If you’re preparing for your GCSEs, it is essential that you know when your exams are taking place as early as you can. This can help you with planning your revision, as well as making sure that you feel informed and prepared all of the way through the GCSE period. Obviously, the specific dates of the exam period vary annually, but you can work out the dates of the start and end of your exams by applying the information here to the year your GCSEs are taking place.
So, when do GCSEs start? Well, they usually begin at the start of the second week of May (or if you prefer – 2 weeks before the May half-term). There are normally 4 weeks of exams, with the May half-term break falling between weeks 2 and 3, which means that most GCSE students will have finished their exams by the third Friday of June.
When Do GCSE Exams Start?
So, exams will start in May, usually on the Monday of the second week. As I said before, the date changes depending on the year, but the same rule applies to every exam period (unless there are unforeseen circumstances which cannot be accounted for).
In order to inform you about the specific dates of the exams for the subjects which you are taking at GSCE, your Secondary School will provide you with a personalised exam timetable. This will happen at different stages depending on which school you are studying at, but it will hopefully be well in advance of your exams starting.
However, if you would like to access this information earlier, you can find out when your exams will be taking place by looking on the exam board websites. Make sure you know which exam board your school uses for each exam, to ensure that you have the correct information (though they should coincide based on subject regardless of the exam board).
The exam board websites can be found here:
It is also worth noting that some exams take place before the start of this official exam period. For example, Modern Foreign Languages (such as Spanish, French and German) have speaking exams which will always occur earlier than this period specifies. Your teacher will be given a window in which they have to conduct the exams, and so you will be given information on the date of this nearer the time (though with plenty of notice!).
When Do GCSE Exams Finish?
Your GCSE exams will then end around 5 weeks after the start date – which usually makes the end date fall in the third week of June. This is because the regular GCSE exam period contains 4 weeks of exams, with the May half term in the middle.
So, how will you know when your exams are over? Again, your Secondary School will provide you with an exam timetable which will specify the dates and times of your exams, and will therefore also detail when the exams are over and you can start enjoying your post-GCSE summer! You could also look at the exam board timetables, which can be found in the links above.
As with the start of GCSEs, the end of exams can vary slightly depending on your subject choices. Unfortunately, some subjects such as further maths tend to have their exams later than the usual exam period (up to a couple of weeks after the end of the ‘regular’ GCSE period). Though obviously you can’t make your GCSE choices based around this!
When Do Students Start Learning GCSE Content in Secondary School?
You may also have some questions about when you will start learning your GCSE content for your exams. The answer this can vary depending on which school you are at, as some start a year earlier than others.
However, the vast majorities of schools will start teaching GCSE content at the start of Year 10, as GCSEs tend to be 2-year courses. There is a possibility that your school will prefer to start teaching GCSEs a year earlier than this (starting from Year 9), in order to make sure that you have time to cover the content and revise it in lesson, though you will be able to cover everything in the 2 years.
You may also find that Secondary Schools sometimes start GCSE content in the core subjects at the end of Year 9. This is to give you a bit of a head start on the core subjects which are essential to pass. These include English, Maths and also potentially Science.
You should not be worrying about whether or not your Secondary School starts GCSE teaching before Year 10 or not, as they will have left enough time to cover all of the material in your course based on their teaching methods and timeline.
How Many Hours of GCSE Exams Do Students Have?
The amount of time that you will spend in the exam hall over your exam period will depend strongly on the subjects which you have chosen to study at GCSE. Certain subjects are more exam based, whereas others (although rare) have a coursework backing for their grading.
Some examples of the amount of exam times spent in exams are:
Clearly, if you have allowances such as extra time, these times will vary, though generally, they will be correct. If you would like to find out more about the exam durations of other subjects which you are taking at GSCE, you can search for the subjects on exam board websites, and take a look at the short specifications, which usually describe the exams as well as showing the amount of time that each one lasts. You can search for your subjects at the links below:
When Do Students Finish Covering Their GCSE Subjects Specification Content?
The time at which you finish covering all of the material for specific GCSE courses depends entirely on the subject, and the teaching. This means that you should absolutely not rely on the idea that you will have time for in-class revision.
You will therefore need to manage all of your own revision, and although teachers may not have time to run revision class sessions, they are very likely to be happy to explain something to you if you have identified gaps in your understanding whilst doing your revision.
If you would like to read about how to revise for your GCSEs, take a look at this useful article which will explain a number of different techniques which may help you with your independent revision.
Even though in terms of revision it is important that you are independent, you should not be worrying about the time that your teachers will be finishing teaching the content of your courses. Some teachers may aim to cover all of the specification content by around the Easter holidays (in March/April), whereas others will have to keep teaching new content almost right up until the start of your exams.
So, even with this variation, you should make sure that you trust the competence of your teachers, as they will have the content planned out, and be aware of the exam dates, and the deadlines at which they should be finishing covering the content of their course.