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A levels and their examinations are a crucial part of the U.K.’s education system, forming the basis for admission into the majority of universities. However, evidence shows that many candidates do not achieve the grades that they need.

A study by the Centre for Education Research and Policy into AQA data found that 43% of all A level candidates resit at least one of their units. [1]. It’s almost a rite of passage for many candidates to breathe, recollect, and thereafter retake their A levels after their initial try.

However, a question that we often hear from students looking to enrol and resit their A levels at Greene’s is: how do the universities themselves view A level retakes? This article will explain all of the ins and outs of UCAS & A level retakes.

Sour results? Let’s make lemonade.

Discover A level retakes at Greene’s

1. Do universities know if you retake your A levels?

When you apply for a degree or a programme at a university, the admissions team will be aware of all of your grades as you will have to declare the already-certified A level grades and your re-sit intentions. You should not let this affect your intention to either resit your A level or apply to any specific university. If you are unsure about retaking an A level and wish to consult a professional, please contact us.

2. Do universities accept fewer than 3 A levels?

The typical offer for a place on a degree at a university is based on three A levels, or equivalent. The majority of universities require 112 UCAS tariff points, equivalent to three A levels at BBC grades, two A levels and one BTEC, or two BTECs and one A level. This means that if you only have two A levels and a strong enough accompanying BTEC grade, you might be offered a place (depending on the university and its minimum course requirements).

A few universities do actually accept students with just two A levels by themselves.

It is important to remember that universities may also look at your GCSE qualifications for further academic reference – they want to be sure of your ability to handle the volume and depth of information disseminated and received during your desired degree (and associated examinations or assignments), and your English and Mathematics skills.

We recommend that an A level retake is the best way for students to recollect, revise, and become stronger in their subject area so that they are fully ready for their desired university degree. No two students learn at the same pace, which is why we work with you to design your education at Greene’s. Click here to learn more about A level retakes at Greene’s.

3. How do universities regard A level retakes?

It is a mistake to think that all universities operate in the same way, or under one umbrella, as they are different, separate entities.

Each university has at least one admissions team. Your application, if strong enough, could allow the admissions team to offer you a place. However, in other cases, the admissions team work with tutors or lecturers to evaluate the strength of your application.

It is key to understand that each admissions team at each university is constantly dealing with a multitude of different factors when considering applicants, some of which are: the variety of courses that are accepting students for the year, the number of students that can take a course, the number of students that have applied for a course, and the grades received by the applicants.

Different admissions teams thus have different views on A level retakes, and this view may change day-to-day, month-to-month, or year-to-year, depending on things outside of your control. If you are unsure, you can always contact the admissions team of your desired university and ask for their view on A level retakes.

The best mentality that an A level retake student can have to combat this element of unsurety is one comprised of self-review, self-acceptance, and absolute confidence. Remember: you can only control the things within your sphere of influence. Many of our Greene’s retake students make use of their Personal Tutors, who guide them on their approach to UCAS applications. Our students also perfect their examination technique in numerous trial examinations over the academic year, the results of which also contribute to their predicted grades for UCAS.

Did you know that 92% of all A level retakes at Greene’s improve by at least two grades? Greene’s students also hold offers for 22 out of the 24 Russell Group universities, including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

4. How do A level retakes work?

It is important to remember that candidates looking to retake their A levels can only do so in the Summer examinations period i.e. January resits are no longer an option. To understand all of the different aspects of how an A level retake works, please refer to our comprehensive guide here. If you are still unsure and have an unanswered question, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our staff here, who would more than happy to help you.



About Greene's

About Greene’s


Greene’s College Oxford is an independent sixth form college with campuses located in the heart of Oxford, U.K. and in Estoril, Portugal. At Greene’s College Oxford, our educational philosophy is based on one simple assumption: if students’ education is tailored to suit their unique qualities and needs, they are more likely to be successful. Study at Greene’s College Oxford blends small group or individual tutorials, dynamic feedback on learning, and one-to-one weekly Personal Tutoring sessions to ensure all students have personalised guidance. Click here to learn more about Greene’s.


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