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Archive for August, 2010

GCSE results

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

The long wait is over, and GCSE results  (and iGCSE results) are nearly out – but what should you do if GCSE grades aren’t as good as you’d hoped? Here are some tips…

Don’t panic!
Slightly disappointing results at GCSE aren’t the end of the world, especially if they are in subjects other than English, Maths or in the subjects not being taken to A Level. However, not doing as well as expected can be demoralising (especially if friends got straight A* grades!) and can be an indicator of an underlying problem that might cause greater difficulties at A Level.

As such, disappointments at GCSE and poor grades can be good indicators of problems that need fixing in the long term. Dropping a couple of grades in a subject that isn’t going to be continued at A Level is probably nothing much to worry about – unless that subject happens to be English or Maths.

Take action on Maths and English
The most immediate problems to face are if GCSE results in Maths or English (not English Literature) are poor. Colleges and Universities usually require at least ‘C’ in both subjects at GCSE for admission. Likewise, most employers want to see at least two Cs for anything except manual work. In practice, as a result of the grade inflation of the past few years, the cut off ‘respectable’ grade is a B – if a grade B  at GCSE in one of these subjects was narrowly missed you might seriously consider an appeal or a resit.

If either Maths or English have been ‘failed’ (strictly speaking, even an E or F is a ‘pass’ at GCSE, though nobody pretends that a grade below C is worth much, especially in English) they should be resat. School (and/or new sixth form college) will advise on this.

Check A Level eligibility
Dropping GCSE grades can have an effect on the subjects that can be taken to A Level (see here for tips on which A levels to choose). Many state schools and FE colleges ask for at least a C grade at GCSE in a particular subject before acceptance on to the A Level course (often higher for more traditional A Levels such as Maths and English). Grammar and independent schools will often require at least an A grade at GCSE before acceptance on to courses. However, it varies dramatically by school and by year.

If the grade has fallen below the notional standard for a particular subject but you/your child still wants to take it at A Level, the whole thing will have to be discussed with the relevant subject teachers. This might be easier if staying in the same school, as there will be existing relationships in place with staff who will know your personality and capabilities well – on the other hand, that could also work against you!

One way or another, an unexpected dip at GCSE indicates that not all is as it should be, and going into A Level you/your child could benefit from extra help. It could be that subject understanding wasn’t as it should be – or that the required effort and level of revision wasn’t put in but at 121 Home Tutors we have tutors that are used to working with A level students and with students who haven’t performed as well as they might – get in touch with us today (email or call 01625 531 360) for a no-obligation chat about how we can help with studies if you live in the Manchester, Stockport, Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Cheshire and surrounding areas.

*** Exam Results Helpline – 0808 100 8000 ***

Disappointing A level results at AS?

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

In our earlier post we took a quick look at the best course of action to take if your A level results and A2 grades weren’t as expected.

But what about if you’re in the same situation a year earlier – you’ve just completed Year 12 and your AS results are not as expected or not quite as good as you’d like? Of course, your situation isn’t quite as critical as those not getting the A2 grades needed, because you don’t have to deal with the potential upheaval of a missed University place. Also, if you’ve only underperformed in an AS that you’re not planning to take through to A2 (and which, therefore, won’t be the basis of a university application) you don’t have too much to worry about.

However, you could still have some problems that you need to deal with, especially if you’re planning to go to university.

First, a generally poor performance at AS level can be a sign that you’ve picked courses that don’t really suit you. If you think that’s the case, you could be better off in the long run starting again with new AS level courses in different subjects. Your school or college will be able to offer advice on this: it’ll take another year, but you’ll be a more mature and experienced student and should stand a greater chance of success.

If you decide to go forward with the grades you’ve got, you won’t be able to retake any of the modules you’ve messed up until after you’ve put in your UCAS application. Universities vary in how much notice they take of AS level results – many admissions tutors are aware that students often go through a process of rapid intellectual and emotional maturity during Year 13, and are inclined to give more weight to predicted grades than to AS results.

All the same, a set of disappointing results can cause application problems. They can also knock your confidence and the confidence that your teachers have in you – which could be a problem when it comes to securing good predicted grades.

So what’s the best course of action to take?

  • If possible, talk to your teachers about how and where things went wrong. They may recommend trying the appeals process. At any rate, it’s important to show them that you recognise you have underperformed and you want to take action to improve.
  • When the new term starts, really make sure you hit the ground running. As well as lots of work, you’re going to be thinking about university applications. Your school or college will give you advice on how to present yourself in the best light on your application – and it’s all the more important that you listen carefully and give the application process your best shot if you’re going into it with lower AS grades than you’d wish.
  • With disappointing AS level grades, a good UCAS Personal Statement could be more important than ever. Remember that if you get stuck writing your Statement, 121 Home Tutors can help.

If you’d like to talk  about A level results, AS results and AS grades try the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000. Alternatively, if you think you might need a little extra help with your AS or A2 level studies in general, 121 Home Tutors has a wide selection of tutors experienced in coaching A Level students at both AS and A2. So if you live in the Manchester, Stockport, Macclesfield, Wilmslow & Cheshire areas then  get in touch with us today for a no obligation chat about how our tutors can help boost your A Level chances!

A-level results day – what if you don’t get the grades?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

A Level results are out, and all over the country students will be celebrating – or in a state of high anxiety. If you’ve missed out on the A2 grades you needed to get into your first choice of university you could be facing problems, as this is set to be one of the most competitive years for clearing ever.

If you’ve just finished Y12 and your AS grades were a bit ropey, you’re not under quite the same pressure as those who have been unlucky at A2 – but you still potentially have issues to deal with because you’ll be going into the university application process without the best possible grades.

But never fear – there are things you can do to rescue what might look like a dire situation! In this post we’re going to look at the most pressing problem of all – underperformance at A2. In a special post on Thursday, we’ll offer some advice for AS students.

A- level (A2) grades not as hoped
A level results are due out. If you’ve missed your A level grades for your first choice university, it can seem like the end of the world. Rather than mope around, here’s the course of action you need to take:

  1. Don’t panic! You’ve nothing to lose from being level-headed, and potentially lots to gain.
  2. Your first port of call should be a relevant person school or college – probably your Head of Sixth Form or your personal tutor. You’ll be on their priority list, and this is where relationships are going to matter: good schools and colleges will fight tooth and nail to secure places for ‘good citizens’ who are known to be friendly, committed and talented, but who have missed out by just a few marks. You’ll still get help if you’ve been a slacker or a source of trouble, but your school will find it harder to unreservedly recommend you to sceptical admissions tutors.
  3. So, even if you’ve missed your A level grades, there’s a chance that you – with the assistance of your school or college – will be able to talk your way on to your chosen course. This is much harder than it used to be, but it does still happen.
  4. If you miss both your first choice and your insurance offer, and still really want to go to university then you need to enter the university clearing system. Again, your school or college will advise you here – or there’s a useful article in The Guardian. Many students get good places through university clearing, and end up in universities that they love. But think carefully: are you so desperate to get a university place that you’re happy to head off without even visiting in advance or researching how useful the course is? Studying for a degree can be an expensive business and did you know there are other options available? Check out our post on options available to A level students – gap years, going abroad to university, doing a part-time degree or even not going to university!
  5. Think seriously about retaking and going for entry next year. You can have another go in January at the modules you messed up, and hopefully the shock of failure this time will have focussed your mind! If you only missed your grades by a few marks you could also consider going through the appeals process. If you decide to retake, you’ll have to go through UCAS again, but it should at least be a bit more familiar this time.

If you do go down the resit route, it’s a good idea to spend some time reflecting on why you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped. Did you work hard enough, spending a decent amount of time preparing for each important topic within each subject? Was there a particular skill or area of knowledge where you really fell short?

You might feel that it’s time to seriously consider getting some extra help. If you would like to talk to someone try the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000. Also, 121 Home Tutors has a team of first class A level tutors and AS and A2 tutors and can offer help in any major subject if you live in Manchester, Stockport or Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Cheshire areas. Contact us today (by email or call 01625 531 360) for a no-obligation discussion!