Your Choices at 14 – What Options are available to You?

Choices at 14

GCSEs: compulsory and optional

GCSEs are the main qualifications that young people do at key stage 4

(this usually takes place in years 10 and 11 but in some schools start in year 9).

You will be able to choose some of your GCSE courses but there are some compulsory GCSE subjects that everyone has to take.


What GCSEs do I have to take?

Some subjects are compulsory at GCSE level and have to be taken by all young people.

The compulsory subjects are:

  • English (English Literature and English Language or a single English GCSE)
  • Maths
  • Science (Core Science, Double Science or Triple Science)


GCSEs – Optional Choices

Optional subjects vary from school to school.

You are usually offered at least one course in each of four groups of subjects:

  • Arts
  • Design and Technology
  • Humanities
  • Modern Foreign Languages

You don’t have to choose one subject from each area, but remember that studying a range of subjects for your GCSEs can be useful, so that you have a wider range of options for later study and career choices.

Schools offer a wide range of GCSE subjects from which you can choose.

Your school will be able to provide you with information on the subject choices and option blocks that are open to you.

Some schools make other subjects compulsory, so it is worth checking with your school.

Whatever you are planning to do in the future, it is now a requirement for you to retake both maths and English Language GCSEs until you obtain a C Grade (or a Grade 4 in the new GCSE grading system).

Are you aware that there are other options open to you after Year 9 as well as studying at school? Alternative Options to School After Year 9


GCSEs are changing!

The Government has decided to change GCSEs to make them more challenging – they think this will help young people to be better prepared for further academic or vocational study, or for work. The new GCSEs will have new content and will be structured, assessed and graded differently from current GCSEs.


Changes to GCSE subjects from September 2016:


From September 2015, in England, new GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Maths were introduced.

From September 2016, a number of other GCSEs also changed these included:

  • Ancient languages
  • Art and design
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Citizenship studies
  • Computer science
  • Dance
  • Double science
  • Drama
  • Food preparation and nutrition
  • Geography
  • History
  • Modern foreign languages
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Physics
  • Religious studies


The way in which GCSEs are assessed is also changing

As well changes to the content of GCSEs, a different approach to assessment is being introduced…

  • There will be a new grading scale that uses the numbers 1 to 9 to identify levels of performance, with 9 being the top grade
  • Exams will be the usual method of assessment and course content will not be divided into modules
  • Exams will be taken at the end of the 2 year course in May or June
  • There will be fewer short-answer and more essay-style exam questions


Progress 8: The New 5A* – C

The way that schools will be assessed will be changing after the 2016 GCSE results.

Schools will now be judged on the progress made by students between the end of primary school (KS2) and the end of Year 11 (KS4) across a mixture of 8 subjects.

It is difficult to tell if this will have any impact on young people, although it is predicted that it will lead to a reduction in pressure as students will receive recognition for success in all subjects rather than just English and Maths.

Last Updated: 28th January 2020

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