GCSE results day is a momentous occasion for any teen who’s sat an exam this year. If you (or your child) get the grades expected you can proceed with your plans, whether they’re to head into further education or take up an apprenticeship.

But if like many others you’re left with questions about options moving forward after getting better than anticipated results or you’re deciding if resits are right for you, we’ve got everything you need to know.

Options following GCSE results

What happens if I/my child gets better grades than expected? Can I rethink the previous choices I made?

First of all, congratulations. If you’ve done better in your exams than expected, all your hard work has certainly paid off.

If you’ve now got more options open to you or you’re thinking about a change in plans, you can have a rethink. Many college courses will still have places available but for the most popular competition may be high. You’ll need to move and make a decision quickly in order to secure a place to start in September.

Each college will have slightly different processes so it’s best to approach them directly

What options do I have if I don’t get the grades I want?

If you didn’t get the grades you want, don’t panic, you still have lots of options to choose from.

Firstly, if your grades don’t impact on your next steps, you can still choose to proceed. If your grades mean you now need to make alternative plans, for instance if they did not meet the necessary marks for a college course, you have a few options:

  1. You can search and apply for courses that have a lower grade boundary, allowing you still to start in September.
  2. Resit your exams over the course of the next year, with the aim of reapplying for a 2018 start.
  3. Choose a different path. You can still apply for apprenticeships and other positions if you don’t meet your projected grades.

If you didn’t get the grades you wanted, your first step should be to talk to your teacher, who will be able to offer you advice. If you haven’t quite made the mark for the course you had in mind, you can also contact your college, depending on other results they may be willing to still accept your application.

How do the new numerical grades affect my future educational and career choices?

This is the first year that the new numerical grades are being used but it should have been factored into any application process. If you’ve applied for college or apprenticeship positions, the necessary marks you needed to obtain should have been given to you in this form.

However, there is still some level of confusion about how grades will translate and the percentage of students that will achieve each mark. It could mean the boundaries for educational and career choices are changed to reflect the overall results that are achieved this year.

Appealing GCSE marks

Can I appeal my results?

If you believe your results don’t match your abilities or you just missed out on a grade, you can ask for your paper to be remarked. However, there is a charge of around £20 for this that will only be reimbursed if the examiners do decide to change your grade. The deadline for enquires about results must be made by 21 September 2017.

What is the process and when would I know?

If you’re considering making an appeal following your GCSE results there is a process to follow:

  • First, speak to your teacher. They’ll be able to offer you guidance and assess the mark you were awarded based on your abilities.
  • Most of the time, the school will make an enquiry on your behalf, lending you their support. The enquiry process can take up to 30 days and can include a clerical re-check, marking review, and assessment of scripts.
  • If you’re not successful you do have the option of appealing the decision, escalating it for the review of exam board regulator Ofqual. An appeal will need to be made through your school or college and within 14 days of receiving the result of your initial review.

What chance do I stand of improvement or even lowering my mark?

In the past thousands of GCSE grades have been changed following an appeal – in 2015 the figure was around 62,000. In 99% of cases, the grade was revised upwards, while only a small margin received a lower mark as a result.

However, changes have been brought in which has lowered the number of changes being made but with the new numerical grades being in operation for the first time, it’s likely that there will be an increase this year as examiners interpret the new marking system.

GCSE resits

When is it worth resitting and when is it not?

Whether or not you should resit, it can be a tricky decision and one that’s completely personal. If your future plans require you to complete a course that you currently can’t do because of your results, undertaking your resits are worth it. If you’re simply disappointed with your grades but they don’t impact on your plans, it’s worth weighing up what you’ll gain by retaking them and taking the time out to study for them.

When do I have to make decisions about resits?

Retaking exams is a big decision and one you shouldn’t make lightly. That being said, you should make your decision within a few weeks of receiving your results, allowing you to start classes and study sessions from the beginning. The exact cut off date will vary between schools and colleges but more are willing to be flexible when necessary. Your teachers should be around when you go to fetch your final marks and be on hand to offer advice around when you need to decide by.

When would they take place?

Resits for English Language and Maths can be sat in November if you think you’ll be ready within this time frame.

For all other subjects, you will need to wait until June 2018 to complete your resits. If it’s not a resit that’s vital for your college course, you can typically prepare for them alongside your other studies.

What do resits entail?

Resits for the new GCSE will typically follow the same pattern as your previous year of study, with you taking your exams in June 2018. Most colleges will require you to frequently attend classes and you’ll pick up your results in a year’s time.

If you’re resitting maths or English, the process will be slightly different, as you can complete these in November. Usually for these, you’ll undertake intensive revision classes over the next few months with the aim of raising your grade over a short time period.

When should I start revising?

As with any exam, the sooner you start to study the better. The more you get used to doing practice papers and recalling the information that you’ve learnt, the easier the exam process will be. You should have classes that cover those topics that you’ll be resitting if you’re completing them next year and revision sessions if you’re doing a maths or English resit in November for you to attend.

Are they easier the second time around?

Many people find that exams are easier the second time around but it’s personal. When doing a resit you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and the areas that you struggled on the first time, allowing for targeted studying. With an improved mindset and revision that covers everything you need, you should be able to head into you resit better prepared.