Hire a tutor
A Guide to Retaking A-Levels

A Guide to Retaking A-Levels

10 min Read|April 15 2024
|Written by:

Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa


Retaking A-levels is a common path for students who want to improve their grades and increase their chances of getting into their preferred university. It is a great opportunity for students to focus on their studies and develop their understanding of the subjects they are passionate about. Retaking A-levels requires a high level of dedication and hard work, as well as a clear plan of action. In this guide, we will cover all the essential information you need to know about retaking A-levels, including how many times you can retake them, the costs involved, and whether it's worth it. We will also provide tips and strategies for success, along with answers to some common questions about the retake process.

How many times can you retake A-levels?

In the UK, you are allowed to retake A-level exams as many times as you want. However, there are some limitations on the number of times a student can retake a particular subject. Most A-level subjects have an upper limit of four attempts, but some subjects like mathematics and English have no restrictions. According to data from Ofqual, around 29% of A-level entries in 2019 were from students who were resitting one or more exams. This highlights that retaking A-level exams is a common practice in the UK.

It is important to note that there are some consequences to retaking A-levels multiple times. Firstly, it can be expensive, the cost can quickly add up for students who are retaking multiple exams. Additionally, retaking exams can have a negative impact on a student's confidence and mental health. Retaking exams can cause anxiety and stress for students, and can lead to feelings of disappointment and self-doubt.

However, despite these potential downsides, retaking A-level exams can be a viable option for students who want to improve their grades and increase their chances of getting into a top university. It is important for students to carefully consider their options and weigh up the costs and benefits before deciding whether or not to retake their exams.

Discover more insights on revision websites here.

Can you retake A-Levels at any age?

It's not just school students who take A-Levels. Many people who wish to change their careers or progress academically later in life choose to take A-Level exams. Fortunately, there is no age limit for taking A-Levels, which means anyone can take them regardless of age. It's essential to remember that A-Level courses require a lot of hard work and dedication, which can be challenging if you're working full-time, and if you’ve chosen hard A-levels. However, it's not impossible, and many people manage to pass their exams through part-time study or evening classes.

For mature students, it's also worth noting that there are several bursaries and scholarships available, which can help with the cost of studying. The National Extension College (NEC) offers flexible distance learning A-Level courses for students who can't attend traditional classroom sessions. These courses are perfect for mature students who have work or other commitments and can be studied in your own time. It's worth doing research to find the best option for you, as there are many A-Level courses available from different providers.

What is the cost of retaking A-levels?

Retaking A-levels can be an expensive process, and it is essential to consider the costs before making a decision. The fees for retaking A-levels vary depending on the exam board and the number of exams you are retaking. In 2021, the average cost for retaking an A-level was around £120. This cost can add up quickly, especially if you plan to retake several exams. In terms of fees, resitting A-Levels as a private candidate can be costly. It is crucial to check with the exam board about their fees before registering for any resit exams.

Furthermore, private candidates, who are not enrolled in a school or college, may need to pay additional fees for exam centre services, such as arranging for an invigilator or sending exam papers securely. These costs can add up to a significant amount, and it is essential to factor them in when considering retaking A-levels.

It is worth noting that some charities and organisations offer financial assistance to students who need help paying for exam fees. The Access to Education fund by The Student Room is one such organisation that provides financial support to disadvantaged students who need help paying for their exam fees. It is always worth researching such organisations to see if they can help support you.

Is it worth retaking A-Levels?

Many students who have not achieved their desired grades in A-levels might consider retaking them. However, this decision can be costly and time-consuming. Therefore, it is important to consider whether it is worth retaking A-levels or not. The success rate for A-level retakes is around 50%, which means that only a minority of students achieve higher grades in their resits. This can be due to various reasons such as lack of motivation or inadequate preparation. However, for those who do achieve higher grades, retaking A-levels can significantly increase their chances of gaining admission to their desired universities or courses. Some universities even encourage students to retake their A-levels, and in certain cases, offer lower grade requirements for resit candidates. Therefore, it is crucial for students to weigh the costs and benefits before making a decision on whether to retake A-levels or not.

A-level grade distributions in England

A-Level grade distributions in England

Factors to consider before retaking A-levels:

For many students, the decision to retake A-levels can be a difficult one. One of the biggest concerns is whether it's worth it or not. The answer depends on a variety of factors, such as the reasons for retaking, the student's goals and ambitions, and their willingness to put in the necessary work to improve their grades.

Retaking A-levels can also significantly increase a student's chances of getting into their desired university or course. Expert Oxbridge tutors indicate that many top universities in the UK, such as Oxford and Cambridge, are highly selective and require top grades. In some cases, retaking A-levels can make the difference between being accepted or rejected. However, it's important to note that some universities may view retakes negatively, so it's best to check with the university directly before making a decision.

Overall, the decision to retake A-levels ultimately depends on the individual student's goals and motivations. If they are willing to put in the effort and believe that retaking will improve their grades and chances of success, then it may be worth it. However, if they are simply retaking because they feel pressure from others, it may not be the best decision. It's important for students to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision that is right for them.

If you're interested in exploring which revision technique is best for you, you can find some tips in this article.

Is retaking A-Levels bad?

Retaking A-levels is not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly does not have to be seen as a failure. Many students retake A-levels every year to improve their grades, and this can lead to more opportunities for university entrance and future careers. In fact, some universities and employers view the determination and effort required to retake A-levels in a positive light.

However, there are some potential downsides to retaking A-levels that students should be aware of. Retaking exams can be a stressful and time-consuming process, and it may impact other areas of a student's life. Additionally, some universities and employers may prefer to see a student's potential based on their predicted grades rather than their resit grades. This is because universities and employers want to see a student's ability to learn and progress without additional support or resits.

A senior A-Level Maths tutor said:

"Retaking your A-levels can be a strategic decision, offering a valuable opportunity to enhance your academic profile. Are you prepared to invest the time to significantly improve your prospects for university admissions and competitive career paths? This choice is about leveraging your full potential for tangible success in higher education and beyond. It is definitely worth it, just make sure you follow the right steps and use the best A-Level resources to prepare for your exam this time."

Ultimately, whether retaking A-levels is "bad" or not depends on the individual circumstances and goals of the student. Students should weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks before deciding whether to retake their exams.

Get expert help with your A-Levels

The world's leading online A-Level tutoring provider trusted by students, parents, and schools globally.

4.92/5 based on480 reviews

Do universities accept A-level resits?

Universities have different policies on accepting A-level resits, with some being more lenient than others. However, the general consensus is that retaking A-levels will not negatively impact your chances of getting into university, especially if you can demonstrate improvement in your grades. According to UCAS, more than half of UK universities do accept applicants who have retaken their A-level exams. In some cases, universities may require that you achieve a certain grade on your resit in order to meet their entry requirements.

In recent years, there has been a trend of more students retaking their A-level exams. In 2020, the proportion of A-level entries that were resits increased to 8.9%, up from 8.2% in 2019. This trend may be due to the increased competition for university places, as well as the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online tutors point out that it's worth noting that some highly selective universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, may view multiple resits as a negative factor in the admissions process. However, this does not apply to all universities, and it's important to research the policies of the universities you're interested in applying to.

Overall, while it's important to take A-level resits seriously and aim to improve your grades, it's also important to remember that universities do consider a range of factors in their admissions decisions. Your grades are just one part of your application, and universities also consider factors such as your personal statement, extracurricular activities, and references.

If you're confused in choosing between Oxford or Cambridge University, you may find this article helpful.

What happens if you do worse in A-Level resits?

A-level resits offer a second chance to improve your grades and secure a place at your desired university or college. However, there is always the possibility of performing worse in your resits than in your original exams. In such a scenario, universities and colleges may still consider your application but may offer you an alternative course or institution. Moreover, some universities may not accept A-level resits if you have performed worse than your previous results. It is important to note that a drop in grades can affect your university choices and may limit your options.

Half of UK students who resit their A-levels improve their grades, while 30% see no improvement, and 20% see a decline in their results. If you fall in the last category, it is important to remain calm and consider your options. You can seek advice from your teachers or college counsellors and consider alternative routes, such as vocational courses or apprenticeships.

Universities and colleges have different policies regarding A-level resits, and it is important to research their requirements before applying. Some universities, such as the University of Cambridge, may not consider A-level resits for certain courses, while others, such as the University of Warwick, may accept them on a case-by-case basis. It is important to contact universities directly and ask about their policies regarding A-level resits.

In conclusion, if you perform worse in your A-level resits, it may limit your university options, but it does not necessarily mean the end of your academic journey. There are always alternative routes and courses that you can consider. It is essential to research and communicate with universities and seek advice from professionals to make informed decisions.

Where and when can you resit A-Levels?

Resitting A-Levels is possible through a variety of methods, depending on your circumstances and preference. Students can resit their A-Level exams either at their own school or college, or they can choose to take their exams at another school or college as a private candidate. Some students may choose to enrol in an online course to help them prepare for their resits.

The resit exams for A-Levels are typically held in the summer, usually around the end of May and early June. However, there are other opportunities to resit exams throughout the year, such as in October and January. It is essential to check the registration deadlines and resit dates with the exam boards, as they may differ depending on the subject and the exam board.

Additionally, if you are considering resitting your A-Levels, it is important to start preparing early. This could include revising your course material, seeking additional support from teachers or expert A-Level tutors, or enrolling in an online course or programme to help you prepare for your exams.


Retaking A-levels is a decision that demands careful consideration of its potential academic and personal impacts. Students must weigh the costs and emotional strain against the possibility of achieving the grades necessary for their desired university courses. With thorough preparation and a clear understanding of the commitment required, retaking A-levels can be a valuable opportunity for those looking to fulfill their educational and career ambitions.


Where can I find A-Level past papers?

At TutorChase, we offer a comprehensive collection of free A-Level past papers covering all subjects and exam boards, explore them here:

Need help from an expert?

4.92/5 based on480 reviews

The world’s top online tutoring provider trusted by students, parents, and schools globally.

Study and Practice for Free

Trusted by 100,000+ Students Worldwide

Achieve Top Grades in your Exams with our Free Resources.

Practice Questions, Study Notes, and Past Exam Papers for all Subjects!

Need Expert Help?

If you’re looking for assistance with retaking A-levels and achieving a top grade, get in touch with the TutorChase team and we’ll be able to provide you with an expert A-level tutor. We’ll be there every step of the way!



Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Written by: Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Oxford University - PhD Mathematics

Rahil spent ten years working as private tutor, teaching students for GCSEs, A-Levels, and university admissions. During his PhD he published papers on modelling infectious disease epidemics and was a tutor to undergraduate and masters students for mathematics courses.

Get Expert Help
background image

Hire a tutor

Please fill out the form and we'll find a tutor for you

Phone number (with country code)

Still have questions? Let’s get in touch.