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Advice on retaking GCSE or A-Levels

28 Sep 2016

As we are almost one month into the new school year, Allan Cairns, the Director of Studies at Ealing Independent College (EIC) shares his advice on key things to consider for those still debating whether to retake subjects and those who have just embarked on an intensive retakes year. 

To retake or not to retake…that is the question

The decision regarding which university to go to, and indeed which course to take, is a hugely important one which should not be taken lightly. I am sure that almost all students who made UCAS applications last year had a goal in mind in terms of their destination after their Sixth Form studies. It's very important that those goals are not abandoned because grades were missed. Settling for a university or a course which was not 'first choice' can have a detrimental effect on a student's enjoyment of their time in Further Education, something which will last for the next three years, and comes with considerable cost implications. It is undoubtedly a big decision to delay going to university in order to resit some, or indeed all units of courses which were studied last year, but it shows a great deal of resilience, and a desire not to settle for second best, which universities would be very accepting of. One should also consider that taking a year before university to remedy grades will improve one's readiness for further study. Fundamentally, it is the quality of degree, and where that degree came from which employers put greater weight in than making amends for any mistakes made in Year 13.

Who will help me get to where I need to go

Choosing a place to retake subjects can be a daunting task and students and their parents need to ensure that the College will help them make the necessary grade improvements through a strong parent-student-teacher partnership. Here at EIC we specialise in improving grades, and we are proud to have a very impressive track record in doing so. Individually tailored courses, small classes and a high level of access to teachers are areas which are consistently praised by our student body. It is expected that students, with hard work and dedication to their studies, can achieve a two grade rise in their retaken subjects as standard, and it has not been uncommon for students to make three or even four grade improvements after coming to EIC to benefit from our approach to teaching and learning.

A positive learning environment is key

Our aspirations for the year are always to get the very best out of students, through rigorous assessment, close monitoring and building a strong working relationship with all students. We understand that not every student is capable of A* grades, but our ethos is that students who come to the College will be better placed to fulfil their potential in the focused and positive learning environment we have created.

Don’t forget to learn beyond the classroom

It is important to make clear that a year taken before university to ensure that you make the right next steps should not just be about studying. It is important to keep a balance between working in and out of the classroom, along with learning new skills, making new friends and trying new activities. At EIC, the extra-curricular programme offers a variety of opportunities which enhances study. Whether it be in sport, societies which prepare students for biomedical or engineering degrees, amateur dramatics or debating, we ensure that students find sources of inspiration.

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