intensive one year a levels fast track a level retake courses at rochester independent sixth form college

“This is just to say a very big ‘thank you’ to all of my son’s tutors at Rochester Independent for your superb guidance, expert management of the retake application for Law, unfailing kindness, patience and brilliant teaching. You taught him to think properly, to write clearly and fulfilled every promise you made to us. I wish you all continued success and many more students to benefit as he has done.” judith wickham


Obviously no one plans to need to retake A levels and missing offers and having to do so is disappointing. After this initial disappointment however students often report looking back on their A level retake year as a positive experience that properly prepares them for university.

top tutorial college in kentRochester Independent College has been offering successful A level resit courses since 1984 and is one of the UK’s most well known and highly regarded independent sixth form colleges. Rochester Independent College is fully accredited by the Independent Schools Council and inspected by the ISI.

resitting a levels at the best 6th form collegeric class of 2013 prove it is worth retaking your A levels 

One of this year’s students retaking A levels, when asked what they had benefited from the most at Rochester Independent College, said: “Great teachers that gave me the passion to enjoy my studies.” Another added: “Raising my confidence and ambition– my previous school told me I would never get into a Russell Group university.” Among the successful retakers are:

Angus Henderson from Edenbridge joined RIC from King’s Canterbury. After retaking he is now off to Exeter University to study Film. Oliver Goodwin from Cranbrook School took a one year A level course and has won a place to study Finance, Accounting and Economics at Nottingham. Joseph Molloy from Tonbridge who joined from Skinners’ School is off to Southampton to study Biomedical Sciences. Matthew Collinge who joined  from Crowborough and went to St Gregory’s Roman Catholic School is heading to Sussex for a Physics degree. Abigail Pile from Tonbridge Grammar is off to Durham to study Ancient History and Martha McGuinness from Sevenoaks who attended the same school leaves for Leeds and Maths and Management. Charlie Comet who joined RIC from Cranbrook School was one of the last January retake students and he won a place at Newcastle for Chemical Engineering. His classmate in the famous RIC maths shed Rory Mawdsley from The Judd School is off to study Civil and Structural Engineering at Leeds. Emily Mann who joined as a one term boarder from Middlesborough has a coveted Vet Science place at the RVC.

RIC, rather than just profiling a few high achieving students, publishes its university destinations list in full each year.

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Most successful RIC A level retake students have in recent years opted for the one year September-June retake programme as this has given the best chances of significant grade improvement, the opportunity to take fresh subjects alongside retaking and to prepare properly for university.

“I chose Rochester for A level retakes because I thought it was the nicest independent 6th form college, and it seemed very friendly. It had a boarding facility unlike others I looked at, which appealed to me. I wanted to go away because my friends had gone away to university – I would have had no life if I’d stayed at home. Going to Rochester gave me the chance to meet people retaking who were in the same boat as me.”
matthew sarstedt, a level retake student 2010, now at sheffield university studying dentistry


How to retake your A levels

RIC’s bespoke A level resit courses now run January- June or September-June depending on individual circumstances. Our teachers can offer retake courses for all examination boards and options. In 2015-16 it will be possible to study through the year part time, i.e combining retaking one or two subjects with paid work experience or internships or to combine a short intensive January-June resit with more traditional gap year adventures between September and January.

With AS and A level resit opportunities limited, smart revision tactics have never been more important.

a level retakes boarding collegeTom Teverson from Keston never thought he would end up studying English Literature at the University of Exeter. He first came to RIC to resit his AS levels and switch for year 13 with a view to applying for Medicine. While at the College though he caught the literary bug, scored 398/400 in his A level English, and left with A*A*A B at A level. He says, looking back at his successful revision strategy: “It’s really easy to procrastinate about what you need to do to prepare for exams. Much better to just get on with it! Revision is a slog. It’s about pushing yourself to work hard. Having structure and a schedule helps though.”

Tom continues: “I would get up at 7am and go for a run, then have a good breakfast and get started by 8.30 or 9 am. I’d work for a couple of hours then take a 15 minute break at 11 ish. I’d then work until lunch and take an hour off. In breaks it’s really important to get right away, detach yourself, go for a walk and not play games on the computer. I’m a bit of a snob about revision guides. Generally I didn’t find them of any use at all. RIC was brilliant for revision notes. The way we looked at texts in English was dynamic, we would sit around and discuss, it was much more interactive, just like the university seminars I attend now.”

A Level Retakes and Accelerated Courses at Rochester Independent College in Kent 

Watch the video below to learn about short A level retakes and one year A Level courses at Rochester Independent College

i need to retake my a levelsTom’s classmate Maneesh Dhillon, now studying at Medway School of Pharmacy originally came to RIC to retake his AS levels and restart year 12. He advises: “Start revising early, at least 3 months before your first exam.” Different techniques work for different students and new technology can support traditional graft.  Maneesh says: “I used some revision apps but found Evernote the most useful. This allowed me to store my notes remotely so I could access them via my phone at any time. For example if I was on the bus or waiting for friends I could do a quick session. It did mean that I had to type all my notes up but I was actively working on making them more concise.”

Like Tom, Maneesh advises careful planning and a disciplined approach to A level retakes. He remembers: “I started by making checklists of what I needed to cover then I arranged my notes in order, mapping them against the syllabuses.  This way I was able to check if there were any gaps and go through them with my teachers. Once I was organised I was ready to actually get started. I made schedules then just did what I had told myself to do.”

“Since starting at the College I have totally changed, it has been a complete reversal of character. I have grown up a lot. The personal coaching, small classes and being on first name terms puts everything on a more personal level. There is mutual respect between teachers and students – I really want to do well for both myself and my teachers. They tell me that there is nothing to stop me getting A grades – this kind of positive feedback helps me believe in both myself and my abilities.”
richard day, class of 2010, joined ric from simon langton school, canterbury


i want to resit my a levels at the top college in the uk why retake a levels at rochester independent sixth form college?

Small classes and the easy accessibility of staff ensure that students receive a great deal of individual help and  attention. Regular tests under examination conditions are designed to help those  who suffer from `examination nerves’ and prepare them for public examinations.

Established in 1984, Rochester Independent College has been at the forefront of  the development of independent sixth form tutorial colleges from their initial perception  as `crammers’ to today’s popular and highly successful alternative to the traditional school. Based in historic Rochester in Kent the College welcomes students each year from elsewhere in the county including Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Canterbury. Each year there are several students who come and board while retaking their A levels from London, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Hertfordshire and Berkshire as well as from further afield and overseas.

Click here to read student stories and testimonials from the A level retake archives and here for last year’s A level retake student success stories.

The College accepts day students of secondary school age and boarders from the age of 16. All have the opportunity to thrive  in an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to explore their subjects  rigorously, but often more freely than is possible within the confines of a  conventional school. This dynamic and innovative atmosphere is also one in which those resitting at A level or GCSE are able to find a new enthusiasm for their subjects. Our teachers can offer retake courses for most A level subjects, examination boards and options.

exceeding expectations and retaking a levels in kent as a day or boarding student

Resitting examinations can be a very positive experience (yes, really). It is a second chance at many things and  students consistently gain tremendously in confidence and maturity having made what is always a very difficult decision. The retake year is positively approached as a university preparation course rather than bleakly revisitting old material. At Rochester Independent College we are keen to ensure students leave us with the academic and organisational skills that will help them get the most from their university life.

The teachers at Rochester Independent College cannot do all  the hard work necessary for improved results, but they can provide a new and  stimulating environment in which students can build or regain lost confidence  and explore their subjects in a new and more adult manner, bringing their own ideas and experiences with them, not just passively regurgitating an old and tired syllabus.

resitting a levels collegeClass sizes are extremely small, usually numbering around 6  to 8 which means that every student has individual attention. Problems can be quickly diagnosed and tackled. Improvement is often rapid and grade improvements as large as 5 or 6 are by no means unheard of, however, improvements of two or three grades are more common.

For entry in 2014 it is clear that students who attain ABB in their subjects will be able to attain a first choice place as the government is removing the cap for students with these grades, allowing leading universities to expand and increase the number of well qualified students they recruit.

advice about retaking my a levels Fill in our online enquiry form to request a prospectus, arrange a call back to discuss AS or A level retakes or book a visit.

“Thank you so much for enabling Sam to get his 2As and a B for Manchester. We are really thrilled he has been able to fulfil his  potential in this way but know that it wouldn’t have happened without  the excellent quality of teaching, guidance and pastoral care that you provided.”
emma begg, parent of sam, class of 2010, joined ric from the judd school, tonbridge


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a level retakes at best independent sixth form college near london in kentmaximising potential with a level retakes at rochester independent 6th form college

Students join RIC to maximise grade potential in the academic A level subjects demanded by top universities.

Research demonstrates the competitive edge independent 6th forms can give. The Russell Group of leading universities report that private school students are three times more likely to gain straight As than those at state schools. While independent schools represent only 7-8% of the school population just under half of all science A grades are from them. The Sutton Trust found that private sector students are four times more likely to apply to a top university than those from further education colleges.

This year a new government league table ranks schools on the percentage of students with two As and a B in traditional academic A levels. 200 of the 298 entries in 2012 at RIC were in these ‘facilitating’ subjects identified by the Russell Group- Maths and Further Maths, English Literature, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History and Languages.

The Russell Group comments: “We welcome the publication of information that will help students make good choices about their place of study post-16. All too often students disadvantage themselves by choosing a combination of subjects at A level which will not equip them for their preferred university course.”

resitting a levels top university courses best schoolsRIC specialises in quality university application advice and a curriculum geared towards entry to elite institutions. Despite being non selective, the top 5 student destinations over the last 8 years are Leeds, Nottingham, Sussex, Cambridge and Imperial. Last year three students won places at one Cambridge College- Trinity.

retaking A levels, informed choices and the russell group 

All RIC retake students who applied to Russell Group universities received at least one, and in many cases up to five offers, from this group of the UK’s leading higher education institutions.

a levels retaketop college for intensive a levelsa level resitsWhat gives Rochester Independent College’s A level retake students the competitive edge when reapplying for university is that they often add new A level subjects completed as one year intensive courses alongside their A level resits to properly prepare them for their chosen course of study and demonstrate their academic potential to universities who may otherwise be sceptical if faced with a reapplication from a student who is only prepared to retake the odd module or two. Rochester Independent College offers a range of one year A level courses that can be successfully combined with A level resits.

While candidates who need to resit are often disqualified from medical school applications most other courses at most universities welcome those who retake and reapply. Students should always check with individual universities and departments that resitting, or taking a combination of intensive courses and resits is acceptable. Sheffield University’s advice is typical:

“Applicants who are re-sitting AS units or A2 exams and are, as a result, taking longer than two years to complete their qualifications, may be set a higher entry requirement than is standard. Alternatively, applicants applying for highly competitive courses may not be considered equally when compared with those who are not re-sitting. In all cases, we may ask for further information about the reasons for re-sitting to inform our overall review of the application. Each case is considered individually.” Lancaster says similarly: “Our admissions tutors will normally consider applicants who are re-taking A-levels however they may adjust the offer conditions to reflect the retaken examinations.” Edinburgh University likewise warns that the bar may be set higher for retake students: ” Students resitting or taking A Levels over more than one sitting may still be considered, but any offer made may be based on grades above those usually required.”

Some universities, or departments within universities have more strict criteria when it comes to offering places to retakers and it pays to do your homework before wasting a UCAS application. St Andrews for example says: “The University will normally consider only those results that have been achieved at the first sitting and in a single diet of examinations. Grades achieved across more than one diet, or through resits, will only be considered where there are extenuating circumstances.” The LSE candidly states: “We prefer students who have achieved high grades in their AS and A2 examinations at their first attempt” . Even within universities there can be variation in approach to retakers. Bristol’s Law department makes clear that: “The Law School does not accept resits of the entire A level or the final A level examination, unless there are exceptional circumstances” while the Zoology department says: “Candidates taking their A levels in more than one sitting may be at a disadvantage.”

What gives Rochester Independent College’s A level retake students the competitive edge when reapplying for university is that they often add new A level subjects completed as one year intensive courses alongside their A level resits to properly prepare them for their chosen course of study and demonstrate their academic potential to universities who may otherwise be sceptical if faced with a reapplication from a student who is only prepared to retake the odd module or two. Rochester Independent College offers a range of one year A level courses that can be successfully combined with A level resits.

resit a levels russell groupAngus Whitehorn from Wadhurst secured a place last year at his first choice Bristol University to study Drama after taking History of Art and Film Studies as one year A level courses alongside resitting English Literature and Theatre Studies.


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As many A level retake students at RIC opt to board there is still the opportunity to leave home at the same time as peers and live in a residential environment that is designed to be a stepping stone between school and university rather than a traditional boarding school. A 6th form boarding college is a real alternative to a central London tutorial college.

With the cost of weekly boarding in Rochester cheaper than being a day student at some London sixth form tutorial colleges for A level resit courses it’s not surprising that some opt to retake away from home and prepare for university.

a level retakes university offersRIC runs daily minibus services from Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Maidstone. A level retake students from different parts of London travel to RIC daily. The College is located directly opposite Rochester railway station, 25 minutes from Stratford, 40 from St Pancras or Victoria.

a level resits- combine part time retake courses with work experience at kent’s only specialist 6th form tutorial college

It is also possible for students to combine resitting A levels part time September-June with strengthening their work experience portfolios

ric a level retake students reflect on why it was worth resitting 

“I had got really fed up with my previous school and looked around for  a new place for my A levels.  Leaving school gave me a real feeling of freedom and with that has come the ability to achieve despite being dyslexic. I am hoping to build a future career in corporate branding. A spell of work experience in London clinched the idea of pursuing Graphics at Leeds. I would like to go to California to work. The small classes here and friendly atmosphere helped me settle in. I don’t think I’d have got this far without coming here.”


“Having spent rather more time on playing rugby than doing homework, I did  not do too well in my A levels last year – well, disastrously really! I knew I  was going to do badly, but it was still a shock to get the results. Having  thought about various options, I decided I did want to prove I could do better  and so decided to retake. It has been hard work, but taking Film Studies as well  gave a bit of contrast which helped – I had the chance to decide whether or not  I wanted to take an AS or just do it for interest.”


“I did not do well in my AS examinations at my previous school and I  would not have been able to carry on to A2 in the subjects I wanted to. Although I had always been in state schools for my education, I looked at going to an independent school for my last year. I knew I could do much better than I did at AS – I just didn’t do enough work. It has been much easier than I imagined to study at Rochester Independent College. I think the small classes are a big help and the fact you are allowed to develop at your own rate. I would still be failing had I not made the move and could never have got so far without the help I’ve received here.”


“It was a difficult decision to retake my A levels but now I know it was the best thing I could have done with my gap year. I have found all my teachers inspiring and enthusiastic and they have given me the confidence I needed to achieve my potential. I have the skills and confidence to go and do well at university.”


“I have taken a year course at Rochester retaking Maths A level and studying some additional A levels which I felt would improve my chances of getting into university. I didn’t get any interviews last year, but this year, not only have I been interviewed, I have actually been given an offer by the Royal Veterinary College in London even though I am retaking one subject – I can hardly believe it!”


“I suffered a compound fracture playing rugby and found  that I lost confidence in almost everything and lack of motivation followed. My family have given me this chance to make up lost ground and it’s working. You  are made to work here, much more so than at school and it brings results. I am now focused and self disciplined. I retook Geography after a term in January and  I am now finishing a year course in History, Sociology and Art. In October I  start a Business degree and then I am off to the States to make my fortune. I  can only speak highly of the staff here.”


“I didn’t apply to university last year as I was really unfocussed. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. Instead of a Gap Year, I retook my A levels this year and it has given me a breathing space, a time to think. This College really helps you to focus on your objectives and I am now looking forward to a really interesting career in nutritional dietetics – a subject becoming more important as health issues in preventative and recuperative medicine take on a more important role in the medical field.”


“The disappointment of not achieving to my full potential in my A levels forced me to reappraise my choices and has further stiffened my resolve to realise my ambition. Therefore, determined and focused, I enrolled at RochesterIndependentCollege to ensure that I achieve to my best ability. The college has provided me with purposeful belief in myself; the cultivating of independent learning aided with aquiring more in depth subject knowledge has allowed me to yet again thrive in an educational experience and hopefully this additional year will only go towards improving me individually and  providing an exceptional foundation for a career in veterinary medicine.”


“I want to be a physiotherapist and have my sights on, Liverpool FC as a future employer! I came to Rochester Independent College to improve grades and now have an offer for Physio at Keele University. The college students are very motivated, which means no one is allowed to shirk. My essay writing has greatly improved with the help of the History teacher who really worked with me one to one. In Biology I was given a test every week to get up to exam standard. The atmosphere is informal, so you absorb your subject and the relationship between the tutors and students is interactive.”


“Part-time work experience at a local Medway Hospital convinced me that I didn’t have any interest in office administration. I want to be a teacher. My first A-levels were not as good as I hoped; like many people, I had a mental block with exams and it was really upsetting, as my overall standard was high. My school teachers recommended Rochester Independent College as an excellent alternative to anything they could offer and I have never looked back. With constant mock exam practice I’ve achieved the confidence I needed in exams. A place at the Royal Holloway at Egham, part of the University of London is now waiting for me. Not only have I conquered my exam problem, but the time I spent here has let me see how all my friends have settled at their universities and it  made me positive about being a teacher. I’ve matured here.”

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