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One year A Level resits-Your route to a top university

Many students arrive at RIC each year having missed their offers and leave with three top grades and a first choice university place- even for subjects like Medicine- after an intensive A level retake course. Equally important is the self-confidence gained from these successful educational makeovers. If you have missed your A level offer grades and are not happy with the thought of applying through Clearing there are positive options for students needing to resit their A levels. We have been offering intensive A level resit courses since 1984 and on average students improve by two grades in a year, taking Bs to A*s and Cs to As. Resitting A levels at RIC is not like going back to school. There’s no uniform, no petty rules, and teachers and students are on first name terms. It’s a stepping-stone between school and university.

The Good Schools Guide say about retaking at RIC: "Many students transfer here after poor progress at A level and the effect can be dramatic. It’s a sound investment- among the retakers all got into university and three-quarters won Russell Group places."

RIC has very limited places this year for intensive A level retake courses running September 2023-June 2024 or January 2024-June 2024 so please contact us swiftly to discuss your resit options.

Students who opt for a retake year are able to reflect carefully on their chosen academic direction. Were you doing the right subjects first time around? You can combine resits with new subjects. Why do you need to retake and how are you going to approach things differently seconds time around?

Students retaking their A levels in 2023 have secured places at a range of Russell Group universities including Medicine at Sheffield and Newcastle, and Art History at Exeter and UCL,

Guide for students thinking about A level resits

• One Year A level retake courses allow students to be comprehensively retaught. Class sizes average eight. Exam practice is weekly and students are kept on target. Individualised help is plentiful.

• Some students on A level resit courses have missed periods of school in the past due to illness. Some have struggled with exam technique, organisation or knowing how to study and revise independently. Others have not flourished in previous schools or simply not worked hard enough before! All benefit from supportive personal tutors and university application expertise.

• In order to make an A level retake course as stimulating and productive as possible it is usual for students to add at least one new subject studied intensively to full A level. Students often do better with fresh A levels than they would have done retaking A level subjects that were not right for them in the first place.

• We are able to offer places in our on campus halls of residence to students on A level resit courses. We group such older, university aged students together in boarding. The atmosphere is closer to a university halls of residence than a traditional boarding school but with more structure and support.

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Daisy, Class of 2020, Destination: Medicine at Sheffield

I joined RIC in 2019 to resit my A levels. I remember the stress of not getting into university and trying to plan what to do next, and all I can say is that I am so relieved I made the decision I did. The teachers here are so different to any others from my previous schools, they are inspiring. It’s a whole different experience being taught by people who are so passionate about their subjects. I came to RIC with B C D grades in Maths Biology and Chemistry, and left after only one year with A* A* A respectively. I am so grateful for the welcoming and safe environment the school provided me with, and I can say with completely confidence that it was solely due to the teachers and staff at RIC that I was able to do as well as I did, and I thank them for helping me to reach my full potential. I knew from reading the website myself before I joined that resit students at RIC often come out with a huge improvement but it seemed unbelievable that I could achieve the same. I can tell you honestly that this school has changed my life, not only academically, and I am only sorry to be leaving so soon.

Daisy, Class of 2020, Destination: Medicine at Sheffield
2016 A Level Resit Success For Boarders
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A 2019 retake success story heading to Bristol with A*A*A, this time for Economics and Politics, is Charlie from St Olave’s Grammar, featured in one of the videos below. He says: “I could have gone to university with the grades I had last year and that makes it even harder when you know all your friends are settled on degree courses. But I knew I could do better. It is particularly hard at first when all your mates are already at university but I have matured a lot this year and appreciate the need for hard work much more than I did before. You actually have to work hard if you really want something. To anyone who is thinking of going to RIC to retake I’d say, go for it. They know what they are doing!”

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2019 Success- Resit for the Russell Group

RIC's 40+ Year 14 retakers have been successful at securing places for Medicine at KCL, Finance at Durham, Film at Warwick, Pharmacy at Nottingham, Mechatronics and Robotics at Leeds, Architecture at Cardiff, Engineering at UCL, Biomedical Sciences at Edinburgh and Marine Zoology at Newcastle among many other Russell Group universities.

Students resitting one year A levels or taking one year A level intensive courses in 2019 also won places at leading specialist institutions including UAL for Fine Art (Painting) and the Royal Veterinary College for Vet Science.

Year 13 at former schools was unlucky for some but many students turned things around in 2019 by opting for an extra year of sixth form in RIC’s year 14, taking a mixture of one year A level and retake courses. Freddy from The Judd School, Tonbridge improved his grades from BBC to A*A*A and now has a place at Bristol University for Aerospace Engineering. He’ll be joined there by another Freddy from King’s Canterbury who improved his A levels from CDE to A*A*A and will study Engineering Mathematics.

2018 Success

All RIC resit students who applied to Russell Group universities received at least one, and in many cases up to five offers, from this group of the UK’s leading higher education institutions.

What gives Rochester Independent College’s A level retake students the competitive edge when reapplying for university is that they often add new A level subjects completed as one year intensive courses alongside their A level resits to properly prepare them for their chosen course of study and demonstrate their academic potential.

It is always a shock not to receive the grades you wanted, but it need not be the end of high aspirations. Joel achieved grades ABB at The Judd School but this was not enough for the course he was aiming at. Joel retook two subjects and added English Literature from scratch, gaining A*AA and a place at Exeter.

“I really enjoyed English and was so pleased with my A* result, especially since it was my only B at GCSE. Social and political protest writing linked well with Politics and Economics.

RIC has been a stepping stone between school and university. Weekly boarding meant that I could get my creature comforts at home yet have a social life at college, living with people the same age as me. Taking control of my own education ensured I had the motivation to succeed.”

Rochester Independent College offers a range of one year A level courses that can be successfully combined with A level resits. The one thing to remember is that retaking A-levels does not necessarily diminish your chances of attending a top university and, through the years, RIC has enabled retake students to actually improve their future academic prospects as students leave us to start degree programmes they initially thought beyond their reach before joining us.

Faustina's Grade C in A level Chemistry at her last school thwarted her long-held ambition to become a doctor. She says: “This time last year I was very confused and upset. Thankfully I read testimonials on the internet regarding the successes of students that had attended RIC. I spent the year resitting A level Chemistry and taking a new A level in Sociology. The support from the teachers with rewriting a personal statement and preparing for interviews was invaluable. Today, I am delighted to say that I can be like others in recommending RIC and the wonderful teaching service and support they offer, regardless of previous academic achievements.”

Exeter University Of Bristol

Exeter University, the most popular choice for RIC retakers in the last few years say in their admissions policy: “The University does not discriminate against applicants who have re-taken part or all of a qualification and will treat an achieved or predicted qualification grade in the same way irrespective of whether or not re-takes are involved (this applies to all our programmes including BMBS Medicine).”

"I would like to thank you and your staff for enabling Hannah to get the grades she needed for University. You took a girl in pieces after the disappointment of her A level results last year and turned her into a confident and successful young woman. She has now been accepted to study Zoology at Bristol, her dream university, and she would not have done it without you all." Gill

Student A Level

Having set my heart on medicine, I was devastated when I fell short of the grades I needed for the offer I held at Barts. I soon realised that if my dream was to become a reality, I needed to keep at it and resit. This year has better prepared me for university and I now feel fully equipped to take on the new challenge. With the help of RIC, I was over the moon to achieve two offers for medicine.

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2017 A level Resit Success for Boarders

Obviously no one plans to need to retake A levels and missing offers and having to do so is disappointing. After this initial disappointment however students often report looking back on their A level retake year as a positive experience that properly prepares them for university. The RIC boarding option for those doing A level retakes or one year A level courses allows students from other schools to still move on, as they might have initially planned to do, before results day changed their original higher education plans. Many opt to weekly board at RIC for their A level resits from London or elsewhere in the South East.

Where the grade improvements required are modest RIC is able to offer a flexible range of short retake programmes running from January-June or even, in exceptional circumstances, March-June.

Those aiming for places on highly competitive university courses such as Law, English, Physiotherapy, Dentistry and Veterinary Science will find themselves in A level resit and intensive one year A level groups of similarly dedicated students keen to make rapid progress.

Chris who joined from King’s Canterbury went from BBC at A level in Chemistry, Maths and Biology to A*AA, winning a Durham place for Biological Sciences. Toby from Bryanston School in Somerset improved his CDD to ABB. Particularly noteworthy is that while Toby retook his Economics taking it from a C to an A he opted to take two new subjects from scratch in one year, English Literature and Film Studies. His parents said: “We are relieved and grateful in equal measure. It has helped his confidence greatly. He is really buzzed about Loughborough which is also positive.”

Another boarding student retake success is Freddie from Tonbridge School who improved his grades from BEE to ABB and now has a place to study Marketing and Management at Newcastle University. Freddie retook his Fine Art A level and again took two new subjects from scratch, Film Studies and Graphic Design.

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A level Resit Success for Boarders

Chris who joined from King’s Canterbury went from BBC at A level in Chemistry, Maths and Biology to A*AA, winning a Durham place for Biological Sciences. Toby from Bryanston School in Somerset improved his CDD to ABB. Particularly noteworthy is that while Toby retook his Economics taking it from a C to an A he opted to take two new subjects from scratch in one year, English Literature and Film Studies. His parents said: “We are relieved and grateful in equal measure. It has helped his confidence greatly. He is really buzzed about Loughborough which is also positive.”

Another boarding student retake success is Freddie from Tonbridge School who improved his grades from BEE to ABB and now has a place to study Marketing and Management at Newcastle University. Freddie retook his Fine Art A level and again took two new subjects from scratch, Film Studies and Graphic Design.

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Chris, Wayne and Adam

Success! Thank you Rochester Independent College. From the first minute, we and Adam felt that RIC would be a good choice, Adam had his confidence crushed and felt deserted by his previous fee paying school after performing poorly in his A2 exams. The staff at RIC immediately assured Adam and us that he could achieve his goals. Today he passed three completely new A levels that he only started last September. We are both so proud of him and we are really appreciative that the staff were able to advise and support Adam and drive him to work hard to achieve what he wanted to do, he is in a much better place today, due to, not only his efforts but also largely to all his tutors and staff. We all as a family strongly recommend RIC. 

Chris, Wayne and Adam
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Hallam Dyckhoff

Hallam joined RIC as a boarding student from King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford (KEGS), one of the top performing state schools in the country. Hallam’s entry grades were CDE in Economics, Philosophy and Maths. After a year at RIC combining resits with one year courses Hallam’s grades were an impressive AABB in English Literature, Film Studies, Economics and Philosophy. These grades won Hallam a place at Southampton University to study Philosophy.


Retake students often combine resitting with adding new subjects to both impress universities and make their academic gap year more interesting. Isabella from the Judd School took A level Sociology alongside her Chemistry and Biology retakes. She gained three A* grades and a coveted place at London’s Royal Veterinary College, the oldest and largest veterinary school in the UK and one of only seven in the country where students can study to become a vet.

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Do Russell Group and other top universities accept students who need to retake their A levels?

Universities do recognise the commitment of students who opt to resit their A levels and even the top Russell universities give offers to RIC’s A level resit students every year. Last year A level retake students applying for Law won places at Exeter, Birmingham, Newcastle and Lancaster.

At Rochester Independent College we start preparing students for their university application early. The level of support and guidance our sixth form students have from their teachers and Personal Tutors when preparing their applications is unusual and perhaps helps explain their success in winning places.

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I come from a background studying an international school in Istanbul. I lived there with my family and completed the Diploma but was very disappointed with my results. RIC was recommended to me by friends whose daughter had had the same experience but came to Rochester, switched to intensive A levels and did really well. It seems to me that the main difference between A levels and IB is that A levels allow me to focus on the subjects I am interested in. Also, it is essential to be well rounded academically to achieve a high score at IB, I’m mainly interested in the sciences so it was harder for me. I’ve had a good boarding experience at RIC, especially considering that this is my first time living away from the family. I can’t go home at weekends but I feel safe and looked after. The food is great too. I play football in a local league and we are currently second in the division! I think that RIC has been a great transition for university. I wish now that I had taken A levels in the first place as I always knew that I wanted to study Bioscience at university. I am now taking fast track A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths at RIC and I feel really prepared, I’ve had lots of support. I have a number of offers but am hoping to get AAB to go Bath. When I finish my exams I’ve got four weeks kite surfing planned in Turkey.

Emily Martyn
Emily, joined RIC from Tonbridge Grammar

When I got my A level results I got CDD and knew I had to make a difficult decision. I had an amazing expedition planned – a placement at a big cat sanctuary in Malaysia then travelling round Asia and Africa. I now had to decide whether to take a clearing place at a university that I didn’t really want to go to or retake. I decided to retake and it has been such a brilliant experience. I get so much encouragement that my confidence has improved enormously – even my driving instructor has noticed it! Any worries about not knowing anyone soon disappeared as everyone is in the same boat so we have lots in common.

Emily, joined RIC from Tonbridge Grammar

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