"During a test, people look up for inspiration, down in desperation, and left and right for information." -Unknown

Are you in secondary school? Do your palms sweat at the thought of an examination? Do the pressure of success and impressive grades loom over your head?

If you answered yes to the previously mentioned, do not fret, there is still time to prepare for your end of year exams! 

The best that pupils can do to prepare for impending examinations is study, ask for help, and know the deadlines. For example, depending on where you live in the UK, the most important exam, the GCSEs, are either held at the end of Year 11 or Year 12.

Also, it is essential to state, and console UK-based students so that they don't think they are the only ones that each country has a different secondary school leaving examination. For example, the Brits have the GCSEs, Americans must undergo the SATs, young French students must experience "the brevet," and Kiwis finish their schooling by taking the NCEA examination.

Nevertheless, since our goal is to help prepare pupils living in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, we will consider essential information about the GCSEs in today's article. 

We know, we know, if you're a student studying for the GCSEs the last thing you want to do is read an article in your free time about the GCSEs; however, we're sure that you'll thank us later!

A Brief History of the GCSEs in the United Kingdom

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Does your head sometimes want to explode from all the studying? If so, you're not alone; the GCSEs are tough! (Source: Unsplash)

Students, who are absolutely 100% irritated of the late-night study sessions preparing for the GCSE examinations, might ask themselves, "Who are the cruel people responsible for this madness?"

I know I did when I was studying for end of year tests! 

Nevertheless, although the GCSEs may seem overwhelming when going through the subjects and exams, they were actually created to make matters easier for teachers, students, and those who grade.

For example, before the introduction of the GCSEs in 1988, students took different types of examinations that had distinct grading systems that were uneven and not very precise. With the previous exams and qualifications, students would be unable to show their true abilities. 

However, the implementation of the GCSEs by the National Education System provided a manner to establish a national qualification for those who wanted to leave secondary school at the age of 16 without pursuing any further education such as the A-Levels or a university degree.

Essentially the GCSEs replaced both the CSE and O-Level qualifications that were commonplace yet confusing at the time. By unifying two requirements into only one, it allowed for complete access to the full range of grades for more students.

After some years of testing and ironing out any relevant issues, the GCSEs went through specific reforms in 1994, 2005, 2010, and 2015; some minor improvements take place almost every year, but they are mostly unnoticeable.

The GCSEs have been mostly praised for the academic subjects included and the ability to grade an individual student on their skills. Nevertheless, like everything in life, there are some cons. Some criticisms of the GCSEs include overall grade disparity and high-stress levels among students whose parents fear that it will lead to mental health issues.

Nevertheless, the GCSEs will remain useful in grading students across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

How are the GCSEs graded in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland?

For example, in England, students that score between a 9-4 overall receive their certificate. In Northern Ireland, pupils who average between an A to a C receive their qualifications. And last but not least, those in Wales must score between an A-C to graduate happily.

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Some of the Most Common GCSE Subjects

To successfully graduate from secondary school with a General Certificate of Secondary Education, students must take specific subjects that will help them ensure their freedom, or should I say success!

All pupils are required to take at least 5 GCSE subjects in Key Stage 4: Grades 10 and 11. The exact topics that are valid for qualification depend on student to student, exam board to the exam board, and school to school.

It is essential to state that English and Maths are required GCSE subjects necessary for graduation. 

The following are some of the core GCSE subjects that students must take in Key Stage 4 in either Year 10 or 11:

  • English (either English language or English literature), 
  • Mathematics, 
  • Science (either Combined Sciences or three of the following: Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Computer Science, 
  • Languages (either Modern or Ancient),
  • Humanities. 

Additional subjects that are not core disciplines yet important in their own way include astronomy, geology, ancient history, sociology, business studies, financing, electronics, drama, and physical education to name a few.

Students may select a few subjects that interest them in their years that are not core disciplines and can help them achieve their General Certification of Secondary Education at age 16. After the GCSEs are finished, students may decide to attend A or AS Levels or NVQ or BTEC qualifications.

Alternative options of study are the International Baccalaureate or the Scottish Highers for those living in the north.

Online Tutors That Help Students to Ace the GCSEs

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By hiring a qualified GCSE tutor that teaches in-person or online classes, success is guaranteed. (Source: Unsplash)

When teaching certain GCSE subjects, public school educators do not have the time to consider every aspect of the information and answer all students questions for lack of time; this can be blamed on the National Education System which is far from perfect.

Therefore, to fill in the necessary holes of essential topics needed to graduate with honours determined students are enlisting the help of private academic tutors to assist them with difficult GCSE disciplines. 

But where can I find qualified GCSE tutors near me? 

Superprof is here to save the day! According to our great website, there are hundreds of qualified private tutors with years of experience teaching specific GCSE subjects to pupils in dire need. Prices for our tutors range from £10-200 per hour depending on the qualifications and expertise. 

There are some GCSE tutors that prefer to teach face-to-face at a time and place most convenient for the pupil. While, on the other hand, some prefer to offer remote classes via video calling software such as Skype, Facetime, or Zoom.

Whatever the case may be, we are 100% certain that you will find the perfect GCSE tutor on our website, and want to know the best part? The first lesson is always free, no matter which tutor is selected!

GCSE Exam and Results Dates for 2020

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After the 2020 results of the GCSEs have been released and you've passed with flying colours, graduation day is just around the corner! (Source: Unsplash)

In Key Stage 4, there is no time to take things too lightly and slack off. Of course, we are not suggesting that sleepless nights from hours of studying is healthy, but a balanced view is necessary. It is essential to realise that doing well in Year 9, 10, and 11 will result in good marks on the final GCSE exam and springboard you to a successful future no matter what you decide to do or study.

Therefore, we recommend becoming familiar with the dates of the final GCSE exam corresponding to your year of graduation and the examination board that your school is under. 

When are the GCSE exam and results dates for 2020? 

Thankfully, the dates for the GCSE exams are scheduled across two years and are planned far in advance to allow anxious pupils enough time to prepare adequately. Depending on the subjects you have taken as part of your GCSEs, the dates for the 2020 exams have already been established and are the following according to each exam board:

  • AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance): for those whose school is under the administration of the AQA, the examination dates for the GCSEs are from Monday the 11 of May to Thursday the 18 of June.
  • OCR (Oxford, Cambridge, and RSA Examinations): students who are part of the OCR exam board will undertake examinations from the 11 of May to the 18 of June.
  • Pearson Edexcel: those who study under the control of the Edexcel board will enjoy a fantastic examination period from the 11 of May to the 17 of June.
  • WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee): for our dear Welsh citizens, the WJEC board have scheduled GCSE tests from the 11 of May to the 17 of June.
  • CCEA (Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment): last but most certainly not least, the CCEA will conduct examinations earlier than the rest of the gang from the 4 of May to the 19 of June.

There you have it, all the essential dates to prepare for the impending GCSE examinations depending on the examination board you are under.

Also, it is of the utmost importance that we mention the day that the results for the GCSEs will be published in 2020: Thursday 20 August 2020. 

Students who didn't do so high on the examinations will have the opportunity to retake the tests in November 2020; a date has yet to be determined.

With the right tutor, information, and preparation, the GCSE examinations don't have to be a headache; you will succeed if you try!

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.