Retaking your GCSEs as an adult – it’s not too late

Retaking your GCSEs as an adult – it’s not too late

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Retaking GCSEs, for adults, can be a challenge.  You may have been out of learning for a long time and lost a lot of the skills and knowledge gained when at school.  It might also feel too late in the day.  GCSEs will just be the start of the education you will need to really make use of academic qualifications, and you will feel a long way from your ideal job.

Can you retake GCSEs at any age? The definite answer is yes. Not only is it possible, but it is also likely necessary. With longer lives and more chance that you will be forced to change positions at some point, it is essential to make yourself as desirable as possible.  Therefore, retaking your GCSEs and then moving onto A levels and other higher qualifications could be the best choice you make.

Why should I retake my examinations?

Most industries require a minimum entry requirement.  You may need to retake maths and English in particular, as these are seen as core competencies.  Many companies will demand that you have 5 GCSEs at a good pass or better.  Therefore, if you want to make a move to a new career or progress in a job you know you will love, retaking your GCSE exams may be your necessary first step.

There is also an answer to this question that goes something like “just because”.  Continuing to learn keeps us interested in life.  You probably know this already – but you might be fearful of failure.  When you return to learning as an adult, you may find it challenging, and you may feel like you are slow to think.  You will soon get back into the swing of things and in some ways may be looking for it to be harder than it is.  Do not underestimate the life experience you bring now, which you would not have had when you were younger.

How will retaking my GCSEs help me?

If you do not want to change jobs or you are sure you could make the change without qualifications, you may wonder why you should bother. There are lots of reasons.  First, you will open opportunities for further education.  You could transform your life with the right course – sending you in a direction you would never have thought about before.  You will increase your employability and therefore improve your potential earnings.  Most employers love it when you continue to add to your CV in this way.

Finally, continuing to learn helps keep our minds agile, allowing us to meet new people and opens doors to new experiences.  It may feel like a risk to return to learning; however, the rewards are worth the effort.

Who can resit GCSEs?

Anyone can resit GCSEs – no matter your age or your life experience.  It doesn’t matter if you have just left school or if you are closing in on retirement, you can look to start learning and increase your capabilities.

Once you resit your GCSEs, whether it is English, Maths or Science – or some new specialisms like Law or Psychology – you can then progress on A-levels or other vocational qualifications. And taking on a GCSE doesn’t mean going back into the classroom – you can choose from a range of online GCSE courses that can be studied from your own home.

The logistics

Now you have decided that retaking your GCSE is for you, it is time to work out how to resit the examination, and to decide whether you’d like to take standard GCSEs or IGCSEs.  The logistics will be different for those who have recently left school to those who have been away from school for some time.  If you have only just taken your exams and need to resit, you can speak to your college or school and ask if you can retake the examination straight away.  Some colleges may allow you to progress onto further study while you do the GCSE course again.

If you have been away from school a while, and you want to take the time to learn the skills and knowledge again, you will need to sign up to a course.  You can sign up to such a course online, at night school or as a short course.  It usually takes between 12 and 18 months to gain a GCSE – though some sessions are more intense.

Whether you take your GCSE online or with an educational provider, you will be expected to pay a fee for the teaching and the examination fees. You may also need to purchase supplies to help with your studies – for instance, you may need to buy course books or stationery supplies.   You should expect to receive tutor support, practice examinations, and specific resources to help you in your studies.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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