Education & Family

Q&A: What if I haven't got good GCSE grades?

sad girl with mother
Image caption Results day can be difficult for all the family

As hundreds of thousands of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland get their GCSE results, many will be celebrating getting a crop of good grades.

But others will be disappointed, having not got the grades they were hoping for.

The BBC News website looks at some of the options for those who face disappointment.

What should I do on GCSE results day?

You may get your results by text, email or in the post, but it's still a good idea to go to your school or college on results day. By doing this, you can get help and advice from your teachers.

What should I do if I don't have the grades I need to do A-levels or vocational courses?

First, don't panic. If you don't get the grades requested by the sixth form or college of your choice, approach them and see if they are prepared to be flexible. It's possible they will still give you a place or they might be prepared to take you on for different courses. Alternatively, approach other schools or colleges - you might find they will accept you.

What about retakes?

You could resit some of your exams if you have not made the grade. GCSE maths, English and English language resits are available in November.

If you are resitting several subjects or you need to improve your results significantly, you will have to wait until next June. Whether you will be able to start A-level or other courses of study before you have done your resits will depend on your results and what you want to do. Colleges and sixth forms will be able to advise you.

Can I challenge my results?

If you feel strongly that your grades are wrong and do not reflect your ability, you can ask for a re-mark of your papers. Requests for re-marking can only be done through your school or college. Make sure someone there is dealing with the matter. There is a fee for this service, which is reimbursed only if there is a grade change. The Joint Council for Qualifications has guidelines on the Post-results service available to schools.

Could I study for other qualifications other than A-levels?

You could decide not to go down the route of A-levels and university - academic-based qualifications are not the only way to success. Vocational qualifications include BTecs and City and Guilds, which are work-related qualifications in a range of subjects such as information technology, construction, beauty therapy and tourism.

What about an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships combine work for an employer and a programme of learning that will lead to qualifications. They are available at level 2 or level 3. You get paid a minimum wage of £2.50 per hour, though the average wage is £170 a week. More information is available from the National Apprenticeship Service.

Could I do something else altogether?

You could go straight into paid work, take a year out, volunteer or work for a while. It is possible to return to education - either full-time or part-time - later in life. Talk to careers advisers, teachers and your family and think carefully about what you are doing and why, and what future options it will create or rule out.

Where can I go for more advice?

You can call the national Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000 or to an adviser from the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900

The government website Gov.UK might also help you make decisions.