School pupils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their GCSE exam results on Thursday 25 August, after an anxious wait over the summer holidays. Although many will receive the grades they hoped for, others will not – but there are options for everyone.

Ask for a remark

If you have narrowly missed out on a grade, or if you feel your grade does not reflect your ability or work, your school can arrange for your exam to be remarked. You will have to pay a fee for this, which will only be reimbursed if your grade does change.

Speak to the college or sixth form

Although most colleges or sixth forms require certain grades to confirm a place, it may be possible to speak to them and see if they can make an exception if you do not reach the grade boundaries.

Some sixth forms and colleges also have a grade boundary for particular subjects so always check with the criteria that you are expected to meet. It might be possible for the institution to find you on a place on a different course or subject, or you can look for a course at another college or sixth form.

Resit your exams

You can retake an exam in maths or English language in November, but you cannot resit other subjects until next June.

Other qualifications

BTECs – which stands for the Business and Technology Education Council – are vocational qualifications that combine practical learning with subject and theory content. There are over 2,000 BTEC qualifications across 16 sectors. City & Guilds also offers vocational qualifications in a variety of fields and careers.


Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study, in which you will work alongside experienced staff, gain job-specific skills, earn a wage, get holiday pay and study towards a related qualification – usually for one day a week. Apprenticeships take one to four years to complete and you can apply for one while you are still at school.

You can find the right apprenticeship here.


A traineeship is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last up to six months and you can apply if you are eligible to work in England, unemployed, have little or no work experience and are aged between 16 and 24 . Although you will not be paid, you may be given expenses for food and travel, as well as a work experience placement and, if needed, help with maths and English.

For more advice on exam results, you can contact the National Careers Service or the UCAS helpline.