Losing important documents can be a nightmare. The stress that comes with digging through drawers and turning the house upside down only to come up short can be overwhelming.

Especially if those documents are your GCSE certificates. A lost GCSE certificate can make you think all of the hard work you put into getting it has gone to waste, and all of the studying has been for nothing.

Unless of course, there are ways to request new certificates, or validate that you have the marks on the exams you claim to. Which there are, and I’m going to walk you through them in this article.

We are going to explore all of the reasons why losing your GCSE certificates doesn’t have to be the end of the world, and what you can do to save face in the eyes of your prospective universities. Mind you, it’s also possible to get into university with no GCSEs too.

Why do you need a certificate?

A GCSE certificate is proof that the recipient has successfully completed the qualification.

On the certificate, which will be issued by the relevant exam board, there will be a list of the exams the student has taken at GCSE level and their corresponding marks.

The GCSE certificate, as well as giving the recipient a visual reminder of their marks and a way of keeping record, serves a useful purpose. This purpose is to prove to potential employers, and universities, that you have the GCSE grades that you claim to.

Without such proof, you will have a much harder time convincing them that you have passed your GCSEs, which is likely to cause you problems with applications.

You don’t want to run the risk of not getting into your preferred university, or any university for that matter, solely because you lost your GCSE certificate.

University entry requirements usually dictate that you have your original certificate to show as proof of your GCSE results, since GCSEs are important to them, and also because this is the only way for them to know how likely you are to do in further education, it’s a big deal!

While there are other ways of proving that you have the GCSE results that you do, it’s definitely worth keeping your original certificate/s somewhere safe so you have less chance of losing them.

That said, if you have lost your GCSE certificate, there are ways around this.

Find the results online

Writing next to a laptop.
Finding your results online is one potential solution.

Depending on your school and the exam board responsible for the GCSE exams you took, there is a chance that you could find your GCSE results online.

While the traditional method of receiving GCSE results is by going to the school in-person to get your certificate, it’s becoming more common for schools to release the results in their online portal platform.

Try to restrain the excitement at the possibility of being able to access your results from the comfort of your home for a moment though.

You will have to get in touch with your school to see if this is even an option, and it’s worth not getting your hopes up too much.

Even if the option was available once the results were first made available though, there is no guarantee that they will still be accessible if a lot of time has passed since they were first published.

An option you should definitely look into, since it would prove highly convenient, but one which is not in any way guaranteed. Whatever the case, reach out to your school to see if you can get your GCSE results this way.

Request a statement of results

The second option is the most obvious one, and the one which is most likely to work: request a ´certified statement of results´ certificate.

If you’ve lost your original GCSE certificate, then your best bet is to request a ´certified statement of results´ certificate from the relevant exam board.

As you can imagine, this is a document that can be used in place of an original certificate as proof of your GCSE marks. That way, you’ll be able to proceed as you would have done with your university application without worrying about not having proof of your marks.

To go about requesting this certificate, you’ll need to send an email to the exam board - or more than one if you took exams with various exam board - asking for this ´certified statement of results´ certificate.

Make sure you have some personal information with you and a credit card on hand, as this request will likely come at a small financial cost to you.

If for some reason you are unlucky enough to want a certificate from an exam board that no longer exists, check on this government page which current exam board you should contact.

This process will take anywhere from a week, to a month. For that reason it’s vital that you request it as soon as you realise that you no longer have the original certificate, as if not it could prove detrimental to your university applications.

Damaged or defaced original GCSE certificate?

If you are in the unusual position of having an original certificate that has been damaged or defaced to the point that it is illegible, then there’s another option for you.

Provided you can return the original certificate in its damaged state, you will be given a copy to use in its place.

This only applies to exams that were taken in or after the year 2001 though, which I would hazard a guess, applies to most people reading this article!

Hope for a confirmation letter

Man writing on paper.
Getting a university to ask for a confirmation letter could be your best bet.

This third option is a last resort of sorts for those who lost their GCSE certificate, and is meant for the occasions in which you are short on time but you need to show proof of your GCSE grades to a university for example.

It’s possible to get a confirmation or verification letter from the relevant exam board in times of need.

This can be a great lifeline if you need quick proof of your GCSEs to show to a university or employer, and you don't have time to wait for a ´certified statement of results´ certificate.

The major downside to this option is that you need to be in great standing with the university or employer, since the onus will be on them to get the ball rolling and request the verification.

Yes, that’s right, if you find yourself in the awkward situation in which you need to prove your GCSE results quickly, you’re going to have to hope the university see you as a promising candidate, otherwise their incentive to verify your results may be low.

This process will cost the institution a flat fee, require some important paperwork on your part, and a lot of good will on the part of the university helping you out!

Should you apply to uni without GCSEs?

Hands typing on a laptop.
Applying to University without GCSEs - is it worth it?

Most universities state in their entry requirements that you need to pass at least your Maths and English GCSE exams. They also look at your UCAS points tally which is unrelated to GCSE exam results.

However, say you lose your GCSE certificate and are in a desperate situation, or you have no GCSEs but want to go to university, there is still a chance you can get accepted.

While going to university without gcses isn’t exactly recommended, due to the stock they put into them for determining future academic success, it is possible.

University entry requirements are generally non-negotiable, but should you put a lot of effort into extracurricular activities related to the course you want to study, or develop an impressive array of skills, then you can give yourself a fighting chance.

If anything, this knowledge should serve to reassure you that even if you do lose your GCSE certificate, and for whatever reason aren’t able to recover the results in time, there is still a chance of getting a place at university.

Can you get into college with no GCSEs?

Just like you can get into university with no GCSEs, you can also get into college without them.

College is an alternative option to university which tends to offer more vocational courses, more flexibility, and lower tuition fees.

That can make it an attractive option if you’re weighing up your next move, and are looking for something that will likely fast track your progress towards the world of work.

Colleges typically request the same of applicants as universities, except they may be a bit more lenient when it comes to missed grades or a lack of GCSEs. This can work in your favour if you have no GCSEs to your name, or if you were unfortunate enough to lose your GCSE certificate.

While it’s very likely that you will be able to gain access to your GCSE results using one of the methods we explored earlier, in case you don’t, it’s good to have a few backup options.

It’s surprising what you can do with no GCSEs, since society places so much emphasis on them as formative exams. However, you will have to work hard to stand out from your peers if this is the case, so it’s best to do well the first time of asking.

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Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.