GCSE results 2023: What can I do if I don't get the grades I want?

A group of students opening up their GCSE results.
Thousands of teenagers across Wales nervously await their GCSE results, which they will receive on Thursday. Credit: PA

After last week's A-level results day, it is the turn of GCSE students to find out their grades on Thursday.

Thousands of teenagers across Wales are waiting nervously to find out whether they can take their next steps as planned - whether that is onto A-levels, an apprenticeship or employment - or whether they are going to be forced to alter their plans slightly.

Many 16-year-olds will get the results they want or perhaps even exceed their expectations, but there will inevitably be some who are left disappointed.

Whilst some pupils will be happy with their GCSE results, there will inevitably be some who are left disappointed. Credit: PA

If you do not get the results you hoped for, do not panic - there are plenty of options, but what are they?


Many pupils will be hoping their GCSE results are good enough to allow them to take their chosen A-levels.

Schools often set a minimum grade that needs to be reached to continue studying a subject to a higher level.

Whilst it may be that certain subjects will not be an option for some pupils based on their results, Careers Wales recommends choosing subjects based on a number of factors.

They include whether you enjoy the subject, if it will benefit your eventual career aspirations and whether you need a C grade in English, Welsh or maths to study it.

Getting your paper re-marked or appealing your results

For students who feel their exams have not been marked fairly, or think there was a mistake made in assessing them, there is the option of asking for your paper to be re-marked, or you can appeal the result.

If, following a remark, you and your school still think there is an error, it can then submit an appeal on your behalf.

GCSEs are typically marked using letters in Wales, such as A*, but are marked numerically in England. Credit: ITV

Post-16 qualifications

There are a range of both academic and vocational qualifications which can be studied beyond the age of 16.

All young people are able to access some form of post-16 education or training.

Whilst some - such as A-levels, Baccalaureates and NVQs are familiar - others could be completely new.

There are still plenty of options, even for students who did not perform as they would have liked in their exams. Credit: PA

Technical qualifications or an applied learning course could be a good option for you - especially if you know the type of job, even if not the specific role, you eventually want to progress into.

Some courses will give you the equivalent of one or more A-level qualifications, depending on the nature of what you are doing.

They can also enable you to go on to further education, including going to university, or training and employment.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships are becoming an increasingly popular options, often providing a more hands-on, practical option than more traditional academic routes.

It can sometimes be hard to narrow down exactly which one to choose, but there is plenty of advice available online, as well as via a careers advisor.

Vocational options and apprenticeships are an option for those who do not want to do A-levels. Credit: ITV Wales

Apprenticeships and traineeships can provide a gateway to a specific industry or career, from business or hospitality to law or education.

For example, describing what a law apprenticeship could involve, UCAS said: "An apprenticeship in law is a practical, work-based route into your chosen career."

A significant advantage of this option is being able to earn as you learn, being paid a salary during your apprenticeship or traineeship rather than going on to pay university fees.

Where can I go for help?  

There is plenty of further, more in-depth information, available online about what to do if you need to review your plans.

Some useful sources include UCAS, Careers Wales and the WJEC websites.

Your school or college is also well-placed to offer you advice, with teachers knowing you well and having experience helping other pupils.

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