Writing a CV and listing all of your personal achievements should be an experience filled with pride, as it means you get to show off all the great things you have done. However, it can also be stressful, particularly if you are not sure what to write down. This can particularly be the case when it comes to the education section of your CV and you need to figure out which qualifications are appropriate.
At a certain point, most people remove their earlier qualifications from their CV, including GCSEs and A-Levels. However, I recommend that you should keep GCSEs and A-Levels in your CV as they are an important record of academic achievement, and most jobs require at least maths and English at pass level from GCSEs. However, these should come secondary to any higher qualifications you have achieved, and they can be written in a condensed form simply listing how many and general grades.
While this should have given you a short answer to your questions about CVs and qualifications, please read on for more information and details about when it is best to remove GCSEs and A-Levels from your CV.
Disclaimer: This article is based on the opinion of the writer, and there is no set rule on when these qualifications should be removed. However, we have aimed to create a guide to what employers expect from CVs, to help you make the best choices for your CV.
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When should you remove GCSEs from a CV?
When you should remove certain qualifications depends on what stage of your education and career you are in. Your accomplishments and education section should focus on what is the most impressive, and relevant, to the job you are applying to.
GCSEs are a special case because they are often required to get a job. Even high-level jobs may ask for your GCSE grades, particularly those in GCSE English Language and GCSE Maths.
If you are a recent school leaver, then your GCSEs and A-Levels should be prominent in your CV. This is because you will probably not have much direct work experience, so these will be your best ways to state your talents and achievements.
In this case, listing the subjects you have studied, and your grades is a good idea. However, if you have some subject which are not your best, condense these into a smaller section with a more general description as demonstrated in the section below.
Furthermore, make sure to focus on areas that may more directly impact your job performance. This may include part time jobs or work experience, as these may be more valued by employers.
If you have just left university, your focus should be more on your degree as the highest level of study you have achieved. However, most jobs do require at least maths and English passes at GCSE, so ensure that you do include these.
For example, if you have already achieved a degree, you should write something like “10 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (or whatever grades you achieved), including Maths (with your grade) and English (with your grade).
The most important English grade is GCSE English Language, but you could also include literature if you took this qualification.
If you do not have any GCSEs and are concerned about employment prospects, more information and help can be found from Think Student, here.
When do you stop putting A-Level results on a CV?
As suggested above, A-Levels can still be relevant to your CV many years after you have taken them. However, at a certain point you should stop listing them in great detail and instead focus on other things.
If you have achieved a degree, master’s qualification, or PhD, then these should definitely come before your A-Levels on your CV, with less detail about them as you gain increasingly higher qualifications. This is especially as these higher qualifications will likely be more relevant to the job you are applying for.
Unlike GCSEs, it is less common for jobs to require A-Levels in certain subjects. Therefore, simply listing the name of the 3 or 4 subjects you took and the grades you achieved should be enough to let employers know about that stage of your education.
If you have only just completed your A-Levels, then you could choose to list individual modules that you studied in those qualifications, particularly if they are relevant to the job you are applying for. If you don’t have a lot of work experience this should allow you to demonstrate skill and relevant knowledge.
Furthermore, if you have not yet completed your A-Levels, then you should list your predicted grades and the date for when you will complete your studies.
Ideas of jobs you could apply to if you are 14 or older in the UK can be found here, from Think Student.
Do you need to put all your qualifications on your CV?
As mentioned earlier, while it is important to list your qualifications to show you have attained the necessary level of education, once you have gained higher level skills you should put less detail in the education section.
If you have been in employment for a while then avoid putting unnecessary information about your education onto your CV, particularly if it happened many years ago. Jobs that represent the skills you are applying for will be much more important to your CV than details of modules and courses taken a long time ago.
No matter what, a concise CV is going to be the most attractive to any employer, as it is easy to read and understand. Short lists of qualifications and grades achieved or predicted are your best shot at showing you have skills. Remember, if your employer wants more information, they can always ask.
What is a good example of a CV education section?
Many students find having an example to guide their writing is helpful when writing a CV. Therefore, we have created one here to give you a quick guide to what to say, and the level of detail that you need to go into.
This example is for a post-university student, as they are the most likely to want to remove GCSEs and A-Levels from their CV. However, a similar structure can be followed at any stage. This example is entirely fictional, and includes fictional dates as a guide, please do not replicate this in any way.
2020-2023 – Royal Holloway University London, BA in Music, First Class Honours.
Key modules – theory and aural studies, first study oboe performance classes, opera in history, politics and music through history
Dissertation topic – Politics and Music: how songs shape our policy decisions
2013-2020 – Stoke High School
A-Levels: Music (A), German (B), Geography (A)
GCSEs: 10 at grades 9-4, including Maths and English at grade 7.
Remember, include in your CV only what is relevant to the job you are applying to. Read the job specification and skills and cater your CV to those. Showcase your most successful achievements first, then focus on other skills which are ideal to your job.
For more helpful examples and suggestions, including a huge range of qualifications and examples for how to write them, visit this amazing guide from CVGenius.