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General Certificate of Secondary Education facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a set of exams taken in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and other British territories. They are usually taken by students aged 15–16, after two years of study. Some students can take their exams early if their teachers think the students are capable. Most students taking their GCSEs study between 5 and 12 subjects.

All pupils have to study English, mathematics and science until they are 15-16. They do not have to take the GCSE exams, but the large majority do so. In Wales, students must also study Welsh until they are 14.

Most schools require that a pupil passes 5 or more GCSE exams at grades 4 or 5 or above before they can move on to study A-levels.

In 2020, the exams were cancelled for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Subjects

Many of the subjects in this list are not offered by every school.

Required

In all schools students have to study Mathematics, Science, and English linguistics and literature.

Creativity

Languages

Technology

  • Electronics
  • Engineering and Manufacturing (Double Award)
  • Graphic products
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
    • Applied ICT (Double Award)
  • Product Design
    • Electronics with Resistant Materials
    • Resistant Materials
    • Systems and Control Technology
    • Textiles
    • IT

Humanities

People and society-related

Natural sciences

Others

  • Further Mathematics (Further Pure Mathematics for Edexcel IGCSE)
  • Applied Business (Double Award)
  • Archaeology (may not currently be available as a separate GCSE [1])
  • Business Studies
  • Business and Communication Systems
  • General Studies
  • Outdoor Pursuits - Birdwatching - Fishing
  • Physical Education (PE)
  • Sports Studies
  • Statistics
  • Media Studies

A-levels - Exams taken after GCSEs

  • International GCSE - GCSE exams for students whose first language is not English.
  • Standard Grades - Similar exams taken in Scotland
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