How Many GCSE Exams Do Students Have To Take? (By Subject)

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The GCSE exam period is a tough time for most students. This is because you are required to learn so much content, from completely different subjects. As a result, it can be overwhelming when you find out how many exams you actually have to take! However, you need to remember that they will not last forever, despite it seeming like this!

Usually, students are required to take 9 GCSEs. Some students may take more or less, depending on their capabilities. Each GCSE often requires students to sit two or three exam papers, depending on the subject. As a result, the average student could be taking 18 to 25 exams. However, again, this could differ depending on the chosen subjects.

The table below shows the number of exam papers needed to be taken for each subject, based on the different exam boards.

GCSE Subject Number of papers for AQA Number of papers for OCR Number of papers for Edexcel
Maths 3 3 3
English Literature 2 2 2
English Language 2 2 2
Combined Science 6 4 6
Separate Science 6 6 6
History 2 3 3
Geography 3 3 3
Computer Science 2 2 2
Psychology 2 2 2
Physical Education 2 2 2
Art 1 1 1
Modern Foreign Languages 4 N/A 4
Religious Studies 2 3 2
Music 1 1 1
Business Studies 2 2 2

It can definitely be useful to find out how many exams you will have to take, in order to prepare yourselves! If you want to find out the specific number of papers sat for each subject, check out the rest of this article!

How many papers did you have to sit for your GCSEs? We would love to know! If you are able to remember, answer this poll below!

How many exams did you sit for your GCSEs?
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<h2>How many GCSE exams do students usually have?</h2>

The number of exams students have can differ greatly. This is because some students may take lots of subjects which only require two papers to be sat. Meanwhile, others may choose subjects such as French, where four exams are used to determine a student’s grade.

In my experience, I had to sit 22 exams because I did 9 GCSEs. If you do less GCSEs or choose subjects with fewer papers, you obviously won’t have to take as many! From my own experience, I would say that students normally take 18 to 24 exams.

However, don’t let the number of exams a subject has put you off! Always choose subjects that you think you will enjoy the most. If you want to discover how you should go about choosing your GCSEs, check out this article from Think Student.

Certain subjects also have a non-exam assessment aspect, such as GCSE Art. Only one official exam is sat, however students have to do lots of coursework! This is similar to GCSE Music, where most of the qualification is assessed not in an exam.

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE Maths?</h2>

For the AQA, OCR and Pearson Edexcel exam boards, you would have to sit three exam papers for GCSE Maths. This is the same regardless of whether you are going to sit higher tier or foundation tier GCSE Maths exams.

If you are unsure about the differences between foundation and higher exams in general, check out this article from Think Student.

For AQA, each paper is 33.3% of the overall grade. Paper 1 is non-calculator, but papers 2 and 3 require a calculator. To find out more about how AQA examine GCSE Maths, check out their website .

For OCR and Pearson Edexcel, each paper also makes up a third of the overall grade achieved. For Edexcel, paper 1 is non-calculator and papers 2 and 3 require a calculator, similar to AQA. You can find out more about Edexcel’s assessment for GCSE Maths on their website, if you .

In comparison, paper 1 and 3 for OCR do require a calculator, but paper 2 doesn’t. You can find out more about OCR on their website .

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE English?</h2>

GCSE English is split into two separate subjects. These subjects are GCSE English Literature and GCSE English Language. As a result, there are different papers sat for these two subjects.

GCSE English Language also requires students to complete a speaking assessment. This is only ten minutes long but can also be seen as an exam. For more on the GCSE English Language speaking assessment, check out this Think Student article.

If only the written exams are taken into account, students have to complete four papers for GCSE English overall. These papers will determine two grades, as two papers will be used to assess GCSE English Language and two papers will be used to assess GCSE English Literature.

<h3>How many exams do you take for GCSE English Literature?</h3>

For GCSE English Literature, the AQA, OCR and Edexcel exam boards require students to sit two papers. For AQA, paper 1 is worth 40% of the overall grade and paper 2 is worth 60%. You can find out more about the AQA papers on their website .

In comparison, for OCR and Edexcel, each paper is worth 50% of the overall grade. You can find out more about GCSE English Literature on the OCR website . Alternatively, you can view a document from Edexcel detailing their assessment method .

<h3>How many exams do you take for GCSE English Language?</h3>

For GCSE English Language, there are also two written papers that need to be completed by students. For AQA, each paper is worth 50% of the overall GCSE English Language grade. You can visit the AQA website here if you want to find out more about the papers.

This is similar to OCR and more detail about their papers can be found on the OCR website . In comparison, the paper 1 for Edexcel makes up 40% of the total GCSE and paper 2 makes up 60%. You can find out more on the Edexcel website .

If you want to learn about GCSE English Language overall, check out this article from Think Student.

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE Science?</h2>

When you do science at GCSE, you will be entered to do either combined or separate science. Both subjects cover biology, chemistry and physics.

However, combined science is taught the science subjects in less detail, with less content, in comparison to separate science. Combined and separate science both have higher or foundation tier options.

For AQA, students have to sit six exams for GCSE Science. This is regardless of whether they have taken combined or separate science. Two exams will be sat for physics, two for biology and two for chemistry.

However, this will produce three separate grades for students who take separate science but only two grades for students who take combined. You can find out more about AQA combined science or the different subjects in separate science on the AQA website here.

This is similar to Edexcel, where combined science is also assessed via six papers, shown in from Edexcel. Separate science is also assessed via six papers, with two for each science and can be viewed in more detail on the .

According to the OCR website, students who take combined science have to sit four papers. In comparison, if a student takes separate science, 6 papers will have to be taken. This includes two papers for each science.

If you want to find out more about the differences between combined and separate science, check out this article from Think Student.

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE History?</h2>

For the AQA exam board, students only need to take two exams for GCSE History. Each paper is worth 50% of the overall grade. There are many different topic teachers can choose for students to be assessed on during these papers. You can discover what the AQA exam board offers on the .

In comparison, the Edexcel and OCR exam boards require students to sit three exam papers for GCSE History. You can find out more about these papers on the OCR website or the Edexcel website .

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE Geography?</h2>

For the AQA, OCR and Edexcel exam boards, students are required to sit three papers. They generally follow the same pattern, in the sense that one paper assesses physical geography, and one paper assesses human geography.

The last paper, known as paper 3, assesses geographical skills for all exam boards. You can specifically find out about geography papers for the exam boards on the AQA website , the OCR website or the Edexcel website .

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE Computer Science?</h2>

For the AQA, Edexcel and OCR exam boards, two papers are required to be completed by students for GCSE Computer science. Each paper is worth 50% of the GCSE.

However, the durations of the papers differ between the different exam boards ranging from 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. You can discover these differences on the AQA website . Alternatively, from the OCR website, or from the Edexcel website.

Computer science is a popular GCSE, as it has a lot of real life application. If you want to find out more about computer science, check out this article from Think Student.

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE Religious Studies?</h2>

For the AQA and Edexcel exam boards, students have to take two exam papers for religious studies. Each paper is worth 50% of the grade,

You can discover the different options in the papers and more details about the duration of the papers on the or the . In comparison, the OCR exam board requires students to complete three exam papers, which can be seen on this page from the .

Religious studies is a GCSE which is actually compulsory to take in some schools, most notably faith schools. If you are going to apply to attend a faith school and want to learn more about them, check out this article from Think Student.

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE Psychology?</h2>

GCSE Psychology is relatively new compared to the other GCSE subjects. As a result, it is extremely popular! This subject requires students to learn an immense amount of content.

Regardless, students will only have to sit two exam papers for GCSE. This is true for the AQA, OCR and Edexcel exam boards. For AQA, each paper is worth 50% of the GCSE. You can read more information about the content on from AQA.

The weightings of the papers are the same for OCR, as shown on the . Students who are assessed via the Pearson Edexcel exam board also have to sit two papers. However, paper 1 is worth 55% of the GCSE and paper 2 is worth 45%, as shown on from Edexcel.

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE Modern Foreign Languages?</h2>

If you wish to study a modern foreign language, you will have to be assessed via the AQA or Edexcel exam boards. This is because OCR no longer creates papers for modern foreign languages. You can find out why on from the OCR website.

The most popular modern foreign languages are French, German and Spanish. To be assessed on these subjects, students will have to sit four exams!

Three of the exams are written and one exam is a speaking assessment. The written papers will assess students listening, writing and reading abilities. You can find out more about how AQA assesses modern foreign languages on the AQA website.

Alternatively, check out from Edexcel to learn about Edexcel’s ways of assessment.

<h2>How many exams do you have to take for GCSE PE?</h2>

This GCSE is assessed quite differently to the previous subjects mentioned. This is because GCSE PE is also assessed via coursework. For the AQA, OCR and Edexcel exam boards, students have to complete two written papers.

However, they also have to complete a practical assessment and then evaluate their performance. The weightings of these components to the qualification differ between the exam boards. Check out the , from OCR or the if you want to compare these.

Hopefully, this article has outlined to you how many GCSE exams you could be taking. Regardless of how many you need to take, as long as you try your best, this will maximise your results!

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