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Article: GCSE Options


This article looks at the GCSE subject choices that you'll need to make during Year 9. It outlines some of the things that you need to think about, in order to make good choices.

Video: - : GCSE Options


Choosing your options can involve some difficult decision making. Your choice of GCSEs will affect your options at 16 and beyond. So it's important that you make your choices carefully.

GCSE courses available

GCSEs are courses that you'll usually study in Years 10 and 11. You will study a number of different subjects.

GCSE short courses might be another option available to you. They could allow you to study a wider range of GCSEs. They take half the time of a full GCSE.

Subjects that you must take

You have to study certain subjects so that you have a balance that will keep your options open in the future.

You must normally study English, Welsh (in Wales), mathematics and science in all schools.

You'll also do physical education, ICT, religious studies, sex education, careers education, work-related learning and citizenship, but you don't usually have to take exams in these subjects. Your school might add other compulsory subjects to this list.

Subjects that you can choose

From the list in 'subjects that you must take', it might seem that there aren't many choices left to make. But you will still have choices; for example, in some schools, there could be a choice of which science course(s) to study.

As well as GCSE science, you might be able to take another GCSE in either:

  • additional science - helps you to gain a deeper understanding of basic scientific ideas
  • additional applied science - shows how science works in real, work-related situations

Or, you might be able to take one or more GCSEs in the separate science subjects of biology, chemistry and physics. These are not available in all schools.

There will also be other subjects that you can choose from. These could be subjects that you already study at the moment, or they could be completely new subjects.

Subjects you know

The advantage of choosing a subject that you already study (for example, History, Geography or French) is that you know how good you are at it and how much you like it. But be careful, some courses could be different from those you have studied so far. Check with your individual subject teachers.

New subjects

You might have the chance to try a subject that's completely new to you, such as business studies, engineering, media studies or sociology. If you're thinking of doing this, you'll need to spend some time finding out about the subject and what the course is like.

Relating your choice to future courses or careers

If you have some idea of which career or course you wish to follow, find out which GCSEs you'll need. If a range of careers or courses interests you, write down which GCSEs you will need for each career or course. Then, make a list of the GCSEs you would need to take in order to keep as many of those career ideas or courses open to you as possible.

If you don't like the subjects in your list, think carefully about whether you would like a career related to those subjects.

Choosing subjects that you enjoy or are good at

Many students don't know for sure which career or course they want to follow after Year 11. So, if you don't have any career ideas at the moment, don't worry.

The best thing you can do is choose subjects that you enjoy or are good at. Once you've done this, consider whether the group of subjects will keep your options open in the future.

People who can help you

There are many people who can help you make your GCSE choices. Teachers can tell you about the courses and how well they think you will do in particular subjects.

Your careers teacher and careers adviser can help you to find careers or course information. In this way, you can find out which courses and careers your choices might lead to, or which subjects you'll need for particular careers. Friends and parents might also be able to give advice.

But be careful about the advice you take - people could have their own reasons for wanting you to choose particular subjects. In the end, they are your choices and you'll have to take responsibility for them.

Taking GCSEs after Year 11

You might not be able to take all the GCSE subjects that you want to, or you might find out later that you need a particular subject for a course or career. However, it might not be too late. It's often possible to begin other subjects in Years 12 and 13/the sixth form or at a further education (FE) college.

Further Information

Careers Wales (Provides careers information, advice and guidance)


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