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Our complete guide to re-taking your GCSEs

posted by Rosie on Monday, 7 December 2020

Okay, so you didn’t get the results you were planning for the first-time round. Even though this can be devastating, it’s more common than you’d think; in 2019, more than a third of students failed to pass their maths and English GCSEs. Educational experts believe that these students, called the ‘forgotten third’, have been badly let down by the traditional examination system. And it’s no wonder; standard classroom education provides no room for flexibility, or different learning styles.

At Oxbridge, we realise that no two students are the same. Some require intensive support, whereas some are independent learners. What’s so liberating about our ultra-personalised distance learning model is that you have the freedom to set the pace. If you’re thinking of re-taking your GCSEs at home through us, you’ll have unlimited access to a highly qualified personal tutor, enjoy engaging and varied course materials, and you’ll be able to work to your own schedule.

Why should I re-take my GCSEs?

For most people, GCSEs are the first formal record of their abilities in core subjects. They demonstrate a certain level of competence, and tell employers, colleges, and universities that you have important literacy and numeracy skills. If you’d like to move on to A-levels afterwards, most institutions will ask that you have a minimum of five GCSEs at grades 4-9 (C-A), which normally needs to include maths and English. Most vocational courses will have similar requirements. For instance, if you’d like to train as a teaching assistant, the very minimum you’ll need is GCSEs in maths and English at grades 4-9. Although GCSEs are an important marker of your academic ability, they also demonstrate to employers that you have the drive and determination to study hard and pass an exam, which are admirable qualities. So, if you failed your GCSEs the first time round, or you just didn’t do as well as you’d expected, there’s every reason you should consider re-taking your exams. You might be asking yourself: do employers really care what grade I get at GCSE? The short answer is yes. In fact, lots of employers use these grades as a way to shortlist candidates. However, the core subjects are definitely most important, so you might just decide to re-take GCSE maths or science, for instance.

How do I re-take my GCSEs with Oxbridge?

Here’s how it works. Because we’re a distance learning college, you can sign up to study with us at any time. Regular school terms begin in September, but with us, you can enrol at any time of year to re-take your GCSEs from home. All of our courses are available through our online learning portal, MyOxbridge.

GCSE biology course on MyOxbridgeGCSE biology

You’ll be given a login, and for every GCSE subject you enrol on, you’ll be assigned a personal tutor. Our platform is incredibly user-friendly, and because we know that everyone learns differently, we use a range of materials within our modules, like quizzes, videos, and even podcasts! When you study GCSEs with us, you won’t be ‘taught’ the subject as you would be in a classroom. Instead, be given all the learning materials you need, which you can access 24/7 on desktop, mobile, or tablet. And our course material is also different to that which you’d find in schools – it’s written specially for us (whilst adhering to national curriculum guidelines) and it’s brought to life by the most talented course designers in the industry. All our GCSEs are structured in easily digestible units with a short assignment at the end of each to test your understanding. This allows your tutor to give you detailed feedback which will improve your understanding of the subject, and improve your mark in your next assignment. And when it comes to taking your exams, we make the process as painless as possible. We have access to a country-wide network of guaranteed exam centres, meaning that you’ll be certain of a place when the time comes.

How long will it take me to pass?

Technically, our GCSE students have two full years to complete their course, starting from the day they enrol. But, because this is flexible distance learning, you’ll have the opportunity to take and pass your exams sooner if you’d wish. Therefore, if you’re prepared to study hard, you can enrol now and sit the summer 2022 exams, which would mean completing in eighteen months. We call this ‘fast-tracking’, and we empower our most capable students to be ready for it. What we care most about is ensuring that each student is confident and well-prepared before taking their exams, and our tutors monitor this by giving learners past-papers and detailed feedback on assignments.

Let’s say you’re studying one GCSE which will take you around 120 hours, and you also work a part-time job for 20 hours per week. Provided you have no other commitments and you dedicate yourself to your assignments, there’s no reason you couldn’t finish a GCSE in a year and a half. But, let’s say you choose three GCSEs; because there’s quite a lot of work involved, and you’ll want to be sure you give 100% of your effort to get the best results, you’ll most likely need the allocated two years. However, because we know that sometimes life doesn’t go to plan, we allow all our students the option of taking a six-month study break, without having to pay an extra penny. If you find yourself needing to take advantage of this, afterwards, you can simply pick up where you left off when the six months is over. In short, with our ultra-personalised distance learning experience, you call the shots.

Oxbridge GCSE English
GCSE English

Where do I sit my exams and is there a cost?

You’ll need to book your exams around six months in advance. You can either use one of our partner exam centres, at which you’ll be guaranteed a place, or you can find your own exam centre and book as a private candidate. Naturally, there are fees for each exam, which cover the cost of the venue, invigilators, exam papers, and assessors. The exact cost will vary depending on which centre you choose and which exams you’re taking, but fees range from between £120-£150 per exam, which is the standard cost levied by all examination centres.

What kind of tutor support will I receive?

When you enrol on a GCSE course with us, you can be assured that your tutor is an expert in their subject, and that they have a wealth of teaching experience. Although we do all we can to make our subject material as accessible as possible, there’s sure to be times when you don’t understand something, or you just need a little clarification. Our tutors are incredibly responsive and will do whatever they can to clarify things for you. And whatever your preferred communication method, your tutor will work with you. Maybe you’d like to work through some tasks with your tutor as they guide you over the phone, or maybe you’d prefer to only communicate over email. They’ll be led by you.

Which awarding body will issue my certificate?

AQA logo

All of our regular GCSEs are issued by either Edexcel or AQA. They’re identical to the GCSEs you’d complete in school, and you’ll gain exactly the same qualification. However, some of our subjects, such as English Language, are IGCSEs. IGCSEs are simply a slightly different format of qualification which are less constrained by national curriculum requirements, and normally require less coursework. They’re also internationally recognised, which is especially useful for students who live or plan to live outside of the UK. IGCSEs are considered just as valid as regular GCSEs by employers and universities, and are awarded by Cambridge Assessment International Education.

How does Oxbridge’s ‘exam pass guarantee’ work?

97% of our students pass their exams first time, and one third achieve a top grade. With these results, as long as you put the work in, you can feel pretty confident. However, if you do end up failing, we’ll give you continued access to MyOxbridge and your tutor for no additional cost until you pass.


Until the end of January, when you enrol on two GCSEs with us, we’ll fund 50% of your course fees towards a third. You’ll find more information about our wide range of GCSE and A-level courses here, or you can give our dedicated team a call on 0121 630 3000.