Emily tells us about her experiences of retaking a year at school

Thursday, June 4, 2015 12:00 AM

Hello, I’m Emily, a proud guest blogger on bestCourse4me.com, and I’m excited to tell you about my experience when I had to stand back and retake a year at school. I am sure many people will, for whatever reason, have to do the same, so I hope to share the lessons I have learned, now that I’m striding through the other side of the process. Redoing a GCSE or A Level year or subject shouldn’t be daunting, and it can be a challenging but rewarding adventure.


Just over three years ago my world stood still as I suddenly fell ill to a number of chronic illnesses that would forever change my life. Nonetheless it was the best thing that could have happened to my education! In the summer between year 10 and 11, my health plummeted and I was left unable to move from my bed, let alone attend school. This led to my stepping out of my year group and retaking a year, something that many students go through, but which I found was a rather unspoken subject. So, I leapt in with both eyes shut!


For many years my heart had been set on studying Spanish at University, following an intense linguistic course of Spanish, French, Latin, and English Literature at sixth form. The extra year I had to take out of education led me to completely change my options, so that I ended up taking Spanish, English Language, English Literature, Politics and Psychology. I now want to study English at University; so, without that extra year, I would now have spent two years studying the wrong subjects, heading off to study the wrong university course!


I will not lie and say that it was all easy, as seeing your friends live the life you were also meant to be living can be difficult. However, looking more broadly at things, this one year is simply twelve months of improvement that hardly dents the process of life, and has so many advantages, such as:

• making new friends

• broadening your knowledge

• helping you to become a better person


Repeating the year, for me, meant changing my exam board, and converting to IGCSEs. I embraced this and learned to enjoy the new challenge.


One problem can be getting back into the learning mode after perhaps a long time off. In order to stay in the right mindset to learn it is vital to keep your brain active. I did this through:

• reading, both fiction and non-fiction books

• watching TV programmes about my subject and keeping up to date with the news

• writing short pieces, in order not to lose this essential exam skill

• visiting interesting places that may relate to studious interests


Having a plan for the entire process, keeping in touch with old and new friends, and speaking to teachers, online communities, parents, siblings, and other people you feel you can trust to discuss any concerns is vital. A wide selection of opinions is more helpful in solving your issues.


Retaking could be disheartening and discouraging, but there are so many exciting new adventures to experience through redoing a year. Rather than letting it hold me back, I let it empower me, and I felt that proving I could do it, despite the boundaries that stood in my way, has given me an enormous amount to be proud of.

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