The 10 Most Popular GCSE Subjects – Ranked for 2022

In GCSE by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Selecting your GCSE subjects may feel like a stressful experience, but the more you know about each subject and the process of selection, the easier it will be. This article will be ranking the 10 most popular GCSE subjects in 2022. You might also want to check out these articles to help inform you decision on which options to choose: 

Disclaimer: This list is not ranked in order of popularity, but merely a culmination of general popular subjects in recent years. These subjects are based on student polls and research. They are subjective to change depending on the factors mentioned later in the article and are not definite or limiting in any way. While choosing your GCSEs, consider all the factors that affect your decision.

10. GCSE French (And Other Modern Languages)

It is certainly a good idea to take at least one language at GCSE level and at many schools it is usually compulsory to do so. There are many cognitive benefits of taking a language such as improved memory. Studying a language provides an alternative educational scope in comparison to subjects such as Triple Science and Maths.

Despite this, GCSE French has found itself to be less popular than the other subjects with 122,800 students taking it. This could be attributed to the severe marks scheme which results in great difficulty for students to achieve a high mark with only 6.6% of students getting a grade 9.

Comparatively, other languages had less harsh marking which could be a reason why other languages were chosen over French. However, to combat the decline in language learning, in 2020 Ofqual announced that the French GCSE exams would be marked less harshly from now on, to allow the grading to fall in line with that of Spanish GCSE. This is also being done with GCSE German as students have found the same pattern between the two subjects. This means that students results could potentially be boosted by a grade and a half! French is an extremely useful language to learn, so don’t let the fear of the mark scheme deter you from taking it as a GCSE subject.

9. GCSE Geography

The GCSE Geography course allows a deepened understanding of geographical processes and builds a greater perception of the world that we live in. Human geography focuses on urban, economic, and cultural aspects of the world. This can therefore be an extremely useful GCSE to take and can accommodate a variety of careers ranging from biology-related jobs to business.

The Royal Geographical Society states that ‘Employers and universities see geography as a robust academic subject rich in skills’ entailing many trips and can be appealing to a lot of students, with 256,420 candidates taking it. Some students may feel deterred at the vastness of the subject and the case studies which are required for both the human and physical exams; however, this depends on personal preference and the flexibility of the mark scheme means that higher grades are easily attainable.

Despite being at 9th place in the rankings, GCSE Geography is definitely growing in popularity. Employers love the combination of practical and social skills which students attain from studying this multifaceted subject.

8. GCSE Art

If you have spoken to your peers about studying art at GCSE, you may very well have had some mixed opinions about their experiences. Art can be more demanding than you think, with deadlines to complete specific pieces. This subject requires good time management skills which develop throughout the course and therefore, although it can be stressful initially, you accustomed to the process and eventually thrive.

Some schools may choose to provide you with a course guide outline at the beginning of the year, which means that you know what comes next and allows you to best prepare, removing some of the pressure that most art students may face. The course outline may entail trips to museums and art galleries which is a great way to immerse yourself in different cultures whilst also improving the grade you receive at the end of the course.

Whilst most people assume that GCSE Art is aimed at students who aspire to pursue a creative career such as architecture or design, this is not the case. Art can help improve your research abilities as well as creative thinking. Additionally, some may find that studying art complements your other subjects, as well as providing a more creative and enriching activity, almost as a break from the academic focus.

7. GCSE History

GCSE History is the first essay subject to be discussed in this article. By taking GCSE History you will be able to develop your understanding of key events in the world, and it is much more than just memorising dates and events. You can learn and form your own well-rounded opinions on the actions of the key figures and institutions involved, which is a skill essential in any career. Being able to draw reflective conclusions using contextual information is an impressive quality which employers are keen on.

The deterring quality of history may be the time-pressured essays which many students find to be the most challenging part of the subject exam as a whole, however many students know that as they progress through the course, their skills improve tremendously.

The number of students choosing GCSE History is rising, with 261,537 choosing to take it in 2016 and the number has been growing since. In terms of the course content there will be variations between schools and exam boards. The topics included in the syllabus can range from Tsardom in Russia to the history of medicine. When universities are looking for candidates, a high score in GCSE History will really impress as it shows that you are able to communicate your structured knowledge whilst integrating your own opinions into the subject.

6. GCSE Design and Technology (DT)

This subject has close overlaps with GCSE Art in the sense that there is a lot of creativity and communication involved through your work, however the exams are different. Whilst GCSE Art is assessed mainly from components which are carried out during the school year, GCSE Design and Technology requires a written paper.

GCSE Design and Technology is appealing to employers as it is evidence that candidates are able to identify and solve problems by designing and making products; a good quality when considering apprenticeships in areas such as carpentry, construction, and engineering.

This subject also has overlaps with GCSE Maths, as it involves very precise 3D measurements which allows simultaneous improvement in both subject areas.

5. GCSE Additional and Combined Science

GCSE Additional Science is the same as GCSE Double Science. The way in which this works is that it incorporates the same content as Single Science however it involves more challenging and in-depth topic areas.

When it comes to university applications, GCSE Additional Science takes precedence over GCSE Single Science, however it doesn’t top GCSE Triple Science; this is the most in-depth.

GCSE Additional Science consists of selected topic areas from Biology, Chemistry and Physics which will be studied over the course. Whilst GCSE Additional Science is easier than Triple Science if you wish to pursue a career in STEM then pushing yourself to take GCSE Triple Science would definitely improve your chances when applying to universities.

4. GCSE Science

GCSE Science is clearly one of the most popular GCSEs simply because most schools prefer that their students undertake this GCSE as it is one of the core subjects. Furthermore, a good grounding in science can apply itself in different subjects as well, for example weathering processes in GCSE Geography.

Depending on which school you attend, you will have the choice to take Single, Double or Triple science which increase in depth respectively. This subject allows skills such as problem solving and critical thinking to be developed, which are key skills in careers.

Taking this subject allows you to improve your analytical skills which are very appealing to future employers. Given that science is a core subject, many students will have this qualification and therefore not taking it may put you at a disadvantage, not only when it comes to selecting universities, but when deciding on future careers so as to broaden your horizons.

Many people hold the common misconception that science is lacking creativity, and this can act as a deterrent or make people less enthusiastic about studying this subject. This is far from the truth; there is a lot of information required to learn and therefore students with photographic memories or clever memorisation methods find this to be a pleasing challenge.

GCSE Science also incorporates required practical’s which assess your ability to analyse and evaluate methods which is a much more hands-on approach and is very useful especially if you are interested in a career in STEM.

3. GCSE English Literature

English is clearly a very important skill to have regardless of what career you pursue. Even if literature does not appeal to you, the essays which you undertake in this course will certainly be building blocks in your education.

When studying English literature, you will have the opportunity to focus on a given classical text such as one of Shakespeare’s many plays, or war poetry. These nurtures the passion students may have, or discover, for reading and creative writing which can also be used in the workplace. Studying this subject is not only important for those who are keen on pursuing a literary career, but to most students as it allows analytical skills to be developed by forming their own opinions on specific literature pieces.

2. GCSE English Language

Unlike GCSE English Literature, English Language homes in on those analytical skills even further by building up writing techniques which are applied to unseen pieces of writing.  English language provides students with arguably some of the most important skills in their academic and future careers. Future employers will value a member of staff who has high quality writing and communication skills.

Additionally, most university courses have the requirement of a minimum of a grade 5/6 at GCSE English Language and therefore this GCSE is certainly proven to be popular, as it is almost an essential when applying to university.

1. GCSE Maths

GCSE Maths has been proven to be the clearly most popular GCSE as it cements the basic academic skills needed in many life scenarios. Maths is used both in and out of the workplace and has many crossovers into other subjects especially science.

Taking maths at GCSE does not relate to a career in mathematics however, it is essential to be able to order problems and solve them logically and methodically. GCSE Maths is a compulsory subject at school, meaning every student has to take it. If you want to progress onto to higher education achieving a pass grade in maths is almost always required.

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