GCSE Resits – Your Path to Success!

Here at GoStudent, we believe that second chances exist to be smashed! Some people find GCSE resits disheartening. We’re here to remind you that your GCSE resits could be your path to success! Here is our guide to what GCSE resits are and how you can do well this time! 


  1. How do resits work?
  2. When are the resits?
  3. How can you best prepare for your GCSE resits

How do resits work?

Failing your GCSEs – not achieving a level 4 or above – or just not achieving the grades you had hoped for, can be tough. We’re with you on this. We understand. But we want you to remember that many people don’t manage to get the grades they need on the first attempt – you’re not alone. 

The good news is – and it is good news – that you can retake your GCSE exams in what are known as GCSE resits. GCSE resits are an opportunity for anyone to retake a GCSE exam and get the grade they deserve. 

Sometimes it’s not just your choice alone, and you’ll actually need to retake a GCSE if you’re continuing to study. Many employers beyond school require students to have a passing grade in certain subjects. The type of qualification you’ll need depends on what’s happening next:

  • If you got a grade 3 and will be studying full-time (540+ hours) next year, you’ll need to resit the GCSE
  • If you got a grade 3 and will be studying part-time (150-539 hours), you can take a functional skills qualification instead of a GCSE
  • If you got a grade 2 or below, you can take a functional skills qualification instead of a GCSE
  • If you’re going on to an apprenticeship, studying Maths and English will be part of your programme!

Many colleges and some sixth forms offer opportunities for GCSEs to be re-taken in Year 12 – the year after GCSEs – either on their own or alongside other Key Stage 5 courses. English Language and Maths are the most common retakes because they're a requirement for many jobs. Remember that a level 4 is a pass, so without that, you cannot hold a GCSE in that subject. 

And what about GCSE retakes for 18-year-olds? While GCSEs can be retaken at any age, remember that these retake exams must be self-funded beyond the original sitting. In short, if you choose to retake, you have to pay. Some schools can help out with funding for another attempt, but this is dependent on your local authority. The fee is also dependent on the exam centre. 

Students can either study for a GCSE resit with school or college, or with an online tutor like GoStudent. We know exactly what needs covering, especially for core subjects like English and Maths. Online tutoring will give you the opportunity to study at your own pace.

It doesn’t matter when you left school, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can take your GCSE resits at any age

In school vs private 

If you have decided to retake a GCSE, you have a number of options to choose from. Authorities allow students to resit GCSEs as both school candidates and private candidates. You and your parents are free to decide which option suits you best. 

Resitting at a local school

You can retake the GCSEs through school. You will have a standard timetable, attend the classes, and take the GCSE exams alongside other current GCSE students. 

Your school management is free to decide on the plan on conducting classes for candidates who are retaking GCSEs. While some run special classes that offer quicker and more in-depth revision for repeaters, others might require you to retake the entire year.

It should be noted that if you opt to resit through your current school, you may have the option to resit in the winter term. Why do we say ‘you may have’? It is because not all schools offer specific lessons for students who are taking GCSE resits. But some do! 

While some schools offer classes for Maths and English resits in the winter, it is a good idea to double-check this with your school.

Resitting privately

If you resit privately, it means you need to find what is called an examination centre. This is a place, usually a school, which will allow people from outside the institution to sit the exam in their hall. This means you will have to pay the fee to the exam board, and also a fee to the exam centre. But more than that… you will have to study on your own. 

Whether you are studying through a school or independently, you should consider studying online or hiring a tutor before retaking the relevant GCSEs. Our GoStudent tutors are the perfect fit if you decide to opt for online tutoring. They are experts in their field and have extensive teaching experience, especially when it comes to revision for GCSEs. As well as that, there are a great many benefits to online learning which you don’t get on your own! 🚀

When are the resits?

There are two times you can do your GCSE resits: in the summer and in the winter. 

  • The winter resits usually happen in November, but some exam boards also do them in January. In November, you can retake GCSEs in English Language and Mathematics – for those in Wales, you can also do the Welsh Language GCSE resit in January. 
  • In the summer, you can retake any subject – you will do this at the same time as the Year 11 students. 

Why are the winter mocks only for English Language, Welsh Language and Maths? It is because these subjects are considered to be crucial for most jobs and further study. Some sixth-form colleges will accept students who failed in these subjects, but only if they are willing to resit the GCSEs in which they scored a 3 or below. 

So remember, English Language, Welsh Language and Maths are important! 

Your GCSE will be given by an exam board. The specific date that you take your winter GCSE resit depends on which exam board you use. To make things easier for you, we have collected all of the exam timetables for four of the main exam boards: 😇

Remember, the different exam boards have different exam structures and content – so, if you are studying independently, make sure you pick the right one! If you are retaking it in a school, your teacher will know what to do. 🧑‍🏫

If you opt for online tutoring with GoStudent, you will have a dedicated tutor who can also help you identify the correct content. 

How can you best prepare for your GCSE resits? 

As the famous saying goes, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity! GCSE resits should be seen as an opportunity to succeed. But what is the best way to make the most of that opportunity? It is to dedicate your time and effort into revising as much as possible. 

Here’s a list of tips that will help you to streamline your revision and maintain motivation while studying: 

Analyse mistakes

Mistakes help us grow. They help us understand our shortcomings so that we can work on them.  You should spend a significant amount of time analysing where you fell short last year, both in class and in the exam papers.

If you find time management tough, there are strategies out there that can help! If you struggled with a certain part of the paper, there is specialised revision content out there that can help, so you can focus on specific areas.

Here at GoStudent, we don’t believe in ‘weak points,’ we believe in areas where we have the opportunity to build more. Online learning with a professional tutor is one of the best ways to ‘build more’.

If you want to know more, why not read our GoStudent blogpost on revision strategy

Prioritise topics

Identifying areas with opportunity to build and then not building is a waste. Prioritising revision is one of the most effective ways of structuring your revision time. You can do this either with your dedicated GoStudent online tutor or on your own.

Why find out more about the Pomodoro technique – and maybe even give it a go? 

Revise, revise, revise!

If you want to win, you've got to put in the time. Those Olympic athletes you see on TV, the legendary football players,  they’re not just born that way – they’ve spent all of their lives training. 

If you want to be good at something, you need to put in the time. So when it comes to GCSE resits, the secret is this… Revise! Revise! Revise! Revise everything – including the content you think you already know. 

Create a routine ⏰

We don’t just mean a revision routine, we mean a life routine! We mean regular bedtimes, eating well, and making time for self-care. A routine can help you to maintain a healthy balance so you can juggle your work and not become overwhelmed.

While GCSE resits might seem daunting, it is important to remember that it is not the end of the world. You can still get into excellent colleges if you have the grades and confidence to back their applications by resitting your GCSEs.

Preparing for a GCSE resit is all about strategy. With the right plan of action, you can utilise your time well and get through your resits with as little stress as possible.

Online classes come with many benefits. One of those is that they can help you create that routine. If you have a tutor that you are accountable to, you will find it easier to focus and revise. GoStudent allows you to retake your GCSEs at a pace that works for you. 

Whatever you choose to do, wherever you choose to do it, we want to wish you the very best of luck with your GCSE resits! 

If you want to give online tutoring a try, you can book a free trial now.