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A-Level & GCSE Retake Courses – everything you need to know
March 16, 2017
If you find yourself in a position where you are thinking about resiting your GCSE or A Level examinations you may be feeling slightly disheartened. But don’t be, retaking your GCSE’s or A-level’s couldn’t be easier!
We understand that it can be disappointing and upsetting if you discover that you haven’t achieved the results you’d hoped for. However, it is important to remember that it is far from the end of the world. You still have plenty of options, including the opportunity to resit your exams, meaning that you have another chance to achieve the grade you believe you are capable of achieving.
Why would you retake your GCSE or A Level exams?
If you have failed your GCSE or A Level examinations and needed to gain some qualifications.
If you want a higher grade than the one you have already achieved- some pupils find that, while they might have done well, their results do not match what they had expected or what they want, and therefore retake to try and improve their grade.
If you need a particular grade to get into a university course as Universities and professions often require certain grades in specific subjects. Thus some students may choose to retake if they didn’t manage to achieve what they needed to be accepted into a particular course or university.
Adult learners – those who have found a renewed interest in the subject and want to re-sit it. Maybe the revision courses weren’t available when they were at school, so they want to try to gain additional qualifications now that they are.
Pro’s and Cons of retaking GCSE’s and A-Levels
GCSE and A Level qualifications are those that most Universities and colleges look at. Doing well in your GCSE’s will determine which subjects you go on to study at A Level, which can ultimately influence which course you choose to study at university. It’s much harder to jump into an A-Level course without having taken the GCSE first, so, if you fail or don’t do as well as you hoped at GCSE level, retaking your exams is well worth considering.
Most jobs require a minimum of a C or above in GCSE Maths and English. Even if you have no desire to go to university or college, apprenticeships usually require some qualifications for you to be considered for a place. The better qualifications you have, the more education and job opportunities will be available to you.
Retaking right away means that you still have a good amount of knowledge stored in your short-term memory. The longer you wait the more likely you are to forget the information, resulting in an increased amount of revision hours.
Re-sitting exams takes time and can cause disruption to a student’s education. If there is too much focus on re-sitting exams instead of moving on and learning new material or accepting that perhaps this particular subject is not where your strengths lie, you could end up falling behind in other subjects.
Creates a sense of apathy. It’s paramount not to see the opportunity to re-sit as an excuse not to try your best first time round. Having an attitude of ‘I can always do it again’ is dangerous for self-discipline when it comes to revision and if you can do well first time it is much less hassle!
Schools may not be able to provide the resources to help students who wish to resit their exams. Schools are overstretched as it is and therefore if you do decide to retake you may have to undertake revision and study in your own time. However, hiring a private tutor to help go through course material and work through any areas you had trouble with before, is a fantastic alternative to ensure you give yourself the best chance of success.
You may still not get the grade you require which can feel disappointing and frustrating.
Resitting exams costs money. Each time you decide to retake an exam you have to pay an entry fee and doing this time and time again can add up. You may also wish to hire a private tutor to help with your revision and this is an additional expense. However, at Tutor House we aim to make tutoring available to everyone, with some of our tutors offering to teach for just £20 per hour. Choosing an affordable tutor can mean you achieve that desired grade first time round, saving you time and money in the long run.
What are the alternatives to GCSE and A Level resits?
If you don’t feel as though resitting your exams is the right option for you, there are still plenty of alternative paths that you can consider to help you continue your education or start your career. For example, there are many opportunities for apprenticeships which don’t require you to have any formal qualifications, so these are worth looking into if you haven’t managed to pass any of your exams. You can find out more about apprenticeships here.
Work Experience or internships – if you can get work experience or an internship in an industry you love, you could end up being offered a more permanent role.
Volunteering – do some valuable volunteer work in an area you are interested in. This will look great on your cv which could lead to a paid role. It will also make you feel happy to know you are giving something back too!
Taking a break – you don’t have to resit your exams right away! Explore different avenues and options, and take the time to think about what it right for you. Sometimes getting some distance can help you to think about what you really need, and if you do decide to come back and resit your exams, you can always refresh your knowledge by hiring a tutor to help you.
Resitting your GCSE or A Levels can be advantageous for many reasons, but it is important to think carefully before you decide to. By hiring a tutor to keep you focused, work through difficult topics and help with your revision strategy you will give yourself the best chance of success.
How to write the perfect personal statement in 2013/14
October 15, 2013
How to write the perfect personal statement in 2013/14
Just like a sales pitch, a student’s personal statement is one of the main contributing factors of getting into your desired university.
Remember, you will be one of thousands of prospective university students all pitching their own case for getting into University. Therefore, whatever you end up writing needs to be great.
Instead of sitting down and slogging out page after page of nothingness, here are a few basic tips to keep in mind before you start:
1. A personal statement should be no longer than 4,000 characters in length
2. Always start with a bang. Write a ‘wow’ sentence draw in the reader’s interest
3. Use consistent, professional and neat formatting, and don’t exceed 47 lines (make sure you double check this when uploading your statement on to the UCAS website)
4. Divide the overall content into four main sections:
– Why you want to study the chosen course at that particular University
– What you’ve done to date (or in the near future) that’s relevant to the course
– Your work experience and the key skills you’ve picked up
– All other activities that could make you stand out as well rounded person
5. Write with passion and interest. Writing a personal statement isn’t just something you ‘have’ to do. It’s your chance to really get across why you want to go into further education.
6. Make sure the whole statement is100% free of grammatical errors.
7. Listen to the advice from your teachers and parents – they’ve all done it before!
8. Be 100% honest and genuine. Even the smallest of white lies could prevent you from gaining a placement if found to be untrue!
9. Write it from the heart. Show the reader how much you really want this. (But don’t be cheesy)
10. This is your one chance to really sell yourself!
Writing your personal statement
Word document open, line spacing set to 1.5, easy to read Sans Serif font and intimidating blank screen in front of you; it’s time to draw attention to your case with a ‘wow’ opening sentence.
Along with the conclusion, your opening sentence is arguably the most important one you’ll write. It should set the tone for the rest of your personal statement and draw the reader’s interest in. A division of around 40% of the personal statement should be devoted to why you want to study the chosen course. Ensure that your opening sentence / paragraph introduces your reasons and is suitably backed up by the inspirations behind them.
A good example of an opening sentence may be; “Reading Professor Stephen Hawking’s `A brief history of time’ first awakened my interest in natural sciences, and in particular, physics”.
Try to avoid writing generic sentences and phrases such as ‘I am passionate about leaning’ and ‘I am very hard working’. In truth these types of statements really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, they can sound cheesy and most importantly, they waste precious words!
Always write from the heart and be credible. If it’s not obvious, you need to sit down and really work out why you have chosen this degree. Did you read a book, see a TV programme or do some work experience? Maybe you’ve always been interested in this degree and it’s been a lifelong passion? Once you’ve got to grips with why you want to spend 3 – 4 years studying your degree, present your reasons concisely, personalise what you say and relate your reasons to your past experiences.
You should always avoid making throwaway comments like ‘Because my dad’s a doctor’, or ‘it was the one thing I could think of that interested me’. As you write, demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the course and make sure what you write supports your decision to study it.
Previous Academic Experience
This section of your personal statement should inform the reader what you have been doing with your life to date that’s relevant to your chosen course. If you don’t like reading vast chunks of text then a law degree probably isn’t for you.
Similarly if you can’t cope well under pressure then medicine or journalism may not be your bag after all. If you get to this part of your personal statement and find yourself questioning why you even chose your course in the first place, it might be worthwhile to stop writing and go back to the drawing board.
But let’s assume you’ve got this far and are still enthusing about your chosen course; note down what aspects of your life including your studies, hobbies, work and leisure experiences are relevant to the course. For example, if you’re applying for Economics, mention the positives of taking Mathematics as an additional A level. Mention work experience that is relevant, such as shadowing an accountant, working in a corporate environment.
Similarly, producing a student newsletter is relevant to being a journalist, so extract which aspects of those experiences are directly relevant and explain them.
The important thing here is to really get a grasp on what’s impressive and relevant to your course, and then make sure you include it. Modesty will get you nowhere when writing a personal statement – sell yourself!
Extra Curricular Experience
In this section, you’ll have to draw in non-specific work experience and all other academic achievements such as DoE qualifications and instrument grades. It doesn’t matter how long ago or how briefly you worked or trained to get that skill, what’s important is how you bring it into the statement.
For example, if you didn’t complete the DofE award but you achieved parts of it, then mention it. There no need to lie, but don’t overlook the team-building skills of a weekend yomping the dales, or the commercial skills of working pricing goods and operating the tills in a charity shop.
Final Section – Conclusion
The last section is where you bring in other aspects of your personality to create a picture of a well-rounded, interesting person; (even if you’re rough round the edges and/or boring!).
Rack your brains and note down the times you were in the school play, or performed on stage, or played a sport for the year or the school. If your achievements transcend this, for example, you played hockey for the county, then best to upgrade that to paragraph three.
Make sure you give examples of hobbies that make you a more interesting person than the guy who plays on his PlayStation 3 all day, and then relate them back to your university aspirations. Playing football in a team develops team building, helping organise the social side of a sports club demonstrates organisational and social skills.
Finally, think the closing sentence is the second most important one to the opening sentence. Draw together the experiences, skills and knowledge you’ve presented with a concluding statement, such as “I’m a well rounded and motivated person, who will thrive in a university environment.”
Then check, check and re-check that what you say is relevant, well presented, grammatically correct and is delivered with passion and enthusiasm. Editing and re-editing is even more important than drafting those 2,000 characters in the first place.
As a parent we all want what’s best for our children regarding their health and, of course, education. We watch them develop as they transition through many significant changes on their journey: starting ‘big’ school, after the freedom of preschool play, finding their feet at secondary school and then, for many, the mix of nerves and excitement of heading off to university. Human Givens’ video addresses the 8 Myths of University.
This formative stage of life can bring some of the most significant and daunting changes a person will have to face as a young adult in education – and some people cope better than others.
There seems to be a greater prevalence of anxiety and mental health problems amongst university students – which is worrying as a parent.
So, what can we do to support our children through this critical time?
Thankfully, there are lots of ways we can help make this leap into university life smoother, less stressful and more rewarding for our children (and even ourselves!)
Let’s start with the 8 myths that trip university students up….
“How to support teenagers through the stress of starting university life” is presented by Gareth Hughes, a human givens psychotherapist working in the Counselling Service for the University of Derby – and what he has to say is a real eye-opener for parents and students alike!