Thousands of students across the UK will find out their GCSE results today with decisions to be made on what to do next.

Whether you are physically going into school or college this morning or if you are logging on remotely to get your GCSE results, the feelings of anxiety and anticipation are likely the same.

The academic year has again been unique for students of all ages across the UK. Blended learning is increasingly becoming the norm and in January of this year, students preparing to sit their GCSE’s were told that they were being cancelled in light of the pandemic.

Instead, this year’s grades have been provided by educators based on formative assessment grades and evidence that students have achieved the necessary grades given.

Rahim Hirji, UK country manager at leading online learning platform and app, Quizlet, has offered advice to students who may not have achieved the grades they wanted this GCSE results day.

For students receiving their GCSE results today, here are the things you may need to know if you did not do as well as you had hoped.

Talk to your college or sixth form

If this year has taught us anything it is patience and understanding. Speaking to your chosen college or sixth form should be your first port of call if you have missed out on the necessary grades by just a few marks.

By speaking with them directly they will consider extenuating circumstances, such as health concerns or issues, i.e. Covid-19 and lost learning, as well as being able to advise you on your next steps. In some instances, they may be able to guide you to an alternative subject or course that is more fitting to your grades and your goals.

Find the cause

To quote a cliche, some of the most successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople in the world do not have any qualifications. However, it is important to think about the reasons behind why you may not have done as well as you had hoped.

Before assessing the alternative options that are available to you, take this opportunity to learn from your mistakes, so that moving forward you can recognise the pattern in your behaviour. Whether it is a vocational course or higher education you are moving on to, you will, at some point in your life, be required to plan and organise your time accordingly, take on responsibilities and accept new tasks, and so, taking this on and knowing what is required of you to develop these skills will be essential in your future success.


While there has been a lot of talk about teacher bias and the teacher assessment grading system, desk work is not for everyone. You do have the option to take the actual exams if you feel you would do better. Exams will be offered to students in the autumn series or the summer of 2022. If you are studying an Edexcel IGCSE, for example, you may also have the chance to sit exams in November or January, depending on the subject you are studying.

While your Teacher Assessed Grade will be your final grade for the summer 2021 session, taking the GCSE exam in the summer session will give you the option to work towards a higher grade, therefore enabling you to download all the digital tools recommended by teachers, such as Quizlet and its free GCSE Resources covering all exam boards, ClassDoJo, and Microsoft tools, meaning you can walk into that exam knowing that you have done all that you can to absolutely smash it!

It is important to note that while you are of course aiming to pass if you do not do as well in the actual exams, only the higher grades given (either from your Teacher Assessed Grade or from the exam papers) will be considered when re-applying to college or sixth form.

Again, if you do find yourself in this situation, speak with your chosen college or sixth form as they may still permit you to attend while working towards your exams.


While this year is a little more complicated, as many students will not have actually sat their GCSE exams, you can still enrol to resit the classes. For classes like English and Maths, it is essential that you receive a grade pass 4 or higher to attend higher education courses. If you do enrol to resit, you may be permitted to attend college or sixth form while studying to resit your GCSE’s to meet the necessary grades.

Depending on the subject and your situation, you might be able to resit your exams after the beginning of the academic year or in the summer of 2022. There are also other options available to part-time students, such as a functional skills qualification instead of the GCSE, or if you are going on to an apprenticeship, studying Maths and English will be a part of your programme.


While many of your friends may have a clear idea of what they are doing, the college they are going to or the job they want, remember that you can change your mind. Do not feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing or telling you. Sometimes having a unique moment to consider and reassess what you actually want can be a blessing.

Many schools will have career advice services that can discuss with you your options, but you should also try to speak with parents, guardians, and your wider family circle about how they accessed their career paths. While the thought of resitting may be a little daunting, if you have a certain career in mind, do some research into other ways to access that role. Now, more than ever, alternatives are being offered to students, such as apprenticeships, professional courses (which often have no entry requirements), access courses, entry-level roles, work experience, and volunteering, all of which can offer you invaluable knowledge of the role, a foothold into that future career and can even land you a paid job at the end.

Remember, there is no 'right' way to start your career and many people find their passion whilst doing something else or by taking a more unconventional route. If you are a little disappointed with your results, know this: the education journey is increasingly becoming life-long and a small blip early in your career does not have to define your career trajectory.

With the way that the world is evolving, you will constantly be learning, so what is important now is to make some clear decisions to support your personal growth in the long term.