In the United Kingdom, GCSEs are the main qualification that children between the ages of 14 to 16 years take up. If you want to know more about GCSE as a prospective student or as a parent, details are explored below.
GCSE or General Certificate of Secondary Education is a qualification that is highly valued by schools, colleges and employers. Your academic future is determined by this course and you can study it full-time at school or college, taking five terms to complete. Now, depending on your grade, you can do GCSEs at levels 1 and 2 on the National Qualifications Framework. The framework is a way of determining how various qualifications match up based on the demands they place on learners.
There are many types of GCSEs as they are available in more than 40 academic and nine 'applied' subjects. When we say applied subjects, we mean subjects related to a broad area of any profession. So it can be engineering or tourism that you can take up as applied subjects depending on what sort of career you want. There are many short course GCSEs available as they are taken in half the duration of a full GCSE course. Students usually team up a short term GCSE with extra subjects like a second foreign language.
When it comes to choosing GCSE subjects, you can take guidance from your school or college about the subjects available to you. Do a little research to find out the courses and qualifications available in your area. However, you must know that while pursuing GCSE, it's compulsory to study some subjects as part of the National Curriculum.
Once you are clear on the subjects you want to take, you start with regular classes following the course of your curriculum. Then comes the time of assessment, where you will be assessed mainly on written exams. In the case of certain applied subjects like art and design, you will be assessed on your coursework more.
Usually GCSEs involve exams at the end of course. Now, there is a single level exam for some subjects; but in the case of some subjects you have exams of two levels. These levels are: 'higher' or 'foundation' level exams. Usually your teacher will decide what tier of exams suits you more, but you will get a different range of grades for each tier. Exams are normally held in the months of January and May/June.
You will be graded A*-G and U (unclassified). The grades A*-D are obtained after higher tier exams, whereas with foundation tier exams, you get grades C-G. Once you have cleared your exams, there is a plethora of opportunities waiting for you. You can either work, or study further or sign up for an apprenticeship.
Students choosing to further their education have the option of moving on to other courses at levels 1 or 2 after completing GCSEs at level 1. After completing GCSEs at level 2, you can take up other level 2 courses and level 3 courses of all types. For taking up an A level course in a certain subject, you need to have a GCSE in the same subject.
If higher education and universities are your goal, then you need to take up GCSE courses in certain subjects and should have five GCSEs grades A*-C, including English and Math.
The writer of this article recommends Chelsea Independent College, one of the leading sixth form colleges in London. The college offers GCSE and A levels and also train students for a GCSE retake.