A-level Retakes

"I have gained so much through my experience at Oxford Tutorial College and with the superb tuition and mentoring, I have achieved more than I ever expected."
 Ben Wentworth

Oxford Tutorial College gives students the opportunity to study for A-level retakes at both AS and A2 level.

The college offers students a motivating environment in which to take a fresh look at their work. The purposeful yet informal teaching style puts students at ease, and tutors work closely with each student to iron out difficulties and develop both subject knowledge and technique. 

Individual Tuition

Small study groups are held in the more popular subjects and each student has one-to-one tuition either within the group framework or as a separate weekly slot. In less popular subjects, or options or where the student prefers, a course of entirely one-to-one tuition takes place. Typical teaching patterns are six group hours, or four group hours plus a one-hour individual tutorial, or possibly three hours individual tuition.

Course structure

Each course involves a systematic and thorough review of the main syllabus topics, checking understanding of the material and the ability to manipulate it under exam conditions. In order to fulfil the requirements of the A-level exam, a student must not only possess clear and detailed syllabus knowledge, which can be recalled at will, but must also have mastered writing and question-answering techniques, such as selection, planning and timing. It is a combination of knowledge and technique that enables a student to do well and our re-take courses address both, ensuring that you have all the tools you require.

One-to-one Tuition

There is normally some emphasis on one-to-one tuition on our A-level resit courses, to help deal with specific difficulties encountered by the individual. This gives the re-take courses a unique focus for each student, enabling them to put particular effort into the areas of their work that need most attention, with maximum tutor support.

One-to-one tuition is an extremely flexible method which is ideal for students resitting A-levels, who tend to need specific help with a number of key subject areas. It allows students to work at their own pace and to focus on their own needs, with the tutor's undivided attention. To be effective, this method demands that the student is well-organised and motivated. An average of three to four hours' preparation should be expected for each one-hour tutorial.

Seminar Groups

The syllabus is carefully reviewed in the seminar groups, with an emphasis on key topic areas; guidance is given with analysis and application, with reference to previous exam questions. A set of revision materials is developed, to replace or supplement existing notes and materials. Study techniques, such as reading, note-taking and revision skills are developed. Seminar groups provide an active learning situation, with discussion of syllabus topics under the tutor's guidance. Small group sizes allow for a high degree of personal attention. One or two hours' preparation is required on average for each study group hour.

Science PracticalPracticals

Those who need to improve their grade in practical exams or assessments in the sciences are normally expected to take additional laboratory sessions. A thorough grounding is provided in the essential knowledge, methods and techniques required to satisfy this part of the exam. Other subjects with a practical component may also involve supplementary practical sessions.


"To say Oxford Tutorial College was a life changing experience sounds a bit dramatic, but I really do feel that the time I spent there has changed me completely, I now have A level grades I can feel proud of, a place at my first choice university and a much more mature approach to my academic work. It has also given me more self belief and independence, which I have no doubt will stand me in good stead for my time at university." 
Tom Rendell

Full-year Retakes

A retake course over a full academic year may be the more sensible choice, allowing sufficient time to make the necessary improvements in both subject knowledge and answering technique to achieve the best grade. For those looking for a significant grade improvement in two or more subjects, a full-year course is recommended. 

One and Two-Term Retakes

Students can undertake their retake studies over one or two terms, with the terminal examinations in May/June. This short and rigorous approach to a retake course is ideal for the student who has narrowly missed their target grade and simply needs to polish up syllabus knowledge, revision and examination technique. It assumes that knowledge and understanding are basically sound and concentrates on improving the response to examination questions by practice from past paper questions. For the able student, there is time to make significant improvement with little opportunity to lose momentum.

The college offers retakes in the full range of subjects and modules from January to June, with examinations in May/June. Students on this course attend group and individual tutorials throughout the Hilary term and the Easter Revision Course. In some cases it is possible to begin a retake course in February or early March, with students studying intensively and attending the Easter Revision Course in addition to tutorials.

Other options

Combining Retake and First-time Courses

A student who needs to improve existing grades should carefully consider the likelihood of success. It is only worth retaking a subject if there is a good hope of an improved grade; you should be certain the existing grade is not a realistic one. It may be better to begin a new subject, rather than persevere with one which has not been a success. Taking a combination of retake and first-time subjects is a feasible option given that some A-level subjects may be successfully taught over one year. Subject choice will depend upon background knowledge, interest, compatibility with other subjects being studied, likely workload and relevance to the planned degree course. Please contact us for advice and information. We are happy to help you select suitable subjects for first-time study. A list of subjects taught at the college is available here.

"I think the teaching speaks for itself, looking at the grades which are achieved by the students. I studied Biology, Chemistry and Maths and I must say the teaching was absolutely excellent.

In each subject, I was taught a lot more detail than in my previous school... and what I enjoyed the most; learning about the practical application of the topics I was studying in the day to day economy and industry. This was very fascinating.

Now I am a first year Dental student at Birmingham University (my first choice) and am enjoying it a lot.  I can only recommend any student, retake or not, to complete their A-Level studies at OTC, especially if they may not have gained the grades they deserved in the first place."
Neal Raval

University Applications

Students who resit A-levels normally wish to apply to a British university for the following year and careful help is given with the UCAS application and with any university entrance tests preparation that may be required. It is important to get the choice of institutions and courses right, to make sure that realistic offers are received; this is particularly crucial with the more competitive degree courses. The personal statement is an important part of the application and care is taken to ensure that students present themselves in as positive a way as possible.

It is worth being aware of universities' attitudes towards those students who retake A-levels to make sure that an application is not wasted. Most universities tend not to 

University Guidancediscriminate against retakers, although for the more competitive degree courses the requirement may be slightly higher than normal. However, the fact that a student is prepared to resit suggests commitment and the additional preparation involved in a revision course tends to emphasise sound study habits, putting students in a good position to begin work at degree level.

Once the application is completed, further guidance is given as university offers are received. Help with interview technique is offered, as required; 'mock' interviews are held to give students confidence. Our advice does not cease just because a student has completed his or her course; we continue to offer help until results are received and offers confirmed.

Finally, retaking A-levels can offer a good student the chance fully to reassess his or her goals, and to learn how to study more effectively. Every year, students leave our A-level retake courses, confident in the knowledge that not only have they significantly improved their performance, but that they have acquired the necessary study skills and maturity to make a far greater success of their degree course than they might have thought possible a few months earlier.