How Long Do GCSE Exams Last?

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Taking your GCSE exams can be a stressful period of your life. Unlike A-Levels, you will be taking so many different subjects! Each subject is completely different to each other, so it can be extremely hard to keep on top of your revision. Therefore, it’s useful to know how long each GCSE exam lasts so that you can prepare properly and even practise! It is also useful to know how long the GCSE period will last too. This is because it reminds students that it doesn’t last forever, and they are able to get through it all. They can then plan a celebration at the end!

GCSE exams usually last around four weeks. However, depending on the year, this can slightly differ. Generally, the exams take place near the start of May and finish in June. May half term falls in the middle of these exams, giving students a well-deserved break! Each exam generally lasts one to two and a half hours. However, some subjects such as GCSE Art may have longer exams.

If you want to discover how long each individual exam lasts for each subject and how long you have to power through your GCSEs, carry on reading!

How long is the GCSE exam period?

The GCSE exam period generally lasts four weeks. This may sound easy, due to the short amount of time.

However, the short space of time actually makes GCSE exams harder! This is because you could potentially have an exam nearly every day. You could even have two on the same day!

Therefore, you need to make sure that you don’t burn yourself out and remember to relax. You also need to remind yourself that the GCSE exam period doesn’t last forever!

They will be over quickly and then you will have a long summer stretching ahead of you. If you want to discover how long the GCSE exam period is in more detail, check out this article from Think Student.

How long are GCSE Maths exams?

When you take GCSE Maths, you will take either the higher or foundation tier. This will be decided by your teachers, based on what level you are working at.

Most exam boards require all students to take three GCSE Maths papers, regardless of the tier. For the AQA exam board, all three exam papers take one hour and thirty minutes each. You can learn about the papers in more detail on the AQA website.

The number of exams and duration for the OCR and Edexcel exam boards are the same as AQA. You can find out more information in this file from the OCR website or this file from the Edexcel website.

If you want to discover how many marks you need to get to actually pass GCSE Maths, check out this article from Think Student.

How long are GCSE English exams?

There are two individual GCSE qualifications that make up GCSE English. GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature are the two different elements assessed for this subject.

These subjects are separate GCSEs, so are assessed separately, with different papers examining different skills. The papers slightly differ in duration, as they include different types of questions.

GCSE English exams may seem long, however because you are writing so much, it normally feels as if they finish really quickly. If you want to discover the pass mark for GCSE English, check out this article from Think Student.

How long are GCSE English Language exams?

For the AQA exam board, there are two papers for GCSE English Language. They are one hour and forty-five minutes long each. Each paper makes up 50% of this GCSE.

There is also a spoken element to this GCSE, where students are required to give an oral presentation. You can find out more about this on the AQA website here.

In comparison, the two papers for GCSE English Language created by the OCR exam board last two hours each. There is also a spoken assessment. You can find out more about the OCR assessment of GCSE English Language on the OCR website.

The Edexcel exam board also assesses students with two exam papers. Paper one lasts one hour and forty-five minutes and paper two lasts two hours and five minutes. You can find out more about this on the Edexcel website.

How long are GCSE English Literature exams?

GCSE English Literature is assessed by two papers by all of the exam boards. For the AQA exam board, GCSE English Literature paper one lasts one hour and forty-five minutes, making up 40% of the GCSE.

The second paper lasts two hours and fifteen minutes, making up 60% of the GCSE. You can find out more information about this on the AQA website.

For the OCR exam board, paper one and paper two both last two hours each. Each paper contributes to 50% of the overall GCSE. You can discover more information on the OCR website here.

For the Edexcel exam board, each paper is worth 50% of the GCSE. However, the papers have different durations. Paper one lasts one hour and forty-five minutes and paper two lasts two hours and fifteen minutes. You can find out more about this on the Edexcel website here.

How long are GCSE Combined Science exams?

The Combined Science GCSE may include less content than the Triple Science GCSE. However, there are still six papers used to assess this subject.

For AQA, there are two biology based exams, two physics based exams and two chemistry based exams. Each exam lasts one hour and fifteen minutes. You can discover more detail about this on the AQA website here.

For the OCR exam board, each exam paper lasts one hour and ten minutes. There are six papers used to assess students and you can learn about these in more detail in this file from the OCR website.

The Edexcel exam board is the same as OCR. GCSE Combined Science is assessed with six papers, each one lasting one hour and ten minutes each. You can find out more about this GCSE in this file from the Edexcel website.

How long are the GCSE Separate Science exams?

If you do separate science, the exam papers will generally be longer than the combined science papers. For example, each paper for AQA lasts one hour and forty-five minutes each. You can find out more information about GCSE Science, both separate and combined, on the AQA website if you click here.

There are six exams in total, two for GCSE Physics, two for GCSE Biology and two for GCSE Chemistry.

If you decide to do GCSE Separate Science, each exam will last one hour and forty-five minutes for the OCR exam board. You can find out more information about this on the OCR website, if you click here.

Edexcel follows the same duration for exams as AQA and OCR. You can find out more detail about this on the Edexcel website, if you click here. If you are unsure of what the difference between combined and triple science actually is, check out this article from Think Student.

How long are GCSE exams for other common subjects?

The duration of exam papers differs greatly for each subject. This is because different subjects create exam papers in different forms which require a variation of skills.

If you want to discover the exam durations for different GCSE subjects for AQA, check out this table:

Subjects Number of exams Exam duration overall Higher and foundation tier Coursework
Foreign Languages 4 2h 30m to 3h 15m Yes No
Geography 3 4h 15m No No
History 2 4h No No
Religious Studies 2 3h 30m No No
Art and Design 1 10h No Yes
Further Maths 2 3h 30m No No
Computer Science 2 3h 45m No No
Triple Science 6 7h 30m Yes No

As you can see, there is a range of times for the duration of GCSE Foreign Language exams. This is because the foundation tier exams take less time than the higher exams.

For OCR, the exam durations can be seen in the table below:

Subjects Number of exams Exam duration Higher and foundation tier Coursework
Geography 3 3h 30m No No
History 3 4h No No
Religious Studies 3 4h No No
Art and Design 1 10h No Yes
Further Maths 1 2h No No
Computer Science 2 3h No No
Triple Science 6 7h Yes No

For Edexcel, the exam durations for common subjects are in the table below:

Subjects Number of exams Exam duration Higher/foundation tier options Coursework
Foreign Languages 4 2h 30m to 3h 30m Yes No
Geography 3 4h 30m No No
History 3 4h 20m No No
Religious Studies 3 5h 15m No No
Art and Design 1 10h No Yes
Further Maths 2 4h No No
Computer Science 2 3h 30m No No
Triple Science 6 7h Yes No

How long are GCSE Foreign Language exams?

As you can see, there is a range of times for the duration of GCSE Foreign Language exams. This is because the foundation tier exams take less time than the higher exams.

You will generally do the foundation exams if GCSE Foreign Languages isn’t your strongest subject. Don’t worry if you do! You can still get a respectable grade, you will just be in the exam room for less time, with slightly easier papers.

GCSE Modern Foreign Language exams are all different lengths. The AQA and Edexcel exam boards follow roughly the same pattern for exam duration.

The OCR exam board doesn’t offer modern foreign languages as a GCSE, so the times are not outlined in the above table.

However, an example of an assessment schedule for GCSE Foreign Languages can be seen in the table below. This is for GCSE AQA French, which can be found on the AQA website, if you click here.

Paper Task Higher duration Foundation duration
1 Listening 45m 35m
2 Speaking 10-12m 7-9m
3 Reading 60m 45m
4 Writing 1h 15m 60m

For the AQA speaking exam, you will also get 15 minutes extra preparation time.

The exam paper durations for Edexcel are mostly the same, apart from the writing paper. An example for the durations for Edexcel are outlined in the table below.

This is for GCSE French. You can discover this in more detail on the Edexcel website here.

Paper Task Higher duration Foundation duration
1 Listening 45m 35m
2 Speaking 10-12m 7-9m
3 Reading 60m 45m
4 Writing 1h 20m 1h 15m

For the OCR speaking exam, you will also get twelve minutes extra preparation time.

How long are GCSE Art exams?

For all of the exam boards mentioned, there is only one GCSE Art exam. This lasts ten whole hours! Don’t worry though! This will normally take place across a couple of days and you do get plenty of breaks.

Art is a subject which isn’t best assessed under pressurised time limits. As a result, most of GCSE Art is assessed using coursework. This will be worked on across the whole course of your GCSE.

You will have to spend many hours on this. Most GCSE Art students complain about the amount of time and work GCSE Art takes them.

Even though there is only one exam, the coursework will take up a large portion of your homework time. You must be aware of this if you are thinking about doing GCSE Art.

You can discover more about GCSE Art by the AQA exam board on the AQA website here. There is also information on the OCR website here or the Edexcel website here.

After reading this article, hopefully you have a better idea about how long the GCSE period lasts and an overall understanding of the duration of each exam. Don’t worry about the lengths of the exams. They may seem long, but they will be over in no time!

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