GCSE results – what now?

My results are not as good as I'd hoped. What can I do?

Sixth forms, colleges and many employers will ask for certain GCSEs as a minimum requirement to study or work for them – with English and maths considered the most important.

It is possible to resit courses – and in some cases individual modules – at schools and colleges. Contact them to find out more.

Once you have your results, there are a number of options available to 16 year olds.

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Employers are increasingly looking for workers with qualifications beyond GCSEs – but that does not have to mean A-levels.

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So, what are my options?

Staying in full-time education.

A-levels: The traditional route through A-levels is still an obvious one for many – particularly those looking to go on to study at university.

When choosing subjects, ask yourself: What you are good at and what you enjoy? Most students perform better with a subject they like. Do you want to learn something new? And where do you want it to lead? For example, if you want to study medicine at university, you'll be expected to study certain subjects at A-level.

Vocational courses: Work-related courses, including the diploma for 14 to 19-year-olds, offer a chance to gain further qualifications that can lead into a specific job or industry. Diplomas cover areas from hair and beauty and travel and tourism to finance, retail business or engineering.

They can be studied at a sixth form or further education college and are designed to improve English, maths and ICT skills as well as arming you with practical knowledge.

For both A-level or vocational courses, you'll also need to decided where you want to study.

School sixth form: Staying on at your own school's sixth form or going to one at another school will give you more freedom than you will have had in year 11 while still offering a more school-like environment than a college.

Sixth form college: These tend to be larger and more informal than a school sixth form.

Further education college or specialist college: These can vary greatly in size and the courses they offer but will often require more independence when it comes to studying and will see you learning alongside a wider variety of people, including adults of all ages.

Other options.

Apprenticeships: Local and national government is increasingly investing in apprenticeship programmes to allow people to earn money while learning and gaining recognised qualifications. The National Apprenticeship Service (www.apprenticeships.org.uk) is responsible for apprenticeships in the UK. It has a vacancy search on the website.

Work: If you decide heading straight in to work is for you, try to find a job that offers training as well. A number of employers follow schemes that can lead to recognised national qualifications. For careers advice visit www.direct.gov.uk/nationalcareersservice

Gap Year: Gap years are not just for students putting off going to university. An increasing number of teenagers are deciding to take a year out before heading into further education or looking for full-time work. They can be used to get work experience, to travel, voluteer or to re-take some of your GCSEs that didn't go so well.


Although the EMA (education maintenance allowance) has now been abolished, there are still some options available for students who need funding to help them stay in education post-16.

The 16-19 bursary is available to students, including young people in care, care leavers, and young people receiving benefits in their own name, and is worth up to �1,200.

Students facing genuine financial difficulties may also be able to apply for a bursary directly from their school, college or training provider.

Speak to your school or college to find out how to apply.

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