Is GCSE History Worth Taking?

In GCSE by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

GCSE History is a subject that students hear a lot about – after all, it’s part of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and is a popular subject in general. However, there is still a lot about GCSE History that needs to be demystified: what is the workload for GCSE History like? Will GCSE History be useful in future, or should you pick a more useful GCSE subject instead? Essentially, is GCSE History worth taking, or is there a chance you’ll regret choosing it?

Personally, I think GCSE History is one of the most worthwhile GCSE subjects out there. It’s a good GCSE to pair with other GCSE subjects, you can gain a lot of transferable skills that universities and employers will look for, and GCSE History is good for opening up pathways into fields like law, politics, and management.

Disclaimer: This article is an opinion piece from a student who has studied both GCSE and A-Level History. The opinions presented in this article should not be taken as fact.

In this article, I’ll be breaking down GCSE History to help you decide if it’s really the subject for you!

Should you take GCSE History?

Personally, I’d always argue in favour of a student pursuing GCSE History. Here’s a list of a few of my key reasons:

  • It opens doors to higher education/future employment: you’d be surprised how many courses or jobs will require you to or recommend you have GCSE History!
  • You gain skills you can use elsewhere: GCSE History teaches you a whole host of transferable skills, valued by universities and employers alike!
  • The content is interesting: although this one is more subjective, the content of GCSE History is definitely useful to know. It helps understand which events shaped our world today!

I’ll be covering all of these in more detail later in this article, so keep reading for more.

GCSE History was also ranked as one of the most popular GCSE subjects in this Think Student article! Check it out to see where GCSE History placed and the other subject rankings.

Pros of taking GCSE History

I’ve already talked about some upsides to taking GCSE History, and I’ll expand on those later in this article. For now, let’s look at some other ‘pros’ of GCSE History that make studying it worth it!

Firstly, it’s a good GCSE to pair with other GCSE subjects. The content you learn about in GCSE History is useful for a whole range of subjects, including GCSE English Literature, GCSE Geography, GCSE Art, GCSE Economics, GCSE Business and more.

Second of all, the content is really fun. Of course, there might be topics you don’t like as much, but there are some great topics like the Cold War, the rise of America, and Nazi Germany. They’re all fundamental in understanding why the world is how it is today!

If you’d like to look at some example topics to see if GCSE History would be worth it for you, check out this page of the AQA website.

Cons of taking GCSE History

So far, taking GCSE History seems pretty worth it, right? Naturally, though, it might not work for everyone, and here are a few reasons why.

First of all, GCSE History will require a lot of dedicated effort and revision. It’s no secret that you’ll have to work hard for your GCSEs, and History is no exception! If you don’t really have the time, or want to prioritise other subjects over GCSE History, then GCSE History might not be worth it.

If you’d like some advice on how to revise for GCSE History, I’d recommend checking out this Think Student article.

Secondly, GCSE History is heavily essay-based. Thankfully for me, my strengths are in essay-writing, but if you prefer scientific-based subjects like GCSE Maths, you might struggle with GCSE History more than other students.

Thirdly, you might not see progress in GCSE History as quickly as other GCSEs, which can be demotivating. For me, it took me the entire 2 years to go from grade 6s to a grade 9, whereas I was consistently getting 8s and 9s in my other GCSEs, which personally was pretty demoralising!

However, everyone is different! You might be getting those 8s and 9s right off the bat, or you might not even be aiming for those top grades. Either path is equally okay, as long as you feel that taking GCSE History was worth your time!

Why would you take GCSE History?

Of course, there are many reasons why you might be asking if GCSE History is worth taking. Should you choose GCSE History instead of another GCSE subject?

Will you actually use it later on in life? Do universities or employers care if you have GCSE History as a qualification? Many students have asked these and similar questions before, so don’t worry if you’re still not sure about GCSE History!

After all, you have a limited number of GCSE choices, so it’s important to choose the options that are right for you! Let’s look at what you might need GCSE History for.

Taking A-Level History

Naturally, it’s a big help to study GCSE History if you want to take A-Level History. At most sixth form colleges, GCSE History is a requirement to study A-Level History (but this isn’t always the case).

You won’t study exactly the same modules at A-Level that you did at GCSE. However, the time periods are often overlapping, consecutive, or at least close together. This means that you’ll already have background knowledge around your A-Level History modules!

A-Level History is a great A-Level in terms of higher education and employment options. It’s also flexible – like with GCSE History, you can pair it with lots of other subjects that are mutually beneficial.

Therefore, if you’re interested in studying History at A-Level, or even at university later down the line, I’d highly recommend taking GCSE History.

Transferrable skills

Earlier in this article I mentioned that GCSE History teaches you lots of valuable transferable skills. What exactly are these skills, and how do they help?

The majority of GCSE History is focused on critical thinking. This is your ability to understand a concept, analyse it, apply it to something/construct an argument around it, and evaluate it.

In GCSE History exams, you’ll likely have to work with unseen source extracts and answer questions about them. These test your ability to understand and analyse new concepts.

You’ll also have to answer longer questions, in which you have to give a balanced argument and reach a conclusion. These test your ability to apply knowledge you learnt during your studies and complete a thorough evaluation.

Critical thinking is one of the most important skills out there. If you want to access tertiary-sector, high-paying jobs, you will absolutely need to develop your critical thinking skills, and GCSE History does just that!

Another transferable skill is essay writing – your ability to convey your argument in not only a coherent, but a cohesive way. Being able to communicate what you think in a way everybody understands is very important!

Within these skills are other, more niche transferable skills that you can talk about in things such as a personal statement or CV. Having GCSE History as a qualification will show universities and employers you have all the experience I’ve talked about above!

If you’d like further information about transferable skills you can get from GCSE History, the exam board WJEC Eduqas has more information on their website.

Future career paths available with GCSE History

GCSE History is useful for a whole range of career paths, and they don’t have to be history related. You may need other field-related qualifications to access these fields, but more often than not, you can’t pursue these other qualifications without GCSE History!

GCSE History can be used to break into major fields such as law, politics, journalism, and management. To get into these sectors, you will probably need GCSE History to access the higher education/training needed to progress.

Combining GCSE History with other GCSEs like GCSE English Literature or GCSE Business, can help you access fields such as research and business consultancy! GCSE History is quite a flexible GCSE in terms of it’s good to pair with.

Of course, being a historian is a job in itself! If you’re passionate about the subject, you could consider various history-related fields such as a history teacher, librarian, archivist, or archaeologist!

If you’d like to look at a list of prospective jobs that require or recommend GCSE History, then check out this article from Indeed.

What is the workload like for GCSE History?

When considering GCSE History as an option, a lot of students worry whether the workload is too much. After all, you have other GCSEs to think about – you don’t want one taking up all your time!

As a student who studied both GCSE History and GCSE Geography, I’d personally say don’t worry about this issue! I’m not going to pretend that you won’t have to put in a lot of work for GCSE History, but I was still able to divide my attention equally between my other GCSEs.

The workload for GCSE History is definitely higher than most GCSEs. Don’t let that put you off though! The high workload was, for me, something that actually made GCSE History worth it.

Sixth form colleges and employers recognise the dedication that has to go into GCSE History. Passing GCSE History is a testament to your hard work, which will impress your future college/employer!

Which is better: GCSE History or GCSE Geography?

As a student who studied History and Geography at both GCSE and A-Level, I’d say I’m well-equipped to answer this question! Personally, I thought GCSE History was worth taking more than GCSE Geography.

Both GCSE History and Geography are really interesting subjects, and you can learn a lot about our current world from them. I actually changed my GCSE options 3 times, because I wanted to study both!

However, for me personally, GCSE History was more challenging, which I enjoyed. Similarly, when I got things right, it felt more rewarding for History than it did for GCSE Geography.

GCSE History was even named as one of the best GCSE subjects to take in this Think Student article. Check it out to find out the reasons why and which other GCSEs were on the list!

You may feel different, and that’s absolutely fine! However, for me personally, I’d even study GCSE History again if I could!

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