a level resits, retakes, sixth form and boarding video

watch the video below to learn about A level retakes and one year A Level courses at rochester independent college in kent

“Going to Rochester Independent College for A levels was like going to university before going to university.”
david thornthwaite, former ric student, warwick graduate and current ric english teacher


At Rochester Independent College we are conscious that for many students opting to not compromise in Clearing, retake A-levels, transfer schools for year 13 or restart year 12 is a tough decision. We have been helping students in these positions since 1984 and they always look back at their time at RIC as a positive experience and a good preparation for university.

In 2012 75 % of RIC’s A level retake students won places at Russell Group universities including UCL, KCL, Exeter, Bristol, Leeds, Durham, Sheffield and Newcastle for courses including Dentistry, Geography, English, Neuroscience, Biomedical Sciences, Accounting and Finance, Psychology and Economics.

The remaining 25% of A level resit students were placed at other good universities including Sussex, Oxford Brookes, Brighton, St George’s, University of London, UEA and the University of Kent at Canterbury for courses including Business Management, Radiography, Film Studies, Primary Education and Sports Science. RIC publishes its university destinations list in full each year.

For most courses apart from medicine, dentistry and vet science even the best universities welcome students who have opted to retake, often seeing it as a sign of determination.

The information below is taken from university websites in July 2013 but is not exhaustive and you should always check with admissions tutors directly for the most up to date information on their attitude to students retaking their A levels.


Exeter University say: “”The University does not discriminate against applicants who have re-taken part or all of a qualification and will treat an achieved or predicted qualification grade in the same way irrespective of whether or not re-takes are involved.” Imperial College, London say: “We recognise that applicants can occasionally have a one-off bad exam so will not automatically reject applications which show that some modules will be retaken provided all other aspects of the application are strong and, in  particular, when the grade is a near miss and only one or two modules are affected.”

Liverpool University’s Law School tell applicants: “Yes, you can apply for the LLB course if you are resitting, or if you have repeated a year in order to obtain the correct grades. The entry requirements for our Law programmes will still be the same for those resitting exams.” Other courses are more guarded, Law at Birmingham for example saying that “Re-sits are considered on a case by case basis” and Economics at Bristol warning: “While we do accept resit results, applicants who need to resit their exams to meet our offer conditions should think very carefully about applying to our programmes, which themselves offer very limited resit opportunities.”

Queen Mary’s Law department is typical advising retake students that they might face higher offers than first time applicants saying it: “prefers candidates to meet the entry requirements in one sitting. However, we do accept applications from re-sit students. These applications are looked at on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual candidate’s circumstances and re-sit applicants to whom we decide to make an offer may be asked to achieve higher grades than our standard tariff.” The Classics and Ancient History department at Durham while saying they will accept the results of A levels that are retakes emphasises the importance of putting together a very convincing and honest reapplication to university: “We are usually not told explicitly by UCAS when results are obtained via re-sits.  Doing this sometimes open up chronological gaps in your application that you may want to explain.”

RIC offers students resitting their A levels-

  • Exceptionally small, tutorial style classes (average size 8). There is no back of the class, everyone is engaged. Our tutors are lively, supportive and give freely of their time for individual support outside lessons.


  • A university style boarding experience. A stepping stone between sixth form and higher education for students looking to leave home at the same time as their friends go off off to university.



  • Flexible timetabling. There are no subject choice combinations at RIC and it is often possible to combine resitting A levels part time with paid work experience or internships. We encourage subject combinations that will be attractive to the better universities.


  • Regular testing. Young people are not born with the ability to study, pass exams, revise or to organise their time properly and at RIC we foster and teach these skills through guidance and practice rather than expecting them to evolve by magic. Exam technique, a skill sometimes neglected even in good schools, is given much emphasis.


  • Structured revision and study support. Students don’t have to struggle with hastily scribbled notes on some long forgotten classroom lecture. We do not send our students away on study leave and the tutors are on hand to guide and structure revision right the way up to the final papers.


  • Quality UCAS support. Personal Tutors and the College Principals work closely to ensure that students are properly supported and guided through the university application process. The College has a great deal of expertise in preparing students for Oxbridge applications as well as for medical school and other highly competitive courses such as Dentistry, Vet Science, English and Law.


Rochester Independent College is accredited by the ISC (Independent Schools Council) and a member of the ISA (Independent Schools Association).

good schools guide Rochester Independent College was awarded two Good Schools Guide A level Awards in 2011 for the best points score in English Literature for boys and girls of any independent school in the UK. The awards are given on the basis of combined results data, for the last three years, together with the subject’s popularity and the success achieved compared to other schools. In 2012 RIC’s Film Studies results won the awards, again for both boys and girls at an independent school.

Rochester Independent College was last inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in March 2012. Key findings were:

Quality of Teaching- Good

Quality of Boarding- Good

Personal Development of Students- Excellent

Quality of Curricular and Extra Curricular Provision- Good

Quality of Students’ Achievements and Learning- Good

Governance of the College- Sound

Arrangements for Welfare, Health and Safety- Sound

Quality of Leadership and Management- Good

“Rochester Independent College stands out as a notable ‘alternative’ exception for its informal ethos and relaxed learning environment, though rigorous teaching and a strong focus on preparation for assessment, recognised in a recent outstanding Ofsted report, suggest that it might be better characterised as akin to a successful Swedish Free School.”
adam smith institute report, 2011



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