement sought is consistent with the ability of the student.
  • Easter study option – involves taking an intensive Easter revision course and then studying hard through the summer term. If taking this approach then support and tutoring between Easter and the exam may be very valuable.

A Level Mock Resits :

A Level Mock exams have an important bearing on A Level grade predictions. They can also serve to highlight gaps in knowledge and understanding. Many schools offer the chance to resit mocks immediately after the Summer holidays. Considerations similar to those discussed for A Level resits apply here to.
A focused tutor led approach can really help here as a good tutor should be able to quickly pick up on weaknesses and areas of difficulty, and also provide practice and guidance on “exam taking skills and strategies”. Especially useful is the use of effective revision and knowledge organisation techniques such as the “use of concept maps”, being able to “deconstruct exam questions”, learning to focus on the essential aspects of answering questions that maximise the number of marks obtained.
Sensitive tutoring can also improve confidence and , via staged practice help overcome “exam associated anxiety.”

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