If you’re currently trying to decide which GCSEs you should take, it’s important to know whether the option you’re considering will involve coursework. Coursework is a useful way of showing your ability outside of taking written exams. Coursework can allow you to: take more responsibility for what you study, study a topic in more depth, and have more control over the pace at which you study.
To understand which subjects involve coursework and learn the percentage of coursework and exams in these subjects, keep reading this article.
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Do GCSEs still have coursework?
After new education plans were introduced in 2015, most GCSEs no longer include any coursework that count towards students’ final grades. Before this, there would be coursework tasks even in subjects such as maths and English.
In some subjects coursework was done through long written tasks, whereas in maths this was done through a handling data project and an applying mathematics task. In English Language, 40% of the end grade used to be from coursework. This was through assessment of speaking, listening and written assignments.
Despite the recent changes to the GCSE system, all creative and practical subjects do still have some level of coursework. This is because in certain subjects, like Art for example, coursework is necessary for students to demonstrate their talent at particular skills. The subjects that have coursework are Food Preparation & Nutrition, Drama, Art, Music, DT (Design Technology), and PE (Physical education).
What percentage of creative or practical GCSEs is coursework?
No GCSE is currently 100% coursework. There will always be some weighting placed on final exams. All of these final exams are written, apart from Art which is instead a creative project done under time pressure.
Also, it’s important to note that for the same subject, different exam boards may require different amounts of coursework. Make sure to find out which exam board your school uses for the particular subject you’re considering. If your school offers IGCSEs, have a read of this Think Student article to understand the difference between them and normal GCSEs.
Have a look at the table below which has information outlining what percentage of the GCSEs are coursework and exams. This data is from AQA’s website.
|Subject||% Coursework||% Exam|
|Food Preparation and Nutrition||50%||50%|
|Design and Technology (DT)||50%||50%|
|Physical Education (PE)||40%||60%|
In each of these subjects, the type of task to be completed for coursework is completely different. Most exam boards refer to coursework as a non-exam assessment (NEA).
What does GCSE coursework involve?
In the Food Preparation and Nutrition GCSE, the non-exam assessment mainly consists of a cooking practical. Students will have to prepare, cook and present a final menu of three dishes. The students will then have to write a report about their work and include photographic evidence. To find out more about the Food Preparation and Nutrition course, visit the AQA page.
For the coursework in Drama, there are two different components. One involves performing a group devised mini play and keeping a log of the creation process. The other involves performing two extracts from a play. To find out more about GCSE Drama, visit the AQA page.
In GCSE Art, the coursework component consists of selecting and presenting a portfolio representative of their course of study. The portfolio must include one main project as well as a selection of other work from activities such as experiments, skills-based workshops, or responses to gallery visits. To find out more about GCSE Art, visit the AQA page.
In GCSE Music, students must do both an ensemble performance and a solo performance using the instrument of their choice (which can be voice). They must also create two different music compositions. To find out more about GCSE Music, visit the AQA page.
For coursework in GCSE DT, students must design and produce a product. This will involve investigating design possibilities, planning, creating their idea, and evaluating the end result. At school, students will have to use special equipment such as machines and saws. To find out more about GCSE DT, visit the AQA page.
For coursework in GCSE PE, students will be assessed through their performance in three different sports or physical activities of their choice. One has to be a team activity, one an individual activity, and the third either a team or individual activity. Students will also be assessed on their analysis and evaluation of their improvements in performance. To find out more about GCSE PE, visit the AQA page.
Does GCSE Science have coursework?
GCSE Science doesn’t involve any graded coursework. However, there is a list of required practicals that students are supposed to complete. These science practicals will involve following instructions set out by the teacher to investigate materials or scientific principles. Students will often have to write up the method and conclusion. It’s important that students try their best to understand these practicals as there will be questions about them that are worth several marks in the exams.
Does GCSE English have coursework?
GCSE English technically doesn’t have any coursework that has a weighting on the final grade. However, in English Language there’s a compulsory spoken language assessment that isn’t done at the same time as normal GCSE exams. It’s reported as a separate grade (either Pass, Merit, Distinction or Not Classified) and doesn’t contribute to the result of the GCSE English Language qualification. To learn more about the spoken language assessment, have a look at this AQA page.
For English Literature, despite there not being any coursework tasks, there are of course novels and poems that students need to become familiar with in order to pass the GCSE. This will have to be done throughout Year 10 and Year 11. Students might be set the homework of reading a couple of chapters for example.
What are some tips for completing GCSE coursework?
If you’re deciding to do one or multiple GCSE subjects that involve coursework, it’s crucial that you can be organised enough to complete them to the best possible standard. As seen from the table shown previously, coursework makes up a significant proportion of the final grade. To have the best chance at getting a high grade, you’ll need to put an adequate amount of time into the task and not treat it as trivial.
In GCSE Art in particular, there is a lot of work that will need to be completed throughout the two-year course. A lot of homework will end up being graded for coursework as they will go in your portfolio. GCSE Art is often said to be one of the most stressful GCSEs because of this constant pressure of getting work done on time out of school.
If you love art and want to continue studying it, it’s important to manage your time well and not post-pone completing tasks until the last minute. As soon as you start getting behind with work that needs completing, that’s when you’ll really start to struggle and make things harder for yourself. If you want to learn how to get a good grade in GCSE Art in general, check out this Think Student article.
Make sure that you always note down what you’ve got to get done and by what date. This could be in a physical planner, on an app on your phone, or on a digital calendar. Perhaps set a specific time each weekend to complete any remaining work that you didn’t manage to get done during the week. If you remain on schedule, you’ll significantly reduce any stress plus you’ll have a higher chance of producing your best quality work.