Choosing which GCSEs to take can be an extremely difficult decision! Most students spend weeks or even months thinking about which subjects would be the best options for them. After all, you will be studying your chosen subjects for two years! All of the GCSE subjects are very different to each other, so it would be useful to research them first. It would also be beneficial to see which GCSEs are best for the careers you are interested in!
If you want to find out the five best GCSEs based on student opinion, check out this article! It may give you a better idea about which GCSE subjects you would like to choose yourself.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article originate from the student writer. They may not reflect your own opinions.
If you already have an idea about which are the best GCSEs, we would love to hear your opinion! Answer this poll, to let us know. This poll only includes optional GCSE subjects and doesn’t contain any compulsory subjects. If you’d like to find out what the most popular GCSE subjects are check out this Think Student article.
Which GCSE subjects are compulsory?
Most students will take five to nine GCSEs. However, not all these subjects are decided by the student!
In the UK, it is compulsory for all students to take GCSE English Language, GCSE Maths and combined GCSE Sciences. You can find out more about these compulsory subjects on this article from BBC Bitesize.
GCSE combined sciences are slightly different to triple science. Triple science is an optional subject choice. You can discover the differences on this article from Think Student.
You will most likely have to take GCSE English Literature too. However, not all schools enforce you to take this. If you want to find out more about compulsory GCSE subjects, check out this article from Think Student.
These subjects are compulsory because they are needed for most jobs and for you to get into university. Most jobs require basic maths skills and need you to communicate well, therefore these subjects are essential for you to learn.
GCSE English Language is usually examined with two exam papers. It requires students to use key skills during the exam and to think and write creatively. If you want to find out more about this subject, check out this article from Think Student.
GCSE Maths is normally assessed with two or three exam papers, depending on the exam board. You can also take a GCSE Maths Higher exam or a GCSE Maths Foundation exam.
The foundation exam is easier than the higher exam. Therefore, if you struggle with maths, don’t worry! You don’t have to take an extremely hard paper in order to pass this qualification.
If you want some tips on how to revise for GCSE Maths, check out this article from Think Student.
How many GCSE options can you choose?
Most students take eight to ten GCSEs. GCSE English Language, GCSE Maths and combined science is compulsory, as already stated. GCSE English Literature is also compulsory in most schools.
Therefore, most students have only four options left. They can then choose four subjects which they want to study, out of a range of choices.
However, some students take less and some students could take even more! If you take more than nine GCSEs, you may need to take extra lessons.
This could mean that you may have to stay behind for an extra hour after school. If you are dedicated and think that you can do this, then go for it!
However, make sure that you don’t put too much onto your plate. GCSE subject content may be easier than A-Level.
However, the amount of content you learn is a lot, due to all of the different subjects you study! Therefore, make sure that you can actually keep up with the work load. You can find out more about this topic on this article from Think Student.
You need to make sure that you take the best GCSE subjects for you! If you want to find out which GCSE subjects are the most popular, check out this article from Think Student.
What are the best GCSEs to take?
All of the GCSE subjects have their pros and cons. Therefore, which ones you decide to take are based on subjective opinion.
For instance, if you prefer writing essays, then GCSE History or GCSE Philosophy and Ethics would be good choices for you to take.
Alternatively, if you prefer making things and being creative, GCSE Food Technology or GCSE Textiles may be better choices for you. If you want to discover the five best GCSEs to take, based on subject opinion, check out this list.
Some GCSEs also involve coursework. This element can be useful for those students who don’t work well under exam pressure.
5. GCSE Computer Science
GCSE Computer Science is put simply, the study of computers and technology. You will learn how to code computers and write online programmes. There are a range of topics you will study during this GCSE.
The AQA exam board splits the teaching into two sections. These are: computational thinking and problem solving and theoretical knowledge.
Some smaller topics you will learn within these sections include: learning about programming language, exploring the fundamentals of computer networks and learning about algorithms. Surprisingly, you will be asked essay style questions about computing, as well as problem solving questions.
The Edexcel exam board splits this GCSE into two sections also. However, these are called the fundamentals of algorithms and computer systems. The content and questions asked are quite similar to AQA.
You can read about the full content of this GCSE for these exam boards and others on this article from BBC Bitesize. Most exam boards offer two exam papers for GCSE Computer Science and there is not likely to be any coursework.
The pass rate for computer science was shown to be 75.2% in 2022 according to this data from JCQ. Therefore, it isn’t the most difficult GCSE. If you want to discover how hard it really is, check out this article from Think Student.
Computer Science is an extremely useful GCSE, as you will gain important problem-solving skills and learn about technology, which is becoming increasingly more essential.
4. GCSE Geography
GCSE Geography is the study of the world. You may already know that you will have to learn the names of the different oceans and continents. However, many students don’t realise the human issues you will learn about in GCSE Geography.
In fact, half of the course is based on human Geography. This is where you learn about urban issues and how the human world is changing. The other half of the course is based on physical geography, such as learning about rainforests and the formation of beaches.
You will also be taught essential skills for GCSE Geography, such as how to interpret data and how to carry out fieldwork. You can find out about the different topics you will learn on this article from BBC Bitesize.
Different exam boards offer different options. For example, the AQA exam board offers the chance to study glaciers, deserts or rainforests. Your teacher can then decide which option they want you to study.
The AQA, Edexcel and OCR exam boards examines GCSE Geography students with three past papers. One focuses on human geography, one on physical geography and one on geographical skills.
The papers contain a range of essay, short answer and multiple choice questions. There is no coursework for GCSE Geography, however there is at A-Level.
You could have a look at past papers if you click this link from Revision World. In 2022, the pass rate for GCSE Geography was shown to be 72.1% according to JCQ. Therefore, it can be seen as slightly harder than Computer Science.
Learning GCSE Geography can allow you to gain a better picture of the world and prepare you for careers such as an environmental scientist or even a weather forecaster.
3. GCSE Triple Science
As already discussed, it is compulsory for students to take the combined science GCSE. If you do this, you will still learn physics, biology and chemistry. However, you will only receive two grades after you sit the six exams testing you on science.
You will also learn less content compared to students who take GCSE Triple Science. This GCSE is slightly different, as you will learn the same topics as students who do combined science, however in more detail.
You are also more likely to do more practicals and will have more hours dedicated to these subjects. You will receive three grades, one for each science, after you sit your exams.
Taking this option can be seen as easier because students who don’t take it will still have to take a different option. Therefore, they will be learning a completely different subject as well as GCSE combined science.
In comparison, if you take GCSE Triple Science, you won’t be able to take the same amount of options as others, however you may have less of a work load. For each science subject, you will most likely have to take two GCSE exams.
The questions in these exams consist of multiple-choice questions, maths problems and longer answer questions. Typically, the GCSE Physics papers will have much more maths than GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Biology.
In 2022, the pass rate for GCSE Biology was 91.9%, for GCSE Chemistry it was 92.8% and for GCSE Physics, it was 93.7% according to the JCQ website.
GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics can be seen as two of the hardest GCSEs. Check out this article from Think Student to discover the others.
Taking GCSE Triple Science is a fantastic option because you gain three different grades. Therefore, if you aren’t as good at one science compared to another, all of your science grades will not be brought down because of this.
It is also useful to take this option if you are going to do a science subject for A-Level.
2. GCSE History
Put simply, GCSE History is the study of the past. You will be taught about different periods of time and discuss the issues that were presented in the past. Often, you will investigate historical artefacts and interpret sources, to give you a better understanding of the past.
Different exam boards offer different topics in GCSE History. However, the AQA exam board focuses on students learning about the Normans, the Tudors, medieval medicine, British Empires and Nazi Germany.
The Edexcel exam board is quite similar. However, instead of medieval medicine, it teaches students about crime and punishment in the past.
OCR is completely different and mostly focuses on the effects and reasons for why people immigrated throughout History. You can discover what each exam board offers on this article from BBC Bitesize.
You are unlikely to have to complete any coursework for GCSE. However, you will have to sit at least two exams. These exams consist of essay questions and will also require you to interpret inferences and sources.
Therefore, to excel at GCSE History, you also need to have specific interpreting skills. The pass rate for GCSE History in 2022 was 70.7% according to the JCQ website.
GCSE History is an important subject because without understanding what happened in the past, we would be unable to make the future a better place.
1. GCSE Foreign Languages
GCSE Modern Foreign Languages includes GCSE Spanish, GCSE French and GCSE German. During the course, you will learn to speak these languages for a range of topics.
Some common topics you will learn include: myself and my family, technology, school, customs and festivals and much more! During the course, you will learn a range of vocabulary, including all of the different tenses.
If you want to read more about the different topics offered for each exam board, check out this article from BBC Bitesize.
Some schools also offer other modern languages, such as Mandarin. However, French, German and Spanish are the most common subjects offered.
Some schools even give students the opportunity to visit the countries the language originates from! Despite getting to go on holiday, these GCSEs are not easy at all.
Learning about all of the different tenses can be very difficult. If you want to choose your GCSE options based on ease, check out this article from Think Student to discover the easiest GCSEs.
The exams for all of the GCSE Languages are quite different to other GCSE subjects. This is because you will be tested in several ways.
You will have to do a listening exam, which involves listening to a video recording of somebody speaking the language and answering questions in an exam paper, based on what they say.
You will also have a reading and writing exam, where you answer questions written in the different language and do some translation. Finally, you may have to do a speaking exam, where you speak the foreign language yourself. However, this option depends on each individual school.
The general pass rate for GCSE Spanish in 2022 was 77.4%, according to the JCQ website. For GCSE French, the pass rate was 78.1% and for GCSE German, the pass rate was 83.5%.
Taking this option for GCSE would be extremely useful if you plan to work in different countries when you are older. Universities also appreciate students who have tried to learn a language and passed!
Which GCSE subject should you take?
After reading this list, you probably have a better idea of the top GCSE subjects students take. If you are more focused on taking an easy GCSE subject, then it would be good to take notice of the pass rates to determine how easy a subject is. If you want to know which GCSEs are the most popular in the UK, check out this Think Student article.
However, how well you do in any GCSE subjects depends on your own individual strengths. If you are better at writing essays, the definitely choose subjects which have exams based on longer answer questions.
You also need to research which topics each GCSE subject offers. For instance, it is no use taking GCSE History if you won’t be taught any topics that you are actually interested in! Therefore, make sure that you will enjoy the subject, before choosing it as your option.
Next, think about which A-Levels you may do after your GCSEs. It would be useful to look at the entry requirements and see if you need any specific subjects to do that A-Level.
Finally, research career roles you would potentially be interested in in the future. Note down any GCSE subjects that will give you the best chances of pursuing your chosen career.
After you have taken all of these steps into account, you can probably make an informed and smart decision about which GCSE options to take. Remember, that this is an important decision, so make sure that you choose wisely.