Should DD retake A Levels to hopefully go up a grade to an A?

(57 Posts)
HoofWankingSpangleCunt Thu 16-Aug-18 15:46:59

Hi all,
Apologies if this is the eleventy billionth thread on here Today, I did have a look and couldn't find anything quite right.

The situation is this..

DD got A in Biology and 2 Bs in English Lit and History. The Bs were a surprise as do all of the course she had been getting A* s and As. She also got an A* on her English coursework.
She also did an EPQ which earned her an A*.
Unfortunately her results were not high enough to get her into her Firm and Insurance choices (Oxford and UCL respectively) and she is now in Clearing . She has had lots of offers including ones from Manchester and Lancaster.

Obviously DD is heartbroken that she didn't get the As and now wants to retake. The Modern History tutor at the Oxford college has been in touch with DD and in one of his emails he suggested ( without pressuring her) that she retook History and Eng Lit and that his college would be sympathetic to her 're applying for Sept 2019.
The problems are manifold.... firstly finance. We would have to find the finance to do the two a level courses and have discovered that online learning would be our only options realistically. However we have been quoted a grand just for the sitting of the exams next year, on top of the actual course fees. I'm on an extremely limited income (Pip And ESA) and now Dd is 18 the child related benefits will cease at the end of the month.
Then of course there is the possibility that after doing all that her grade may not improve.
She us extremely diligent and self motivated. Not working hard enough has not been an issue which makes this all the more galling.
She feels that her current grades won't be enough to get her into the law firms/ conversion courses.
There is also the factor of the 'What ifs" DD has a tendency to overthink and I can see that she won't be able to accept this for some time.
She is going into school tomorrow to ask for access to her marked papers as I believe they are available online through the Edexcel portal. There is no guarantee that her school will be able to do this tomorrow and she needs to have her decision made by Monday. She needs to see where she went wrong in order to calculate if it's worth retaking.

I think her results are bloody awesome considering the crappiness of her school ( a whole other tbread) and I wish she could feel as proud of herself as I feel of her but i can see how upset she is and understand why.
I'm sorry for the essay, didn't want to drip feed but DD could really do with some objective advice to help her make the decision.
Take a year out and retake and hope to go up a grade or suck it up and go to a less prestigious uni and accept that it is what it is ?
Any replies gratefully received ( from me and a miserable DD)
Thank you!

Sorry for ťypos btw

OP’s posts: |
HoofWankingSpangleCunt Thu 16-Aug-18 15:50:55

I can't believe I missed out the part where I should have said that DD feels that she should get As and the fact she didn't is the motivating factor in her wanting to resit. She feels that for all the work she put in she can do better than Bs if that makes sense.

OP’s posts: |
catlady34 Thu 16-Aug-18 15:54:25

Could she arrange a meeting with the Oxford tutor who contacted her, take a few pieces of work which show her true potential and just explain that resitting is not financially viable? He would be able to offer her a place if he wants, there is a lot of leeway in these things and he clearly considers her capable to have sent that email.

reallyanotherone Thu 16-Aug-18 15:56:18

Can’t she stay on at sixth form an extra year and retake? That was fairly common in my day, as was doing gcse retakes and then a levels. You used to get 3 years at 6th form with no course fees etc.

Child benefit, if she is still at 6th form, continues until 19. Which if she has a sept birthday isn’t much use, august you’ll have another year.

But honestly both manchester, and especially Lancaster, are excellent Uni’s. I know Lancaster is a bit of a wild card as it’s not popular due to the middle of nowhere thing, but it is very highly regarded academically.

Plus, although a’level grades really seem to matter now, when she graduates it will be her degree results. No one looks at gcse/alevel grades. I got spectacularly bad results, and haven’t ever put my grades on a CV, just degree class.

If she has an offer for a course she wants, i’d go for it, rather than faff resitting.

SuperPug Thu 16-Aug-18 15:57:15

The email from the tutor sounds very favourable.
I also took a year out. Worked in a supermarket and that gave me the money.
I'm sorry to hear about the school. Is there any way she can be registered with them to retake the exams? I am not sure if this is at all relevant but I'm aware that The Sutton Trust and Prince's Trust Teaching Institute fund various things to do with teaching and learning. I may be wrong but they could put you on the right path with funding.

raisinsraisins Thu 16-Aug-18 15:57:43

If she is just re-taking 2 A Levels then she can maybe get a part time job at the same time and earn money to cover the costs?

eatyourveg Thu 16-Aug-18 15:58:59

You can stay in FE until 19 and still get child benefit. You just have to let them know. Not sure if an online course would count though. Have you checked the local colleges? If she likes the look of one of the clearing courses I would be minded to go with that one. Oxbridge or even UCL isn't everything.


SuperPug Thu 16-Aug-18 16:00:27

With a B already I would think that she wouldn't need a huge amount of extra teaching as well.
Catlady's suggestion sounds good especially as Oxford are working on outreach.
If the school is quite low in the league tables, this is also in your favour if she managed to get those grades in that situation.

NotAllIndividuals Thu 16-Aug-18 16:02:03

I don't know much about resitting exams but I've been a hiring manager and I think it might be worth considering what she wants to do after university and how much that will be influenced by the institution. You might be surprised at how many employers couldn't give a fig where people studied. I know that's a big ask at 18 but it could save some heart ache. Some professions would really benefit from an Oxbridge degree but many many many would not so long as she did well at a well rated uni for her subject. There's always going to be a sense of what if, so whichever way she decides she needs to be happy with the choice.

HoofWankingSpangleCunt Thu 16-Aug-18 16:12:21

Thank you all.
catlady Yes, the tutor did seem very keen on DD but he said that the rules had changed and students have to get a A in their chosen degree subject.
Reallyanother she's a summer baby so we would absolutely get child benefit if she was at 6th form. The issue is that we don't really have much faith in the school. There is a new History teacher who began after May half term to replace the history teacher (who was also Head of 6th form) it was him who told the class that they weren't writing essays properly. Apparently they had not been taught that. They just seemed to watch dvds on the Vietnam war etc. I don't know if that is even an option from the school's point of view either, the school will become an Academy in September. And courses are changing.
superpug she would absolutely have to get a job but would that be realistic alongside studying for 2 A Levels in one year? Good points about the Sutton Trust etc, they may help with some of the costs perhaps
I just hate seeing her crying over these bloody marks. It's difficult to see how she could get an A in het history coursework yet only score less than 50% on some of the exams. She knew her stuff back to front and in fact it was the Biology she thought she'd messed up.
She just doesn't know what to do. I'm suggesting chocolate cake, watch some Asian Provocateur and a good sleep and see what tomorrow brings. She's inconsolable. sad

OP’s posts: |
peodar Thu 16-Aug-18 16:29:37

How do you know she got an A on her coursework? If her teachers told her at school it may have been moderated down, especially given the change in teaching staff. Do you have a breakdown of performance on each component to see if remarks are worth perusing?

HoofWankingSpangleCunt Thu 16-Aug-18 16:41:40

raisins that would be doable if the syllabus was the same for each course. To do two new a levels from scratch in only one year and earn money from a part time job seems a big ask..
eatyourveg I agree Oxford and UCL aren't the be all and end all. It's not so much that she only wants those unis. It's more the fact that she was selected under the Widening Participation scheme onto summer schools for each of the above unis and managed to pass the History Aptitude test, examples of work assessment and the interviews for Oxford. She worked SO hard and evidently they thought she was capable. That's the nub of it really. Everyone thought she was capable of getting the As so the Bs are bitter pills to swallow. There aren't any local colleges really. The only FE college is miles and miles away and the other schools are part of a consortium and doung different syllabi to the ones she's been doung. She won't be able to just do Year 13 again.
She is really adamant that she doesn't want to go back to her "current' school. There is a high turnover of staff and she's felt let down. Financially however, if the school agreed, repeating yr13 there seems like the most sensible option.

OP’s posts: |
HoofWankingSpangleCunt Thu 16-Aug-18 16:50:50

superpug her offer from Oxford was contextual as her school is very low down in rankings and she comes from a family with no working adults. I'm no longer able to work and her father and stepfather have both died. So her achievements are even more remarkable in the face of that. She thinks she has done so badly (her words)
notall I agree with you but DD is sure her Bs will count unfavourable against her. It's good that she can read your opinion though.
peodar I have seen the breakdown. Not the ums one but the marks for coursework and each exam. After submission she was actually marked down from 39 to 36 out of 40 for her history coursework. So i have seen it for myself.

Thank you to all of you for taking the time to reply. It means a lot. smile

OP’s posts: |
HoofWankingSpangleCunt Thu 16-Aug-18 16:53:13

Oh superpug I meant to say would it be realistic to study for two NEW A Levels and work part time, all in the space of 9 months? Sorry.

OP’s posts: |
MrsRubyMonday Thu 16-Aug-18 17:00:45

I would recommend leaving any further thought for tonight at least. A friend didn't get the grades she needed for uni, was devastated, didn't want to resit at all, everything was pointless. It was mostly the shock of not getting her expected grades. But with some time to calm down from the upset and reconsider she decided to resit, got onto the course she wanted and now says it was the best thing to happen to her.

To be honest, if she would be happy going to one of her clearing places, I would do that. If she finds later that her a levels are holding her back she can resit as an adult learner, once she's finished uni and has a job and can fund it. But I think it's unlikely they will at that stage, a good degree counts for a lot more and her results are good, just not what she expected.

I hope she finds a solution she is happy with.

PotteringAlong Thu 16-Aug-18 17:03:28

The thing is, what will she do next time something isn’t perfect? What if she cannot stop her whole life next time and redo it? I think the important learning curve here isn’t the grades she got, it’s what she does with the hand she had got. I would be looking at clearing and getting onto a really good course and seeing this as an onward and upward kind of thing.

MummaGiles Thu 16-Aug-18 17:12:15

Just picking up on her plans to eventually do a law conversion. She will DEFINITELY get onto a conversion course with those grades and she will DEFINITELY not be discounted by good law firms for training contracts because of those grades (she will of course also need to show commerciality, commitment, etc, but they won’t be a bar to her entering the profession). I work at a major commercial firm (top 15) and I know the quality of the trainees that come through our doors.

lenalove Thu 16-Aug-18 17:25:28

I would take the offer from Manchester. Anyone I know who went there had a great time, and it really is a highly respected university.

senua Thu 16-Aug-18 18:00:48

Can I throw in my usual word of caution: 'History' is a wide subject and means different things to different people. Make sure that she reads prospectuses thoroughly so she knows that the History on offer from Manc, Lanc etc is the sort of History she wants.

senua Thu 16-Aug-18 18:09:11

I know someone who applied to Oxford but didn't get in (clever, but a bit of a quiet mouse). Went to Manchester, got a First and then went to Oxford for her MA.

FrederickCreeding Thu 16-Aug-18 18:15:19

I saw the title and thought that usually it's not worth retaking A Levels just for the sake of a grade. But in your dd's case it would make a huge difference if it means she gets her Oxford place. I'd say it's worth retaking. She can work part time and earn some money which will help set her up for Uni, and with only 2 subjects -which she already knows pretty well - she can do lots of wider reading and hopefully improve. Even if school isn't great, at least it means she gets some teaching and the exam entries free. She can just turn up to lessons but do extra work on her own. I'm sure she'll find lots of extra resources online she can use.

And definitely get a remark. The new exams are still in a bit of a state of flux, it's new to all the examiners too, so you never know, her grade could go up.

DontTryJustBe Thu 16-Aug-18 18:16:14

Hiya... Wobdering is a teacher's perspective might be helpful here.... l assume you went into her school to collect her grades with her today? Did you see her teachers? Were they at all surprised by her exam performance? If she had been steadily achieving As throughout the course - in exam practice more so than coursework as the skills and context are very different - then the school may well be happy to pay for her paper/s to be remarked. If not, you can - yes the cost might be difficult to cover initially but it will be far less than her retaking the courses. Would Oxford take her with an A in the subject she wants to study with an A and a B in the others? If so that seems by far the most sensible way forward to me.

There is of course the chance that her grade may be moved down BUT the school will share the grade boundaries for each paper with you so you can all see exactly where she sits within that and make an informed decision from there. Costa for remarks vary across Exam boards but you may only need to pay for one paper to be remarked if she is on the border between grades.

I hope this hasn't already been discussed! I could only see fleeting reference to remarking when l read the thread but l was being asked a million questions at the time.

It can be so debilitating being a perfectionist sometimes and she may well simply not be able to see just how well she has done right now because it didn't meet her expectations but this may well change over time with your love and support, especially if she looks up where her results sit within her own school!

Best wishes.

thejeangenie36 Thu 16-Aug-18 18:17:32

I would pause for now and consider the decision in a day or so. I'm a historian and Manchester is highly regarded - there's some very good people working there. Lancaster also has a good rep for teaching quality. The question really is whether a retake is worth pausing life for one year for. I would say not when comparing either of the above to UCL, and I guess it just depends how badly your DD wants the Oxford experience.

BlessYourCottonSocks Thu 16-Aug-18 18:19:41

How close to an A grade was she in History? (I'm a Head of History).

Is it worth a re-mark? School should tell her her marks in each Unit that she took - if she is a few marks off then it is worth a re-mark. If she is quite a few off then she's probably done the best she can.

PattiStanger Thu 16-Aug-18 18:27:21

If the results are so out of line with all expectations I'd say go down the remark route asap.

Mistakes can be made, I know there's a cost but if you can find the money I'd say do that

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in