How to retake your exams – GCE O Level and A Level 


In this article, Tutopiya will help our troubled students and parents how to prepare for your exam to retake their examinations,  whether it is for GCE-O Level or A-Level. 

GCE O Level 

The GCE O Level is a national examination taken by students who are graduating from their secondary education. It is also taken by students who are in the Express Stream – Secondary 4 and Secondary 5 students. 

Normal Academic and Technical students are also allowed to sit for GCE O Level subjects if they have been granted to do so by their schools. 


Read also: Singapore School System: The Stages of Education


After the GCE O Levels, students progress to either ITE, Polytechnic, or Junior College in Singapore. The ITE and Polytechnic institutions are course-based education whereas Junior College is where students sit for their GCE A-Levels and are comparable to the Cambridge A-Levels. 

GCE A Level 

The GCE A Level is taken by students in their second year of Junior College, or the third year in Millenia Institute at around the age of 19-20. The GCE A Level allows students to admit into local universities and colleges, as well as other private institutions. 

Read also: GCE A-Level Singapore – H1, H2, and H3 Explained


The GCE A Level is also comparable to the Cambridge A-Level examinations. 

Criteria for resitting examinations 

You can choose to retake your examinations as a student in your school again (if you meet the criteria) or as a private candidate. 

Do you need to retake your examinations? 

The majority of the students would choose to retake certain subjects in their GCE O Level. This is due to several reasons: 

  • The polytechnic course you would like to enroll in requires you to have a certain grade for a specific subject. 
  • For better overall results 

Certain polytechnic courses require a minimum B4 for English. (especially applicable to students who are looking to enroll in mass comm). Hence, students who do not meet the requirement may consider retaking their English to enter the course. 

In the case of GCE A-Levels, certain university courses also require students to have obtained a specific grade for the subject. Hence, many may consider retaking subjects or resit their A-Levels. 

Does retaking your examination mean you have to retake all the subjects? 

No, you are allowed to choose to retake certain subjects as a private candidate where you register and study for the exam on your own. 

Alternatively, if you meet the criteria to resit for all or majority of your subjects, you may repeat your studies in your respective secondary or junior colleges. 

Factors to consider when you decide an exam retake 

As suggested by the Ministry of Education, here are some of the following factors that you will need to consider if you are thinking about retaking your GCE O or A-Level.

  • What will I do differently to achieve a better outcome?
  • Can I cope with the academic rigor?
  • Can I fund my studies if I want to enroll in a Private Educational Institution?
  • Have I considered the 3Rs?
    • Reasons – Why am I retaking my national examinations?
    • Readiness – How ready am I to retake my national examinations?
    • Risks – What are the possible drawbacks involved in retaking my national examination as a private candidate?


Tips for resitting examinations (Exam retake) in Singapore

Firstly, do not place too much pressure on yourself. In this fast-paced country, where education is always placed on the highest emphasis for students. Be reminded that it is okay to be retaking your examinations and you do not have to be hard on yourself. 


Here are 3 tips Tutopiya hopes to give students give them an idea of how you can go about retaking your examinations. 


1 – Setting a goal (big and small) 

Whether you are retaking one subject or multiple, you should always have an end goal in mind. Now that you have a taste of how the national examinations play out, work on a strategy to make sure you have got it this time. 


This goal could be your end result or even a progress goal. Small goals always go a long way.  Especially when retaking your national examinations, you have another year to finish revising your subject(s). Hence it is wise to plan out your year and make small achievable goals as you go along. 


2 – Stay consistent and work hard for it 

Private candidates may have more trouble staying focused and consistent since there is no physical school to attend. They will have more freedom when it comes to their time management. Therefore, private candidates will have to put in extra effort and stay consistent throughout. Additionally, for students who are retaking their exams in schools, it is important to still work hard. 

3 – Get extra help for exam retake 

Perhaps the reason why you did not attain your desired grade, was because of knowledge gaps and wrong study methods. Hence, it is always wise to seek help when you are considering retaking your examinations. An experienced tutor or teacher will give you greater insights into your learning style and habits. They can also help to close up any potential knowledge gaps you may have in a particular subject. 


Having extra help also gives you extra support and helps boost your confidence as you go along! Tutopiya has a pool of experienced ex-MOE teachers and full-time tutors who are readily available to offer quality online tuition to our students. 


In a nutshell, retaking your examinations is not as terrifying as it seems and it is common for students to retake certain subjects. Students should keep in mind their end goal and keep working towards it! 


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