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.