So You Didn’t get a “C” in English and Maths GCSE….


Exam results are out this week, and I’m hoping the 40 or so students I helped this year have achieved the grades they aimed for. I get a lot of calls from panicking parents and students who don’t know what to do when they fail their GCSE English and Maths exams.  It’s not the end of the world.  Here’s a guide to what you should do next if you get a “D” grade or below.

Most people think of a fail as NOT getting a grade “C” because this is the minimum grade expected of students if they want to go into further education.  In fact, getting that all important “C” in English and Maths is so important that universities can refuse to give you a place even if you’ve got A* s in all your other subjects.

So a lot of students have to re-take their GCSEs.  I have taught students taking their GCSE’s for the first time and those who are re-taking.  Students re-taking their exams face the following problems:

  • Students often have fewer lessons when retaking because they are at college and often have a busy timetable dedicating more time to the new subjects.

  • They are either over-confident and get complacent.  They think they will pass because they’ve done it all before. They have all their other subjects’ work to do as well and tend concentrate on those.

  • They can get too negative and start thinking that they will never pass.  Some get a mental block and continue to fail….

  • Students are very rusty – the last time they did maths or English was at least 3 months ago.

  • Students quite often GET THE SAME GRADE again!

To avoid all of the above, retake the exams as soon as possible and be prepared to do more work!

GCSE ENGLISH RE-SIT

If you do not achieve a “C” grade pass in English language, then you can re-sit the exam in January 2013.  The exam is on 10th January 2013.

As a general guideline, if you got a “D” overall then you can re-sit in January.  Anything lower than that means that you have to repeat the whole year and retake the exam in June next year.  You can re-submit your controlled assessments and speaking and listening assignments from year 11 if they are good.

If you want to re-sit in January then you’d better get your skates on!  I’ve calculated that there are only 18  teaching weeks left.  First you will have re-learn all of the course, then make sure that you know what you need to do to get a “C” grade and finally get in plenty of exam practice.  If you do mock tests and past papers, then these should be marked and graded so that you know where you are going wrong.  You can either mark them yourself or get them marked by a teacher.  If you are re-sitting in June next year then you have more time, but you also have more work to do.

GCSE MATHS RE-SIT

The GCSE Maths re-sits are in November.  There are 2 papers, paper 1 is on 6th November 2012, and paper 2 is on 8th November 2012.  The results will be published in January 2013. There are only 11 teaching weeks left, so don’t waste any time.

It is important that all the main exam topics are covered several times before the exam, but if you are short of time, then prioritise the topics you need to know to pass the exam.  A good way of doing this is by doing a mock test and looking at the results to see what you know and don’t know.  Then work on what you can’t do.

Don’t just revise ‘favourite’ topics – this won’t be enough, something must be changed this time around.

As with GCSE English, get in plenty of exam practice and get used to working under timed conditions.  Always mark the papers or get them marked and monitor how you are improving.

This article summarises how the government plans to help students who don’t get the grade.

I’ve found the OCR website very useful and it explains terminology like “UMS” and simply how to understand your statement of results.  Once you understand your results you can then see exactly how far you are from a grade C by looking at published grade boundaries.  An example is given here.

So for GCSE English (OCR), the grade boundaries are as follows:

Mark          Max mark          A*        A        B        C        D        E        F        G        U

UMS             300                  270     240    210    180    150     120     90      60      0

And for GCSE Maths (OCR)

Mark                              Max mark       A*      A      B       C       D     E      F       G     U

UMS (Foundation Tier)      400            n/a    n/a   n/a   240  200  160  120   80    0

UMS (Higher Tier)               400           360   320   280  240  200  160  n/a  n/a    0

Nobody wants to retake exams, but if you do find yourself in this situation, and it all becomes too much……we are only a phone call away.

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105 comments on “So You Didn’t get a “C” in English and Maths GCSE….

  1. Hi – I have a degree – but am looking to get into nursing school this year. My qualification are fine BUT no GCSE science or maths. I want to get in for March 2013 – is it possible to enter independently – if so, how?
    THANK YOU

    • I think you have to register with an examinations centre to resit your GCSE. Try local colleges and schools first and ask if you can sit as an independent candidate. As long as youget the results by next March, you should be fine. Maths re-sits are usually in November and application deadlines are about a month before, so do this now.

  2. Hi,
    I graduated last year with a Masters in International Law, I also got a 2:1 in Politics at undergraduate level but I have no A-Levels and I got a D at GCSE in English Language. I went to Uni at 22 as a mature student so there were no entry requirements but at the back of my mind I always have the worry that all my Uni qualifications are pretty much worthless when I say I don’t have a C at GCSE on application forms.
    Having been out of the system for so long, can I roll up and sit an exam and if so how? Do I just sit an exam or would I need to do coursework as well?
    Thanks in advance for any help!
    Chris

  3. Hello, I have a question and I need a little help what to do…

    Currently, I am studying BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma First Year:

    My GSCE results are 3 C’s, 1 B and D for English and Distinction* In BTEC Level 2 Diploma. I did re-take for English for a whole year and everything seemed to be fine, because teacher was showing me a very good grades form my work like C’s. Before the exam the teach showed me my grades such as:

    For speaking and listening: B, C, C
    Reading Literary Texts: C, C, D
    Imaginative Writing: I think it was E, but I am not sure.

    From this point teacher told me to try my best at final exam to get my C. I am very surprised… my grades are even lower than English teacher showed me!

    Speaking and Listening overall is E
    Reading literary texts overall is D
    Imaginative writing overall is F
    Information and Ideas, which I think it is an exam overall D.

    Overall I have 139/300 which is E grade…

    What should I do? I have older certificate where I have D grade can I use it for further re-takes or I am screwed? :( Can I contact them or etc?

    I’m planning to do Games Development next year, but I am not sure if I will get there, because of my English grade. Some teachers said as long as I have got 4 GCSE’s with C or above and Distinction in diploma they can take me. Is that true?

    I don’t feel so good about it as I hoped for C this time… If you can answer my questions I would be very happy and probably in better mood. Oh, I forgot to add I am not a British as I am a Polish.

    Thank you.

    • Hi, I think you will need to re-take your english GCSE, unless you do a foundation year at University in which case they may get you to do an english aptitude test instead. the best thing to do is to call the university admissions team and ask them what the options are. I’m assuming Games Development is a university course. If it’s not degree level, then you shouldn’t have a problem.

  4. if you get all C’s in your english language controlled assessment and you sit a english language exam higher tier exam can you get a B or an A.

  5. hello
    My teacher is marking my GCSE English language controlled assessment down. He is giving me lower marks than i thought, i am 100% confident that they are not the grade which i deserve. He also didn’t send it to the exam board. please help me what shall i do?????? another question: if you get C’s in all of your English language controlled assessment can you get A or B overall if you sat the higher paper???? please help me . i would be very thank full to you

    • I think that if you get a C in the controlled assessment, then to get a B you would need an A in the written paper. As for getting your teacher to re-think the grade, there’s nothing I can do. Your best bet is to get it re-marked if you don’t get the grade.

  6. Do you know any private tuition centers where i can get some help with my current GCSE English language ? Because i think i need some help wirh my gcse english .please include their phone number as well. thanks

  7. Help! So worried! I’m in year 11 and not too confident if I can get that C in English. I have to pick my A level options now and ALL of them requires a minimum grade C in English! In case I get a D or below, can I still do the A levels and do you re sit the English while your taking A levels in Sixth form?

      • Wow! Your’e from Luton. Thanks, I’m planning to apply for Luton Sixth Form, so they wouldn’t really really mind about the minimum grade C for doing the A levels like Physics, Maths etc,? Can I start doing the A levels while having below a grade C? Thanks again.

  8. I’ve got 178 for trusting my teacher I really don’t want to do my resist my teachers are saying get a b or an a but I’m more than happy to just get a c

  9. Hi, I am currently in sixth form and gained 8 GCSE’s but not including English
    I failed it the first time with a D and resat in November but still failed and got a D.Do you know of any universities which will allow me in if I get decent A level results. I am studying Food Technology, Applied Business, Applied ICT and Travel and Tourism.

  10. please answer me. if you havent pass the retake exam for english in January what would happen next would you get another chance? can you make to 6th form?

  11. hello, I am in year 11 at the moment at school and I’ve just taken my English language exam today (Thursday). I am quite anxious that I haven’t passed, as a result to skipping a 16 mark question and only briefly doing the last 24 mark question. Is there still an opportunity for me to still resit English language, if so when? (I have taken the exam 3 times all together, I think) :(
    also, do you know an estimate what the boundary for C in Higher paper might be?

    Thanks :)

  12. Hi.. I want To Resit My Maths GCSE as a private candidate with AQA Board and the schools want to know what maths exam paper I want to do… i have no idea?? im going to be applying for early years foundation degree?

      • i told them i wanted to do foundation AQA Maths Gcse Resit and they said something about a specification? They asked me to ring back after i know what specification i want?

  13. can you still do a-level maths, physics, chemistry and IT If you didn’t got a C in your English GCSE and you are retaking in sixthform? would they put me in lower a-level set or whats going to happen?

  14. Can you sit your English GCSE in two centers… i was just wondering if i can sit my english gcse with aqa in the school….. and english gcse with edexcel or any ther exam board privately … can we do that ? pls answer

  15. Are we allowed to resit our controlled assessment… We are with AQA…. if yes how many times are we allowed to sit one controlled assessment…

  16. I have got C’s in all of my GCSE English controlled assessment …. shall i do foundation or higher?…Is it easier to get OVERALL C in Higher or Foundation with all of the C’s in your Controlled Assessment???? please guide me ……. I wanna do higher put my teacher is forcing me to do foundation as he thinks it is better for me …. i am confuse?????

  17. Hi, im in year 11 and i am from Spain, y start year 11 this year, so i haven’t got any work of year 10. My subjects are English, Maths, Science, Spanish, RE, PE and Cizenship, Im in a 2nd set of English and is a little bit difficult for me. I have my report yesterday and i have a D in Maths and a D/E in English, is it bad?
    Also, next year i want to study Travel and Tourism and i need a C in English and Maths, isn’t it?
    What’s happen if i not get a C grade on maths and english?
    I hope you reply me.
    thanks.

  18. What is UMS ??? and how much UMS do you need to get , to get aleast a C overall? Can you pls roughly estimate(that how much UMS is needed to get aleast a C in english gcse) by looking a t previous marking scheme? Finally, Could you pls tell me that what do you mean by “degree course” in sixth form?

  19. I basically failed my exam on the 10th January 2013 because I got 48/80? My teacher said it was a high D but I think it’s a low one. She also said my exam grade hasn’t been allocated? I want to know exactly what was the pass mark for the 10th January exam 2013 and by the way my exam boards AQA. Please tell me, thank you.

  20. I would like to retake my maths. I got a D in my gcse and would like to get a C because I applied for university this September 2013. One of the universities got back to me and said I need a C . I hope you could get back to me ASAP . Thanks

  21. So even if u get a D at GCSE math and English u can still do your A levels that u picked such as history, as long as your retaking the gcse’s. Also if yes does that mean every college says yes?

    • I think that it depends on which A levels you are doing. For example some colleges require a C in Maths for Science A levels and others require a C in English for arts A levels like History, Sociology or RE. You need to find this out from the college.

  22. What about if u get a B grade in history gcse but get a D in Maths and English can u still do the A levels as long as u pass the retake?

  23. Pingback: Fast Track To Success – Kip McGrath Summer School 2013 | Kip McGrath Luton Tutor's Blog

  24. Hi, can you enter a sixth form that requires 6 A* – C’s with 5 A* – C’s as long as you’ve achieved well in the subjects you want to do for A-level? I’ve got a Distinction in music which is an A equivalent and carries two gcse’s as it’s a Btec and I think I’ll get a B in History, which I need to do it. If I only get 5, can I retake in November of this year or something like that (Possibly January) while doing A – levels? I was told retakes are now covered over 2 years as a full course resit instead of an Exam only and that worries me that I won’t be able to get in either because I got 5 good grades instead of 6 C’s or that I’ll have to do it all over again through 2 years? I wan’t to resit English Lit if I’ve failed and only got 5, but would I be able to resit that after being accepted into A-levels with 5 so I could get 6? Sorry if I’m being a bit confusing here.

  25. HI Kip,

    Thank-you for all the great information above. I live in Luton and need to re do my maths GCSE Id also like to do business studies and maybe another GCSE also, do you know of any places in or around Luton who offer such opportunities to 18 years olds.

    I look forward to hearing back from you.

    • If you are 18 then I would recommend applying to take the exams as an external candidate. This means that the college provide a place for you to do the exam but not to teach the course. I would try any of the local colleges in Luton and in nearby towns like St Albans and Bedford. Good luck. I can help you pass your maths GCSE, and if you got a D grade, then try to sit the exam in November.

  26. I am 1 mark away from my C in English and this is very annoying.
    Shall I retake this, and when can I

    I also need to retake my science, I am still 16, where and when can I retake this please?
    Can I retake science anywhere this year?

  27. I wanted to do level 3 Health and Social Care BTEC but I got a d in English and that to in my first year of college.the college which I used to go did not offer me the course which I wanted to do and said that I have to level 1 maths as I got an f but that was in secondary school. In college I did maths in level 1 and passed it. Will I still be able to do my english in my old college.

  28. Hi my son had D on english gcse twice , his college didnt do re exam can he do retake again . And if he find a school to do re exam in november can he do it and retake in same time to make sure to get his grade for uni next year

  29. Hello,I just got myO-levels exams but I got all e’s.I wanted to learn foundation in science,but I don’t know what the college wil say.Is foundation studies fine if I don’t want to re sit for my exams know?please help.

  30. i have just sat my Maths exams in year 10, i revised all my subject thoroughly at home and at school, i was getting b’s and c’s in my course work but i have received a f, but someone who has not even took the test has received an e, what?!

  31. Hi I would like to re sit my english and maths in luton where could I resit and would I be able to I got a E in english and F in maths I really would like to re sit as I am doing accounting in collge

  32. Hi I got 174 ums in gcse English (June 2013) can I only re-do the speaking and listening. As I got 33 marks in speaking and listening and I need 5 more marks to get 180 ums which is a grade C I guess. I’m looking forward to your reply. Thanks

  33. I have just left school this year and got a D in english and an E in maths. I am looking to retake my exams but dont know how, what is the right path to go down.

  34. i passed my english language in yr 10(not mock exam) but i failed in yr 11. so i just want to ask if the english language that i passed in yr 10 counts or do i have to re-take it .

  35. Hello, I am currently in my second year of BTEC level 3 extended diploma in business, I am expecting to achieve a D*D*D*. I have passed by gcse english but not my maths but I am confident that I will pass this year. The problem is that I have only got a C in English Language and currently a D in maths and a Distinction in my level 2 BTEC in Business and I.T.
    Most universities as for 5 GCSEs, is this essential or will I be accepted with my GCSEs in english and maths along with my BTECs?

  36. I got a C in my English Language and I am in year 11. I need a B to do most the courses that I wish to do for A-levels, can I privately retake?

  37. hi, i got D in my English and the course i want to do in college should be level 3, would this cause a problem, even if i get c in maths,R.E,English lit,science and 8 distinction in health and social care. people are confusing me by saying i cant do level 3, i will have to retake health and social level 2 in college again while doing my English language exam.

  38. Hi, my name us Claudine Burke

    The reason I have contacted you is because I am applying for my citizen ship in the Uk and was told if I haven’t got at least a grade C in English, I will have to sit the life in the uk test. However I have a grad D in English and is more confident in just retaking my GCSE English. But I will need my results fast. By the end of April or start of May.

    Am I able to do that with you. If
    not can you tell me where I can please.

    • Hi Claudine,

      Unfortunately it is too late now to apply to sit the exam this year. You need to find an examination centre nearest to you, apply as an external candidate and sit the exam as soon as you can. We are not an examination centre.

  39. Hi, I got a C in one controlled assessment and a B in another. For the exams, I got a C as well. Overall I also got a C, I was wandering is it possible to get an A or B by re-sitting the exam? And does the exam weigh the same amount in the resit as when I first took it. However, I do the AQA exam board. I know a C is a pass, but I’m worried universities may not think it is good enough.
    Also, do universities take into account your GCSE grade or focus on your A Level results? I am currently in year 11, about to resit the exam but unsure whether I would actually benefit from it.
    Thankyou

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