Choosing GCSE Subjects
Secondary education takes a step up as students enter year 10 and 11. With GCSE exams marking the end of their secondary education, students must choose their GCSE subjects towards the end of Year 9. For many, this can be a difficult set of decisions to make. Some favourite subjects may be dropped whilst there are some new ones to choose from. The subject choices a student makes may well impact upon their future life and career so the decisions are not to be taken lightly. There are a few key questions to bear in mind when deliberating about the final selection.
What is Compulsory?First of all, it is important to know that there are certain compulsory subjects which all students must take exams in. These are English, maths and science. Most students will take these to GCSE, although it is possible to study them at entry level. There are a number of other subjects that must be studied, which may or may not lead to exams. These are careers education, citizenship, ICT, PE, religious studies, sex and relationships and work-related learning.
What Are My Options?The optional subjects on offer will vary between individual schools depending upon the availability of teaching staff and pupil numbers. However, there are four ‘entitlement areas’ and your school is obliged to provide you with at least one option from each of the four areas. The areas are arts (including subjects like drama, art and music), design and technology, humanities (history and geography) and modern languages. Other subjects such as business studies, leisure and tourism and health and social care may also be available to study at GCSE level.
What Are My Strengths and Interests?Year 9 is still relatively early on but many students benefit from thinking about what they might want to do after secondary school. Is there a job you are keen to do? Does it require you to have studied certain subjects? Would some subjects be more useful than others for that career? Do you want to enter further education? What subjects might you like to study in the future? Aside from looking to the future, students may also find it useful to think about their strengths and interests. If you have a real flair for art, would you like to take it further? If you are a great essay writer, is it worth considering the humanities? Are you good at making things? Would you like to live in another country one day? Asking questions like these may help students to reach their decisions.
Go For VarietyWhilst it is important for students to pinpoint what they enjoy and are good at, it is also wise to pick a varied selection of subjects. Strengths and interests may change over time and a diverse range of subjects will help to keep students alert and motivated. It might be worth balancing a modern language with PE, for example. Studying food technology alongside geography might keep up inspiration and interest.
Choosing GCSE subjects can be difficult but it need not be stressful. Students who are experiencing worry or confusion should arrange to discuss the matter with a school teacher or tutor. Many schools even employ a guidance counsellor who can help with such matters. Years 10 and 11 provide students with the chance to explore new things and enhance their skills. As such, the picking of GCSE subjects is best viewed as an exciting opportunity.