A level retakes courses in London – Retaking A levels

Ashbourne wants to attract ambitious, hardworking and independent students who are capable of reaching at least a B grade standard but want help to push that to A or A*.

Such students will not settle for second best and, despite the initial setback of disappointing results, have the resilience to try again. They thrive in an environment which is encouraging, supportive and ambitious and appreciate the encouragement to explore the depths of any subject without fear. They are competitive and will want to be challenged to fulfil their potential and understand that confidence improves grades. For all intents and purposes, all grades of retake candidates improve with almost 95% at B grade or better. The majority of our students go on to Russell Group universities.

Moving to Ashbourne may involve a change of syllabus but the knowledge a student has already acquired at their first attempt, makes this task quite straightforward. For the same reason, this prior knowledge means completing the syllabus in one year is equally straightforward and allows our students sufficient time to focus on detail that they missed previously. In fact, many of our retake students succeed in their retake year whilst taking a new subject from scratch. Politics, Philosophy, Psychology and Film are frequent choices whose exam results rarely disappoint.

Moving to a new environment might seem daunting but students should be optimistic. Over half of our students have never been here before; the environment is stimulating, never intimidating, so students quickly settle in. Our approach to education is refreshing and exciting. Lessons in groups of fewer than 10 students provide engagement, individual attention and a relationship between staff and students which is grown up and informal. These small groups allow us to feedback to students in ways not possible with larger class sizes, in particular because this feature enables us to set much more homework than most may have experienced previously. Each student has a personal tutor who will guide and direct the UCAS process and oversee their academic progress. We are much more focused on exams and exam technique than is usual, and each half term there is a mock exam based on previous exam paper questions. After this mock exam a progress report will be prepared for you and your parents by each of your teachers.

Ashbourne suits those students who are ambitious, hardworking and independent and in general helps them move from a B standard to A or A*. The majority move on to Russell Group universities. Just over one third of our students come from abroad with Russia, China and Viet Nam among the greatest representations. Among our students there is a wonderful diversity of personalities, interests and goals, in part because we offer more than 25 different subjects at A level. These range from Art and Design and Performing Arts to Maths, Sciences and Economics, including traditional subjects as well as Psychology, Classics and History of Art. These are complemented with an array of co-curricular activities.


What to consider before retaking your A level courses

Most universities will regard a decision to retake as a sign of determination, perseverance and ambition. Nonetheless, any student considering retaking their A levels should always ask the relevant university faculty to confirm that a re-application will be welcome and to specify the grades that might now be required.

If you have missed your offer by a small margin you should contact the university’s admissions department who may be pleased to accept you anyway. If not, the university might be able to offer you a place on a course that is closely related to your first choice. You may need to be patient getting through to the department during busy application periods.

 “My A-level journey was not a traditional one. I didn’t perform as expected the first time I completed my AS and A2s. As a result, I ended up doing human biology at Manchester Metropolitan. I realised very quickly that this was completely the wrong place for me. I wish that when I first did my A2s, I would have known the consequences of not doing enough work. So in terms of motivation, I would keep that in the back of your mind. After the first term at Manchester Met, I dropped out to retake at Ashbourne. I worked as hard as I could for 6 months to get the results I needed. In order to do as well as you can, the middle of January is when you really need to start working. The next 6 months, which you will quickly come to realise is a very small and insignificant amount of time in the long run, are some of the most important in your life. If you get the results you want, you will get into your university of choice and have some of the best experiences you’ve ever had and meet some incredible people.”

Theo Kemp (Biochemistry at Bristol, AAA)


Benefits of retaking A levels at Ashbourne

  • Outstanding grade improvement Ashbourne is committed to helping students reach their potential. A student who has achieved BBB could, on average, attain A*AA on retake.
  • Lots of teaching time means that you may complete the syllabus in a relaxed and confident manner, with plenty of time for engagement and structured, supervised work in class.
  • Specialist courses Ashbourne offers more than 30 years’ experience in delivering highly successful A Level retake and one-year courses.
  • A fresh, more grown-up approach to education quickly renews the spirit and provides a clean break from stale mind-sets and attitudes. Students’ performance is revitalised through contact with colleagues who share similar ambitions and aspirations.
  • Exam practice is too often in the background at traditional schools. In any field, excellence is achieved through dedicated effort guided by inspired and inspiring teachers and coaches. Our straightforward focus on examination preparation is simple, effective and transformational.
  • Individual attention, communication and feedback. The importance of small classes cannot be exaggerated but they are more effective when complemented by Personal Tutors. These dedicated teachers encourage and guide students to realise their academic potential and are a reassuring point of contact in dealing with parents’ concerns.
Why Choose Ashbourne College?
I loved the casualness between teacher and student and also I loved the fact that I was essentially, the one responsible for myself and parents were not frequently contacted for any reason i.e to sign up for clubs etc. The responsibility- to turn up on time, to hand in homework on time, to revise effectively- all being left to me, really spurred on me to be productive and hard working. I hope to eventually be working in the city as a trader for a large bank, after doing this in the short term I hope to take money I have saved and open a fashion retail store that stocks up and coming brands in London somewhere. I genuinely feel like Ashbourne has given me the confidence i once lacked to be able to do this
MilunPhilosophy, Politics and Economics at University of Leeds
She feels well respected as a pupil and gets the assistance she needs to understand the material
If I had to describe Ashbourne in three words it would be welcoming, intimate, and fun. I have never met such an eclectic group of people who all get on and are integrated with each other so well. It’s a great opportunity to get the grades that you want alongside gaining confidence and maturity
Emily BoothroydFormer Administrative and Behavioural Assistant and PA to the Director of Studies


2018 retake results


Portuguese A
English Literature B
Psychology B
Biology B

Original grades: BXXX


Economics B

Original grade: D

History at Manchester University 


Economics A
Mathematics A
Physics A

Original grades: CCX

Economics at Warwick University


Mathematics A
Biology B

Original grades: DC

Sports Science


Politics A*
Mathematics A
English Literature A

Original grades: BAX

Law at Durham University 


Mathematics A
Economics B
Chemistry A
Biology B

Original grades: BBXX

Social Science and Quantitative Methods at University College London


Biology A*
Chemistry A*

Original grades: BC


Mathematics A
Politics A

Original grades: BX


Chemistry A
Mathematics A

Original grades: BB


Chemistry A
Biology B

Original grades: CB

Dentistry at Leeds University


Politics B

Original grade: X


Mathematics A
Physics A
Chemistry A

Original grades: BDC

Civil Engineering at Edinburgh University


Chemistry A*
Biology A
Physics A

Original grades: DDB

Natural Sciences at Durham University


Chemistry A
Psychology A

Original grades: CX

Biomedical Sciences at Bristol University


Mathematics A
Chemistry A

Original grades: BX

Economics and Management at Bristol University


Economics A
Psychology B

Original grades: CC

Psychology at Manchester University


Politics A
History B

Original grades: XC

International Relations at Exeter University


Economics B
Mathematics D
Art B

Original grades: CEX

International Business at Oxford Brookes University


Psychology A
Chemistry B
Mathematics C

Original grades: BDE

Natural Sciences at UAE University


Biology A
Psychology A
Chemistry B

Original grades: BXE

Neuroscience at Leeds University

Note: In Original grades, ‘X’ denotes subject not previously studied.
Grade Percentage
A* A 67%
A* AB 98%
A* ABC 100%
Grade Percentage
A* 8%
A 59%
B 31%
C 2%

Apply to retake your A levels at Ashbourne College

Please contact our Admissions Team for further information or to apply on 020 7937 3858, email admissions@ashbournecollege.co.uk or use our enquiry form.

Ashbourne is a private fee-paying college.

Getting into the right university

Ashbourne’s UCAS Tutors offer individual and expert guidance on finding and applying for university courses that match students’ ambitions and abilities. They also provide invaluable interview technique practice for those applying for demanding and highly popular degree courses. Ashbourne also runs specialist Medical School and Engineering programmes, with seminars and outside speakers, as well as preparation for any aptitude tests required by a particular course.


Alternatives to retaking


Your grade(s) might be so inconsistent with your own and your teachers’ expectations that you may consider a request to the exam board for remarking. Be aware, however, that grades often do not change as a result of remarks and may even go down! All remarks must be organised by your school. You can find more information on remarking and post results services here


If you are unsuccessful in getting a place at the university of your choice you may wish to enter the clearing system. You will automatically be sent a‘clearing passport’ number by email. Should you wish to take up a course at another university you will use this to confirm your acceptance. Courses which are still available may be found on the UCAS website.

Gap year

Taking a gap year to travel and work can often help to clarify your thoughts about your future and thus make the years spent at university, should you decide to reapply, more enjoyable and productive.


Useful links