Are you finding yourself asking: ‘What to do if I get a 4?’
GCSE exams are tough, and unfortunately an expected or wished for result can’t always be guaranteed. Any number of things could leave a student in a position where they are unable to perform to their full potential, from inconsistent teaching, to lack of revision, to mental health issues. Very occasionally, an exam paper may even have not been marked correctly, leading to an unexpectedly disappointing result.
However, it is important not to panic if you find yourself in a situation where you are asking yourself what to do if I get a 4? Receiving a grade 4 in your English Language or Literature GCSE is not the end of the world. It is key to remember that a disappointing exam result does not reflect negatively on you as a person, but also that you have plenty of options going forward if you decide that you want to try to convert your 4 into a 5, 6, 7, 8, or even a 9!
If you are asking ‘What to do if I get a 4?’, you are probably looking for some assurance and practical advice. This article will guide you through the key questions you should ask yourself if you have received a grade 4 in your English Language or English Literature GCSE, as well as the steps you can take to remedy the situation if you believe that is the right next step for you.
Before we get into answering the big question of ‘What to do if I get a 4?’, let’s first address the all-important underlying question: What exactly is a 4?
A GCSE grade 4, which is roughly equivalent to the old-school grade C, is known as a ‘standard pass’. Therefore, even if you are not happy with the result, it is important to remember that getting a 4 still means that you have passed your GCSE English Literature or Language exam. Achieving a grade 4 essentially means that you have displayed a basic solid knowledge of the subject – it is nothing to be ashamed of! In English (and maths) getting a grade 4 allows you to move onto future studies and employment.
Although a grade 4 is a pass, it is also sensible to think about how this grade might affect your goals for the future. The result that you get in your English Literature or Language GCSE may feel more or less important depending on what you are planning to study at A Level. For example, if you are hoping to continue with a number of humanities subjects in sixth form, it would definitely be a good idea to think quite seriously about the possible implications of a grade 4 in both English Language and English Literature. Conversely, if you are planning on studying sciences and maths at A Level, your GCSE English results might not feel that crucial to your academic development.
At this point, however, it is also important to consider your plans beyond school: whether you want to go to university or not, and if you do, whether you know what you want to study and where. As mentioned above, a GCSE grade 4 in English Literature or English Language is a pass, allowing you to move on with your studies. However, if you want to attend a top university, it is necessary to think about the ways in which this GCSE mark may hold you back. This is especially important if you are thinking about applying for a humanities subject or hoping to go to a Russell Group university. While the majority of these top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, do not have specific GCSE requirements, it is important to note that they often take GCSE grades into account as indicators of work ethic.
Another key thing to consider is that while the subjects English Language and English Literature sound similar and are often taught together, English Language is generally far more important for your future academic development, unless you are hoping to do a humanities or language-based degree at university. Therefore, ‘What to do if I get a 4 in English Language?’ and ‘What to do if I get a 4 in English Literature?’ can actually be very different questions, with very different answers. For example, if you are hoping to apply to study Medicine at Imperial College London, a GCSE grade 6 in English Language is a requirement.
Finally, making a decision about your future can be very hard if you don’t know what you want to do! If this is the case for you, it may be a good idea to consider doing something to transform your 4 into a higher grade, so that you can keep your options open.
If you have decided that you are not happy with a grade 4, not to worry! There are two main options open to you, depending on whether you would like to aim for a 5 or for a 6-9.
The first option is to get a re-mark, by requesting a ‘review of marking and moderation’. This is a good avenue to pursue if you would be happy with a 5 and are close to the upper grade boundary. This can often nudge you up to receive a grade 5, but it is not guaranteed. Getting a re-mark is also worth considering if you feel that your mark is just plain wrong – this is rare, but it can happen. If this is something that you feel might be right for you, it is definitely worth discussing it with your teacher, as they will be ideally suited to helping you decide. They can also help you to request a copy of your marked script, which can make the decision about re-marking – or about re-sitting – far easier.
The second option is to re-sit your exam, which you can do in the winter after you get your result, or the following summer. It is worth also discussing this option with your teacher, especially if you feel like you could achieve a better result in better circumstances. Re-sitting is a great idea if you want to turn your grade 4 into a grade 6, 7, 8, or 9, and it is worth considering ways to supplement your learning to help you make this happen. It may be a good idea to get a tutor to help you with exam technique, or to buy a revision and practice book to help you work towards your new exam. Or perhaps you need to re-read your set texts to make sure you know them inside out.
Getting a grade 4 in your English Literature or English Language GCSE can feel very disheartening if you didn’t expect it, but it is important to remember that you do have options if you decide that you want to improve your result.