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What Should Pupils Do If They Fail Their GCSEs?

What should pupils do if they fail their GCSE's? Image shows hands making a square around the words exam results

With exam results rapidly approaching, the next week is sure to be a stressful time for pupils who have recently taken their GCSEs. However, failing an exam is not the end of the world. There are many options available to students if they don’t obtain their desired marks.

Talk to the school

The first step should be talking to the school to assess if the failed GCSE will have an impact on future plans. Teachers will be able to offer advice on what steps the student should take next to allow them to work towards what they want to achieve.


If a pupil has narrowly missed out on a grade or believes that the mark received doesn’t reflect their academic ability, appealing against the result is an option. This can be done through the school, which again makes it important for pupils to discuss any unexpected results with their teachers.


There is also the option of resitting failed exams. Resits for the new GCSE subjects English Language, English Literature and maths will take place in November while resits for all other subjects will occur in June. If the failed subject isn’t necessary for the upcoming term, A-Levels can be completed in the meantime.

Retaking the full year is also an option, and, unless applying for extremely competitive subjects such as law or medicine, most Universities will still happily consider pupils who have done so.

Try another college

Entry requirements for sixth forms and colleges can vary, so pupils who don’t achieve the desired grades for one Further Education establishment may well meet the criteria for another one.


Many apprenticeships give pupils the chance to work towards qualifications while earning money and undertaking practical training. Which? have a brilliant guide discussing different types of apprenticeships and how to apply for them.

For pupils who fail an exam it can feel like the end of the world. However this is just not the case and many students who have failed their GCSEs have gone on to be extremely successful.

What advice do you have for pupils who fail their exams?

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