GCSE option choices come around quite quick each year. And with such a variety of choice, it can seem daunting to think about what subjects to choose, or as importantly which ones to drop! This blog will try and give you some help in making these decisions.
Firstly, some ‘scene setting’. Most students will do 9 subjects. There are certain subjects you can’t avoid doing – so English, Maths and Science are definite ones you will have to do. Most schools will get you to choose your options in year 9, but there are some that start their GCSE teaching in year 9, so you will choose your options in year 8. There will be plenty of information given to you, to help you decide. This will include information about what each GCSE covers and a chance (at least one!) to talk to the subject teachers about their subject. As you’d expect, they will all be keen to promote and ‘talk up’ their subject!
You may get the chance to do triple science, this will mean you get a separate GCSE in Chemistry, Biology and Physics. Most students will do double science, which is worth 2 GCSE’s but covers all 3 subjects. If you attend a school that is faith based, you may have to do RE too. All students have to do PE during year 10 and 11, although you can choose whether to do this as GCSE or just as some sport sessions.
Your school is likely to give you the following options,
A language – the most common languages taught are ones like French, Spanish and German. Covid permitting, this might include visiting a country that speaks the language during your studies. If you speak a language at home that isn’t taught in your school, it is possible to sit this as an additional GCSE. We’ve come across students who have done Polish, Mandarin, Russian and Portuguese as some examples! If this interests you, talk to the languages staff.
A humanities subject, so for instance Sociology, History or Geography. The choice here will depend on what the teaching staff can cover, so Sociology is offered at fewer schools. And you might find that doing Geography may involve the odd field trip to explore some physical Geography issues like coastal erosion.
A design subject – this could be Art and Design, Photography, Design and Technology or Food Tech. If you are interested in a design career, you need to make sure you choose well here, to give yourself the design ‘foundation’ to build further design qualifications on later.
Each school will have its own options columns that you will choose between, and slightly different timescales. It’s likely that you will be asked for a fall back option, in case the school can’t give everyone their first choice. You will be asked for your choices in the spring term, so that the school can have time to plan the groups and ensure they have the right staff in place. If your year group is quite small, say 100-150 this will be a lot easier to plan than if your year group is 300!
So, here are some ‘speedy’ top tips…
Talk to your teachers, ask them lots of questions about their subject, do their responses inspire you or send you to sleep?
Do some careers research, where could these subjects take you? https://www.myfuturechoice.com/myfirstchoices/ would be a great starting point!
If you are already thinking about university, https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree is worth a look at too.
Don’t panic! It does seem like a huge decision, but as long as you are choosing subjects you enjoy and will do well in, this is the most important thing to do.
Don’t just choose a subject based on your current teacher, you may not have them for GCSE.
Don’t just choose a subject based on what your friends are choosing – you may end up in different sets.
GCSE’s will be more challenging than what you are doing now, so make sure you choose subjects that you will find interesting!
If you are getting any extra learning support in school, ask how this will help you during year 10 and 11.
Year 10 and 11 aren’t just about studying these subjects, do think through what else you will want to fit in – for instance Duke of Edinburgh awards, sport, playing musical instruments amongst other things.
And lastly, if there are any employers or universities coming into school, do ask them for their opinions too.
We hope that this blog has been useful. You will get lots of information and support in school with choosing. Good luck with making your decisions!
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