Choose Your Free Guide to Tutoring


International Award Winning Private Tuition Provider

Customer Services & Support: 0800 772 0974

google logo
66 Parent Reviews
google logo
66 Parent Reviews
Request a Tutor Become a Tutor Sign in
Request a Tutor Sign in
google logo
66 Parent Reviews

GCSE Results Day: How to Prepare Your Child

13/06/2023 / Private Tutoring

GCSE results day is an important day in the calendar for all secondary school students. It’s the culmination of two years of effort, which can provide relief and rewards, along with frustration or upset. With this in mind, it’s important that teens are prepared for what happens on the day – and are ready to cope with every outcome.

In this guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know about GCSE results day, including what to expect, what to do after the results are opened, and how to prepare your child in the short- and long-term.

GCSE results day: the basics

Results day is the day when GCSE students can collect the results of their exams. It holds more significance since the government removed the modular approach from most GCSE subjects. This means that coursework and other assessments have been largely removed, so students are graded entirely on the final exams.

GCSE results day typically falls on the fourth Thursday in August and is the same for students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Schools generally receive results a day earlier, which are for exam officers only.

Most schools open from 8am, allowing students to collect their results. However, opening times may vary and some students may be allowed to open results earlier for media purposes.

What to expect

To remove the mystery a little, let’s discuss what you can expect from GCSE results day.


While schools generally open around 8am, you don’t have to go in straight away. Schools will usually stay open for several hours. Some may also stagger arrival times to avoid a rush at opening time. It’s best to check this to avoid any delays on the day.

Who can go with you

Students can open their results with whoever they like. Some like to take their parents or other family members. Others may want to open their results with friends or classmates. Or maybe your child would prefer to open their results independently. It’s important to check what they want and provide the support or space needed to make them feel comfortable.

How results are delivered

Some students may feel anxious about the idea of results being on show or even announced. For full clarity, they are provided in a sealed envelope, so it’s up to you who knows about them. Within the envelope, you’ll get a slip of paper with the exam dates, GCSE subject and grade listed clearly.

What if you can’t pick them up?

It’s best to avoid making plans in August to ensure children can pick up their results from school on the day. Doing so means they have the support of a teacher, if needed. However, this isn’t always possible if you’ve booked holidays in advance or something else pops up.

If you can’t get to school to pick up GCSE results, the school may be able to send results by email on the day or via post (although that would delay things a little). Alternatively, a friend or relative can collect the results for you. Again, this would need to be arranged with the school. A signed letter and ID would also need to be provided to prove who the person is.

Understanding results as a parent

As a parent, it’s important that you understand your child’s GCSE results, so you can provide the support and guidance they need. Of course, with the grading scheme changing in recent years, you might not be completely familiar with how things work. So, here’s a whistlestop tour of the new system…

From 2017 onwards, GCSEs have been graded from 9-1. This replaced the old A* to G scale that was in place from 1994 (and A to G before that from 1987).

What is the top grade?

9 is now the best possible grade for students to achieve in all GCSE subjects. A common misconception is that the grade is an exact replacement of A. However, grade 9 is actually achieved by a much lower proportion of students. As explained in our guide to getting a 9 in GCSE maths, around 4% of students achieve a grade 9, compared to 16% for A.

What is a pass?

When introducing the new GCSE grading system, the government described a grade 4 as a standard pass, while grade 5 is a strong pass. Crucially, grade 4 is what students need to avoid a resit. As such, it’s also the grade required for entry at many colleges, and it’s commonly listed as a requirement for many jobs too.

Preparing your child on the day

Preparation is key if you want results day to go as smoothly as possible. While you can’t affect the results your child receives (more on this later), you can make sure they’re as calm and comfortable as possible about picking up those important grades.

Getting ready for results day

Like any day, it’s best to get a good breakfast so an empty stomach doesn’t add to any anxiety students are feeling. Next, there are a few essentials students should have with them on the day:

  • Fully charged phone – Phoning friends and family is a must, whether it’s to tell them good news or get support.
  • Tissues – These will come in handy, as receiving exam results can be an emotional experience.
  • Bottle of water – Drinking water is a good way to calm nerves and keep students relaxed.

Planning to open results

Make sure you check how and when your child wants to open their results. It’s easy for them to bow down to peer pressure and go in with their friends. However, this can make it harder to cope with bad results or create an embarrassing situation.

Give them the option of going in later in the day, let them know that you can accompany them (if possible), and explain that they don’t have to open results in front of people if they’re not comfortable doing so.

Knowing what they need

While it may seem obvious, students and their parents should be clear on what’s required for GCSE results day. Exam results are all relative – while everyone might want the top grades, not all students need them.

Knowing what’s actually required for their future will help you support your child and put things into context. This should be available in a letter or email from their chosen college, education provider or employer.

What to do next

Onto the most critical part of the day. If your child gets the results they need (or better), that’s great news. They can relax or celebrate for the rest of the day.

However, it’s inevitable that some students will be disappointed on results day. Here are some steps you can tell your child about if their grades aren’t as expected:

Contact college

If you’ve received grades that are lower than those required for your college or course of choice, it’s worth contacting the college. Depending on overall grades and other factors, they may still be happy to accept you onto your chosen course(s). Alternatively, they could recommend a different course or resit options, as below.

Change courses

Even if colleges can’t accept lower grades for a specific course, they may be able to recommend similar courses for which your current grades are accepted. You don’t need to rush into a decision – this is typically something to discuss with parents and teachers.

Change college

If your preferred college can’t compromise on grades, it’s worth contacting other colleges or education providers to see if you can secure a place with the grades you have.

Appeal a grade

Another option is to appeal a grade. This might be possible if you are close to a grade boundary or one of your grades is an anomaly (particularly lower than the rest).

If this is the case, you should speak to a teacher or head of department as soon as you can. They may be able to request a review of your exam paper, which could result in a regrade.

Retaking exams

If all else fails, don’t forget that exams can be retaken. For English and Maths, resits take place in November of the same year – just three months after results day. For other subjects, exams are in May and June the following year. As above, this is worth discussing with your chosen college, as some will allow students to resit exams while studying for their A Levels, BTEC or other courses.

Preparing your child in advance

Preparing your child for GCSE results day can take some of the anxiety away from the occasion. But there’s only so much you can do when the course is complete and exams have already been taken.

The best preparation for GCSE results day takes place before the exams, throughout the two years while they’re studying. Focusing in class, completing homework on time and undertaking ongoing revision are essential for your child to achieve the grades they want and need.

Hiring a tutor is another great way to bolster these efforts and help students reach their full potential. At Principal Tutors, we have a network of qualified teachers on hand to provide online GCSE tuition. Unlike many other tutors, they have real-life classroom experience and know the GCSE curriculum inside-out.

All students are matched with a tutor based on their requirements and preferences – whether that’s a specific subject or a target grade you want to achieve. Request a tutor today to get started or call us on 0800 772 0974 for more information.


We are so happy with our 11+ tutor, she is always very professional and approachable, and she is helping my son to gain in confidence for his grammar school entrance exams next term.


Very happy with the Tutor who is working with my daughter for the 11+. He always replies to emails promptly, engages my daughter during the online lesson, and she's enjoying the work. Thank you.


We were recommended a tutor for our needs very quickly and were able to start immediately. My daughter is getting tutoring for her 11+ exam and according to her, the tutor is amazing. There is a long way until the exam but she managed to bust my daughter's confidence in Maths. Thank you!


Thank you for recommending such an amazing physics tutor for my son. We are now confident he will achieve the graded he needs to get into the uni of his choice, which is all down to the support we received from Principal Tutors and our wonderful tutor.