In the UK, all students must take GCSE exams at the end of Year 11. They are mainly taken by 15-16 year olds after studying the subjects for two years. However, for the first time, the subjects which you take are up to you. Choosing GCSEs can be difficult, especially with the addition of compulsory subjects. It’s important to understand how many GCSEs you must take in order to work out how many options you have.
You can take up to ten different subjects for GCSE in most schools. Everyone in the country must take Maths and English Language. Most schools will also ask you to take at least two sciences and English Literature. Lots of students then choose three or four of their own options from a varied list of humanities, arts and languages.
For more information regarding the number of GCSEs you can take, including the number of options you get to choose yourself, keep reading.
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How many GCSEs can you choose?
In the UK, GCSEs are taken by thousands of students each year. They allow students to have a little bit more freedom in which subjects they study.
The great thing about choosing GCSEs is that you have some flexibility in how many subjects you take. Every school is different, so make sure you check the GCSE information on your school’s website.
Alternatively, you could attend an options evening if your school puts one on. Have a look at this article from Think Student to see which GCSEs are compulsory and how many options you have.
How many GCSE subjects are compulsory?
Depending on which school you attend, there may be some subjects which are compulsory. In England and Wales, GCSE students must take GCSE Maths, GCSE Science and GCSE English language.
However, at some schools, there are other subjects which you must do as well. You can either take science as three separate subjects (triple science), or as “combined science”, which is equivalent to two GCSEs.
You may also be obliged to take English Literature GCSE. This counts as a separate subject to English Language as it contains different content.
This article from Think Student goes into further detail about the differences between English Language and Literature. With these in mind, most students are left with six compulsory subjects.
This means they can then choose three or four other subjects to take. Most schools in the UK ask their students to complete 10 GCSEs. However, it is possible to choose more or less options.
Alongside the other compulsory subjects, your school may ask you to choose a language. Although you get the freedom to decide which language you’ll pursue, this will take one of your three or four options.
This Think Student article provides more detail on compulsory language GCSEs.
What is the minimum number of GCSEs you can take?
In the UK, GCSEs are compulsory exams for all students aged 15-16.You can read more about this concept in this article from Think Student.
Technically, the minimum number of GCSEs you must take is two (as there are two government-mandated subjects).
However, to progress further in your education and employment, it is a good idea to gain more than just two GCSEs. At most schools, the minimum number of GCSEs you can take is eight or nine.
Most schools ask you to start with ten subjects. However, they will then monitor your progress, and decide whether you need to drop another subject or not.
In order to attend sixth form or college, you’ll need to achieve at least 5 or 6 GCSEs with high pass grades. If you want to study a particular subject at college, then you’ll want to achieve a higher grade, at least a 7, to secure your place.
For more details about the entry requirements for sixth form and college, check out this Think Student article.
What is the maximum number of GCSEs you can take?
There is no maximum number of GCSEs you can take. Whilst most people are expected to take 10 subjects, if you’re desperate to try out another one, you can speak to the school.
They may be able to arrange extra lessons outside your timetable so that you can gain more qualifications.
However, make sure you’re doing an extra subject for the right reasons. There’s no point taking it if you’re not passionate about the subject.
This article from Think Student looks all the GCSE subjects there are to choose from. Bear in mind that different schools offer different subjects.
You should double check that your school offers a subject before setting your heart on it. Alternatively, you can find a different school if you’re desperate to take a certain subject.
Although there is no maximum number of GCSEs you can take, it’s important to consider how much time you have. Taking too many GCSEs might put too much pressure on you or you might start to fall behind in your other subjects.