University Admissions and A level Retakes


“CDD meant a difficult decision- a Clearing place at a university that I didn’t really want to go to or retakes. I had an amazing expedition planned – a placement at a big cat sanctuary in Malaysia. I retook and it was such a brilliant experience. My confidence improved enormously – even my driving instructor noticed it!”

emily martyn, retake student 2010. joined RIC from tonbridge grammar, now at york university studying biology

Retake students from Rochester Independent College regularly secure places at elite universities. With the pressure on places likely to be less next September because of the tuition fees hike this might be the perfect year to consider retaking, not compromising in Clearing and aiming high. With the fees cap removed in 2012 students aiming for AAB at retake will have a good choice of top universities. The universities will be free to increase their numbers as long as students have these grades.

RIC’s retake courses run September-January, January- June or September-June depending on individual circumstances. This year Louisa Garcia, formerly of King’s Rochester was able to retake her English and History A levels and follow an AS History of Art course all between September and the end of January. Louisa can now return from her gap year travels to a place at her first choice, Birmingham University.

When deciding to retake it is worth considering that with a degree now far more of a common currency it has become even more important for students to ensure they aim to secure entry to good courses at respected institutions. A level results and UCAS points are increasingly used by major employers when they are recruiting graduates.

Head of Biology at RIC Dr Brenda Harrison says: ”

“It’s refreshing to work with such dedicated students who retake in order to realise their ambitions. In small classes problems can be quickly diagnosed and tackled. Improvement is often rapid.”  

Class sizes number around 6 to 8. Every student has individual attention. We encourage students to see their time at RIC as a university preparatory course. They often comment  it was the most enjoyable and productive part of their secondary education. We don’t just want to help students gain places on their chosen courses, we want them to leave us with the study skills and academic foundation to enjoy and excel at university.

“I’m delighted to see the results of Judd students retaking at RIC and offer my congratulations to the five students who did so this year. We do recommend RIC to our students who are looking for further support and have the means to access it.”  

robert masters, headmaster, the judd school , august 2010

Contrary to popular belief A level retake students, and those who have a disappointing year 12, do secure places on the most highly competitive courses, including Medicine, Veterinary Science, Law and Dentistry.

In 2010 RIC had four aspiring lawyers retaking their A levels. They won LLB places at Birmingham, Exeter, Lancaster and Newcastle.  Judith Wickham, parent of Alistair Wickham from Maidstone said: “This is just to say a very big ‘thank you’ to all of my son’s tutors at Rochester Independent for your superb guidance, expert management of the retake application for Law, unfailing kindness, patience and brilliant teaching. You taught him to think properly, to write clearly and fulfilled every promise you made to us”

RIC students though often avoid a retake year altogether by switching schools for their year 13 following disappointing AS grades elsewhere. Matt Swain formerly of Maidstone Grammar School moved to maximise his chances of becoming a doctor. He says: “My previous school said I was a solid grade B student and wouldn’t make the A grades required for medicine. I was determined to realise my ambition to become a doctor.” Matt’s successful application to Hull and York Medical School was helped not only by a good portfolio of work experience but by taking an additional A level- Sociology- from scratch in a year.

In a similar situation was Roshni Patel from Gravesend Grammar who has just finished her second year of Medicine at St George’s. She says: “I crashed in my AS year so I took a deep breath and switched to RIC. I came from a single sex grammar school which was very different. The small classes at Rochester really helped and I got offers and my grades.” Her parents add: “We were extremely happy with Roshni’s results. This is our second daughter to attend Rochester Independent College after disappointing results. Our older daughter Sarina is in her final year of Dentistry at Queen Mary.”

Head of Science and long serving Chemistry tutor at RIC Hugh Laverty says: “The College has always been a centre of excellence for Science and it is exciting to work with dedicated sixth form students aiming to become doctors, dentists, vets, pharmacists, optometrists and audiologists.”

Just finishing his first year of Dentistry is Matthew Sarstedt.  He had disappointing grades after two years of sixth form at his previous school but would not let these hold him back.

“On results day I knew I had to resit – I was absolutely determined to study dentistry rather than going through clearing for something else.”

First time round, Matthew was rejected from all the Dental schools without interview. Applying from RIC as a resit student- when it should have been harder to get in- he received offers, achieved his grades and started at Sheffield University in September 2010.

Retakers can also make it to Vet School. Callum Atkins, formerly of Simon Langton School, Canterbury was disappointed after receiving his A level results, missing his place. Callum enrolled on a one year retake programme and received an offer from the prestigious Royal Veterinary College. Callum’s A level grades when he arrived were CCC. When he left in 2008 they were AAA. Even this top institution then still considers retake students, as demonstrated by the second chance offer Amelia Liddell, formerly of King’s School, Canterbury received this year. As well as retaking Chemistry and Spanish at RIC Amelia took AS Sociology from scratch in a term and continued to broaden her work experience.

Source by Alistair Brownlow