GCSE Options Guide

May 2, 2023 The Spark Tutoring Team

Many students in Wales and England appear for the GCSE exam in Year 10/11. When they are in Years 8/9, they select subjects they like to study for GCSE. Your school may also ask you to choose your GCSE options. But which options should you choose for your future study? Students often feel confused about their choices. Let us provide you with a brief GCSE options guide.

Know about GCSE compulsory and optional subjects

Students at the GCSE level normally need to study more or less 9 subjects, depending on their schools. Out of these 9 subjects, some are compulsory subjects, while others are optional subjects. The core subjects or compulsory ones include Science, English, and Mathematics. Many schools in England choose English as one of the compulsory subjects. So, students need to read English Literature for the exam. However, in Wales, learners should choose Welsh as the core subject.

Science subjects are divided into 3 categories, including Biology, Physics, and Chemistry. GCSE candidates can also study Combined Science. Some schools also include GCSE Religious Education as a compulsory subject.

The remaining subjects for GCSE will be optional ones. Some schools provide you with a form to let you select your options. Many academic institutions encourage students to choose a digital system to decide on optional subjects.

What are some common optional subjects for your GCSE?

Depending on your school, you can find variations in the optional subjects.

  • Some common foreign languages taught at schools are Spanish, French, and German. However, there are also foreign language options like Japanese and Mandarin.
  • Again, optional Humanity subjects are Religious Studies, Geography, and History.
  • If you are interested in technology, you can choose from technical subjects, including Computer Science and Food Technology.
  • Music, Art, Design, and Drama are some arts subjects for GCSE students.

Selecting at least one subject from the given categories is not compulsory. You may pick multiple ones from a particular category depending on your interests. When you are at A-level, you are not obligated to choose a subject in your GCSE exam. Still, it is better to check the A-level subjects before deciding on your GCSE options.

Questions that you must ask yourself to choose your GCSE options

In our comprehensive GCSE options guide, we recommend focusing on a few questions.

What are your long-term goals?

You must concentrate on your long-term vision before picking your GCSE options. Which university degree would you like to choose? What is the available A-level for the preferred degree?

It is to be noted that universities will check your GCSE subjects to determine your academic knowledge and talent. While applying to university, you will have AS grades. If you have not yet decided on your long-term goals, you can go for the most commonly chosen subjects.

What is the potential workload?

Quality is always more valuable than quantity in every aspect. So, you must not overlook the workload while choosing your subjects. Remember that some subjects are more stressful and challenging than others. Make sure that the workload for GCSE subjects is manageable.

Some more tips for choosing your GCSE optional subjects

These few tips will help you make the right decision-

Maintain a balance

Maintain a proper balance of your academic subjects while choosing GCSE options. For instance, if you are interested in Arts, you can select a language or History. The main reason for preserving balance is to have more options or opportunities in the future. With the progress of your academic career, you can find a better career path.

Focus on your subject and not your teacher

Often, students try to avoid subjects when they do not prefer the teacher. In fact, it is not the teacher but the subject that will influence your career.

Check the marking scheme

In the case of Drama, Art, and other GCSE subjects, coursework is significant. If you do not like to appear for an examination at the end of every session, you can avoid subjects related to your exam performance.

Subjects in which you have a genuine interest

Are you good at some particular subjects? As you enjoy reading those subjects, you can choose them for GCSE. You will easily be able to secure better marks.

Get advice from genuine people

You can depend on others’ views to make your decision. The best person to ask for recommendations is your teacher. However, you may also consult trained professionals like career advisors. You can talk to your friends if you are still in a dilemma. There are also online forums where GCSE students discuss relevant topics.

Do not think too much about your salary in the future

While choosing GCSE optional subjects, many students consider future job opportunities. As a result, they also think of the potential salary.

Most commonly, students with finance, engineering, medical, and technology careers get high-paying jobs. Mathematics is one of the compulsory subjects for students in the UK. However, it is not the right time to focus on your jobs and salary. You can choose subjects that interest you.

Universities appreciate core subjects only

Many universities do not bother with your optional subjects. They like to check your grades in Maths and English.

So, you can try out these tips for your GCSE options. Our comprehensive guide will help you make the right selection. Take some time to choose your subjects for GCSE.