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.

you didn't get a Grade

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!


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.


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.

My blog article on understanding your examination results slip will help you to work out how close you were to a C grade.

Nobody wants to retake exams, but if you do find yourself in this situation,  let us help you pass.   Book a free assessment and we will show you the way.

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

      • I’m from Egypt and took had my english and math exams in arabic. I want to know if there is some where can examine my english level before I decide to study english for a whole year ?? any idea ? thanks

      • i passed my English exam but i failed the course work so would i be able to retake my GCSE English course work whilst doing A levels i got a D overall with 166UMS

      • hi i am amanullah and i want to pass my gcse maths cause last year i fail maths i had an F grade in my GCSE maths so i am so confused where can i pass my maths subject at grade c. i am studying now at college doing functional maths but i don’t want to study functional maths i want to do gcse maths.

        your sincerely

  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?

    • 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!

    • You should challenge the artificial criteria that grade C is required. You could argue that getting grade C or above all those years ago does nothing to reflect CURRENT skills and knowledge. It’s possible to have achieved good GCSE grades but forget everything or most of what you’ve learnt. Similarly, you could argue that not getting grade C or above all those years ago does nothing to reflect CURRENT skills and knowledge. This is how I have argued with those narrow-minded employers/recruiters who blindly adhere to an entry criteria. They have never been able to provide objective rebuttals to me.

    • You should challenge the artificial criteria that grade C is required. You could argue that getting grade C or above all those years ago does nothing to reflect CURRENT skills and knowledge. It’s possible to have achieved good GCSE grades but forget everything or most of what you’ve learnt. Similarly, you could argue that not getting grade C or above all those years ago does nothing to reflect CURRENT skills and knowledge. This is how I have argued with those narrow-minded employers/recruiters who blindly adhere to an entry criteria. They have never been able to provide objective rebuttals to me..

  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.

  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?

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  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. My daughter is 16 in 2013 she got her exam results in English language she got d grade her school said she could do some coursework as she was only 6 points off gainingher c grade in English when.will.we find out if she gained her c grade as teacher said this year u can do coursework then no you have to sit the exam in June you can do coursework back to you have to sit the exam i have’t phoned the school yet who should I her old English teacher or her new English teacher daughter has started new coursework she.only needed 6 more poiits and she worked hard as she always does. yours sincerely Julie

  39. name is jade , i am currently studying business at city of glasgow college , i have a conditional offer for a course i would love to do and have been wanting to do for a long time but the problem is that i need atleast leave 5 numeracy .

    I was lead to believe that passing my current couse would automaticly give me that but i was told today by a my course leader that is not the case .

    Is there anything i can do to achieve this by august ? I have seen some online courses but they are to expensive and sadly i cant afford them at the moment .

    Is it possible for me to resit my maths papper , or is there a place that i can study and hopefully resit or take an assesment so i can achieve my goal.

    i just dont know where to start with my problem and i do not know what options are out there for me , if any .

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. I am in year 11 and have applied for sixth form in my high school and have given me an acceptance, providing I get my GCSE passes. I was wandering if universities still take you in if you have a C in English, but passes in A-Levels. As i thought you only needed a C in English to get to A-Levels, but now confused whether universities will take me in with the grade.

  43. Hi,
    I’m 18 years old and I’m looking to retake maths and English gcse I was supose to be going university this September, but I haven’t achieved my gcse grades.
    After I finished Highschool I went to college and studied btec business level 3 and I finish this June.. I was wondering Wether it would be possible for me to retake the exam papers on June?
    Many thanks.

  44. Hi, I’m 16 years old and about to finish my GCSEs. I am concerned as I have applied to study Law, Biology, Politics, and Applied business, but having just sat my English exam, I am not sure whether I’ll get my ‘C’, especially given that the exam boards toughened the grade boundaries last year for English, resulting in many failing who would have otlherwised pass if they sat a year earlier.

    Would I still be able to study these subjects if I didn’t get a ‘c’?
    If not, what would I do in replacment?
    Would I re-sit in November?

    Thank You.

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  48. My stepdaughter has taken and today got A level results in Psychology, Sociology and History all grade C, however over the last two years she has resat and failed several times to raise her Maths GCSE from the original Grade D, if next week she has failed it again, does this mean her A levels don’t caount as it was a requirement to resit the Maths to do her A levels?

  49. A friend at college has told her that if she fails to get the C next week, then this weeks A level results will not be awarded as she didn’t get the req entry quals for the A level course and it wouldn’t be fair to those that did,is this true?

  50. My son got his GCSE grades today, on the paperwork it had a grade for English Literature but not for English language , he said a while before he actually left school that he had take a re sit of that exam and that he got a C, so why is it not on the paperwork we got today ? Your help would be grateful as he got a D in eng lit and he’s worried he will have to re sit at college. Thanks

  51. So i didi fairly bad in my gcse’s and Im wanting to go into a couse what you needs D’s in. Whilst Re-sitting my English and Maths. But I got 3 E’s 1 G and 1-F but got a pass in Sport and I.T would that be enough anyway? Also In geography individual I got a f in unit 1 and a e in unit 2 but a D in unit 3. Same with english i got a C in a sub unit could i still qualify for a course what takes 2 D’s? – Thats confusing i know.

  52. Hi i got a c in english and a D in maths, if i retake maths, with i be able to study health and social care in year12 along with retaking maths?

  53. Hi basically I received A-Level Media results which was a C and did two BTECS ICT and Business studies level 3 and got distinctions and I also did my retakes for maths and English GCSE and got a C for English and got a D for maths, I have got into uni on a degree course and wanted to ask where I could do maths GCSE retake while studying at uni?

  54. I am resiting my maths this week but I am wondering because I am resiting my exam will this lower my chances of getting into university?

  55. I got a D in English & Maths at school and now I am in college. I have to retake my exams in May/June. What happens if i fail again? I am 17 and turn 18 on the 16th of September, will I have to do all of it again?

  56. Hi, I’m looking for information on where my son can take a resit in foundation maths. I’v been in touch with his school who said they werent too sure but maybe Pearson Edexcel would be the way. Any information would help. Thanks

  57. i am currently sitting on a B in my ICT, i know this may not have anything to do with English language or math, but i was just needing some advice… If i do bad in thw written section ff the exam will that mean i have no chance of getting a C or where will i be in the grades?? need some help asap! Thank you.

  58. My son has received in his mock exams in year 10 C in all subject except D in Spinach. He is doing foundation which I am not happy about it. In year 11 next year any chance to see possible if getting A as he would like to study Engineering.

  59. I’m getting increasingly worried for my son. He is 17 and currently in his final year at college.
    At secondary school he only achieved a D in his GCSE English.
    He achieved a B in Math and C’s in all other subjects. It is beginning to feel like a very scary stumbling block.
    He re-sat his English at school and he received a D again. He has been having an hour of English at college and it again at the end of his first year only to achieve a D again.
    Hi college Tutor told us this week he feels he would do very well in furthering his college subject at University , he strongly advises he apply. My boy is desperate to continue at University its just this darn English!
    He is currently compiling his personal statement due in during December and is about to apply to UCAS.
    My boy has had a difficult year over this as he feels he will never achieve a C and that his dreams will mount to nothing.
    He can re-sit in March from what I’m told, but that’s his last chance.
    Its so much pressure on youngsters he lost a good friend this year possibly to pressure from taking A levels. So worrying!

  60. Hi! I am an international student- I would like to know how many times can one resit a single IGCSE subject and A levels.
    I have been looking all over the web but I couldn’t get any relevant information regarding resit. I would be very grateful if you could kindly reply to my query.
    Thank you.

  61. Hi, i got a D in gcse english and i would like to retake it in november.Is it possible to retake a higher tier rather than foundation??

  62. If I didn’t pass English literature do I to re-take this? As everywhere says you need a C in English, but I did then seperate.

  63. It’s August 2016 an I did my English exam in June 2016.
    I got 179 marks which is a grade D, which means I’m one mark away from a grade C, and passing my English exam. It’s really annoying.

    But my college are going to resubmit my exam to get remarked to see if I can get that one mark. How likely is this? I’m really nervous an have everything crossed for myself to hope I get this one mark. 😦

    Just wanted to know like what happens, he’s sending it off today so when will I hear back or anything?

    Please give me some hope I can get this 1 mark.

  64. I did retake almost 4 years for both maths and English and I still haven’t passed and am 19 year now. Am currently studying health and social care and science level 3 and I wanted to go to university next year hopefully do you think I will get a place without my maths and English gcse?

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