A level Resits at RIC
A level results day, for most students, is an occasion to celebrate as academic promise is fulfilled and university entrance requirements met. However, for others this is not the case as grades are below expectations. For those students the question is whether to retake their exams to improve their degree and future career prospects. This is a very common reason why students look towards Rochester Independent College for help. We have over 30 years of successful experience in guiding students through the minefield that is retake options and we offer personal advice based on their own particular set of circumstances. In many ways we are in a fortunate position as those students looking to retake exams come to us with a clear direction in mind and it is our job to work out the best way to achieve these aims. For some students it may be best to retake a number of units to up their grades, whereas for others they may need to consider amending their study programme altogether – this depends on a number of factors such as preferred university course, A level unit grades already achieved etc. The advice given depends entirely on the individual set of circumstances faced by each student – at RIC we certainly do not have any set route to offer as such an approach would go against the student centred ethos of the College. For each student we work out a solution that best fits their needs.
Each prospective student that comes through our door will have a meeting with one of our senior team who work together closely and they will discuss your options with you. This team of tutors will want to see exam results slips to work out your UMS mark (we are more interested in your numerical score rather than your grade!) which will help to establish a retake programme. The one thing to remember is that retaking A-levels does not necessarily diminish your chances of attending a top university and, through the years, RIC has enabled retake students to actually improve their future academic prospects as students leave us to start degree programmes they initially thought beyond their reach before joining us.
Dr Todd Dedman, Head of Sixth Form, RIC
My PhD focused on youth subcultural groups affiliated to hip-hop and grime culture. It was a mixed methods research piece, largely centring on qualitative data collection from young people in the South East of England who saw themselves as either being actively engaged in these cultures and some who were avid consumers of cultural texts. I am currently turning the thesis into a book and hope to land a publication deal soon. A main aspect of my work, the development of the conceptual purist/peripheral model of subcultural engagement, was published in the Journal of Youth Studies in 2011. The most enjoyable aspect of the research was that I met a number of leading international hip-hop and UK grime artists (despite the fact that the interviews with them did not actually make it into the final thesis). I have spoken about my work at various sociological/cultural studies conferences including at Kingston (2009), Surrey (2010), Christ Church University (2011) and London Met (2012). My PhD has informed and developed my teaching in recent years in the areas of subculture in Sociology and audience identification and cultural competence in Media Studies. On receiving the news that I had become Dr Dedman I immediately asked for my own personal car parking space, I am still awaiting news on this.
A level Retakes: A Student Perspective
Underperforming in public exams is a painful experience. Disappointment in the faces of your parents, family and teachers, coupled with your own sense of regret (the ‘could haves’, ‘would haves’, ‘what ifs’ of revision and exam taking, time invested in your facebook newsfeed rather than your copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’) all contribute to a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach. It was hard for me. Harder still was accepting that these grades truly reflected my academic capabilities. As difficult as it was, I can truly say that, certainly for me and other students in a similar position, failing proved a blessing despite the initial feeling of “the end of my life”.
I was in a far stronger position to take my exams the second time around. I fully understood the gravity of the exams. These were the labels with which universities and society labelled us, and the fear that the grades of my first attempt were permanent, motivated me to perform to a level which did me justice at the second attempt. This degree of pressure was healthy enough as it provided the spark which was missing the first time around as I coasted aimlessly to my inexorable fate of bad grades. I wanted to succeed.
Retaking A2 provides you with valuable experience with the application process to universities. A degree of my initial failure can be attributed to the fact that I was not convinced as to what I wanted to study and where. This uncertainty was reflected in my work ethic as I did not commit myself to any subject or to any goal. So I missed my grades. During the retake year however, I was in a far stronger position to apply to university: I was familiar with the UCAS process and I had had enough time to commit to an academic pathway. The fact that my friends were enjoying their university life further fuelled my drive to achieve my grades.
Many people claim that universities do not give out offers to retake students. This fear-mongering should not be heeded. The new found focus delivered by the extra year in education is reflected in the personal statement and the reference by your teachers. For the majority of the other retake students I knew and myself, university offers were being given regardless of the fact we were retaking.
I can claim confidently that retaking your exams will produce a higher grade the second time around. The lingering scars of disappointment from last summer’s results day provide the motivation, the extra year of maturity provides the work ethic and the experience of the UCAS system ensures you have a goal to which you focus your studies. For many of my friends, going from very disappointing grades, they now see themselves at highly competitive universities studying well respected degrees. And you always have the confidence that if you underperform in your retake (maybe your sleep was interrupted by an earthquake in Folkestone measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, or you could not concentrate because your train driver was on ‘strike’ against the scarce 3G coverage between Ebbsfleet and Stratford) you get to keep your grade from the previous year.
Idris Kaplan, RIC Class of 2015
Idris received offers from UCL, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton but his first choice is Architectural Engineering at Bath