If you’re in Year 9 then you will finally get a bit of choice in your life!  Yes, it is time for you to pick some different subjects and begin to phase out some of the things you don’t intend to carry on with in the future.

There are a few subjects that you have to carry on with and then a very long list of things that you can choose between.  Sometimes, it will depend on the school’s subject policy too, so you might find yourself doing a few things you didn’t expect to be doing.


So how does it work?

When you select your GCSE ‘s and what you want to do, you’ll often get a form with some options on it.  For me, we were given a list of the subjects we had to do and then there were five boxes – all we had to do was pick one from each.

Generally, you will probably do around 10 subjects in total.  Don’t worry too much about how they will fit in to a timetable, your teachers will do that for you.

What do I have to do?

Unfortunately, there are a few things that you have to carry on with during your GCSEs, even if you don’t like them at all!

The following subjects are ones that you have to do:

  • Mathematics
  • At least one English subject – I will explain what that means later!
  • If you live in Wales, you will generally have to study Welsh.  If you’re from Ireland and an Irish Medium School, you’ll need to do Irish.
  • Science – there are a lot of different routes through Science, some will be available to you – it will all depend on your school.
  • At least a ‘short course’ in Religious Studies.

Some schools may have different other options that you have to take too.  For example:

  • If you are very good at maths, they may want you to take an extra subject that is related to maths, such as Statistics.
  • When it comes to English, schools may be happy for you to just study English.  However, some other schools may require you to also study either English Media or English Literature GCSE too.
  • If you go to a particularly religious school, you might have to study for the full GCSE in Religious Studies.

For Science, there is something important to consider and think about.  Normally, the school will have different levels of science.  For example, the standard GCSE is the Single Award Science GCSE in many schools and if you complete it you get one GCSE.  However, they may have the option to study for the Double Award GCSE, which is equivalent to two GCSEs.

Some schools may make you do the Double Award and give you the option of the Triple Award GCSE (3 GCSEs.)  This is becoming more and more popular across the country and your school might jump on it!

So what next?

Suddenly, it doesn’t feel like you’re choosing much, does it?  Unfortunately, this is currently the law for schools up and down the country, so don’t feel too bad – you’re in the same position as everyone else!

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, since you will now probably get a few options to pick from, depending on what your school does.  Take a good look at what the school can offer you.

My first piece of advice is to talk to older brothers or sisters (if you’ve got any) and your parents.  If you have any trouble understanding what the different things mean and what some of the courses involve, they’ll be able to give you more help.

Next, I must say this: Never go and start asking your teachers about the the subjects!

Why though?

Let me explain something rather important to you:  unless you’re the worst pupil they’ve ever taught in their careers, teachers will really want you to choose their subject at GCSE.  It’s a weird thing – every teacher will be nice to you and tell you that they think you could do well at their subject, or that with some hard work you could get a good grade.  My advice is not to listen to them as much as your family and, most importantly, as much as what you think is right.

Why do teachers try and convince you?  Well, there are a number of reasons. It may be because they think you’re a nice person to have in the classroom – but that doesn’t mean it’s the right subject for you.

Also, a large class of students indicates a popular teacher, meaning that somewhere along the line they can point to busy classes and help themselves possibly to a promotion or different role in the school.

So how should I pick my subjects?

First of all, you should pick things that you like doing – there is no point picking subjects that you don’t enjoy unless there’s a fantastic reason why you should.  Don’t think ‘well, I don’t like that subject because I don’t like that teacher’ – the chances are you won’t have that teacher at GCSE.  Similarly, don’t pick a subject because of a teacher – the chances of you getting that person are small.

Think about what was interesting, even when it seemed difficult to you… but at the same time think ‘well, was it the teacher who made it interesting or was I actually engaged in it.’

Be honest with yourself about it.

I don’t want to make you panic, but you’ll also have to think about what you’re doing when you’re finished with your GCSEs.  If you’ve got any ambitions about what you want to do, take a look on-line at those ideas and see what they might want you to do. For example, if you want to do Science at A Level then typically you’ll need to have done a Double Award science.

The best thing I can suggest is you go out and pick some well-rounded subjects that reflect your interests and your first ideas of what you want to do later in life.  Keep your doors open as much as you can though!





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