Which Year Do You Do Your GCSEs? (TLDR: Year 11)

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Most of your time in Key Stage 3 is spent preparing for sitting your GCSE exams. It can be a very stressful time, so it is important to be prepared and know exactly what to expect. This article will take you through the typical timeframe for your GCSEs. Including when you will choose your options, which years you cover the course in, and finally when you will sit your GCSE exams.  

Generally, students will take their GCSEs at the end of Year 11, following 2 years’ learning in Years 10 and 11. GCSE options are usually chosen in Year 9. The actual GCSE exams take place every year in May and June. Resits for Maths and English Language are held each November. Students wishing to take exams early can also do so at the end of Year 10.  

If you would like a more in-depth explanation of when GCSEs are taken, make sure you read on.  

When Do You Sit Your GCSE Exams?

The normal GCSE exam period would be from May to June, with the exact dates confirmed each year. For example, in 2019 the main GCSE period was from 13th May to 21st June. Exams also have set times in the morning and afternoon, taking place at either 9.00 am or 1.30 pm.  

After receiving your results, if you do not pass GCSE Maths or English Language or are unhappy with your results, there is the option to re-sit in November. This is because it is compulsory to pass your GCSE Maths and English Language and therefore, you must retake them if you do not pass.  

If you want to know more about GCSE re-sits check out this article

Can You Take Your GCSE Exams Early?

Although normally GCSEs are sat at the age of 15 or 16, it is actually possible to take the exam at any age. This means that some students will be able to take a GCSE exam earlier than usual by working through all of their content by the end of Year 10.  

However, this is a big decision to make, and you should consider it properly first. If you want to take a GCSE early, it would be a good idea to talk to your teachers to make sure you are capable of it. Only the most proficient students should be taking GCSEs ahead of Year 11. A good example of a circumstance whereby students may take their exams early is native speaker of a language.  

Furthermore, many schools now do not allow students to sit exams early. If this is the case for you, you may want to try entering yourself for the exam as a private candidate. Check out this helpful article for more information on how to take GCSEs privately.  

When Do You Choose Your GCSE Options?

The exact date for choosing GCSE options will vary between schools. But as a whole you can expect to pick GCSE options in Year 9, or in some cases Year 8.  

Choosing your options in Year 9 gives plenty of time afterwards for learning the GCSE course thoroughly. Also, it ensures that students will know well which subjects they would like to choose after having studied them for more than 2 years prior to this decision. 

Don’t worry if your school sets an earlier date than others for choosing options. They will still provide you with plenty of notice and give advice for how to make the best choices.  

How Long is the GCSE Course?

The GCSE course is covered in a minimum of 2 years – Years 10 and 11. In practice, though, schools will also start teaching the GCSE course at some point in Year 9 to ensure that you have learnt all of the necessary content. As well as this, most subjects will build on concepts taught in Years 7 and 8 during GCSEs.  

This means that it is vital that you are an attentive student throughout most of secondary school. Although it may not seem that way, putting in less effort during Years 7 to 9 could negatively affect your learning in Years 10 and 11. 

As well as this, time is often allocated at the end of Year 11 for revision of previous topics. This will give you the opportunity to go back over old content which you may have forgotten, so don’t be afraid to ask your teacher for help during this time.  

Mock exams will also take place during Year 11, as a means of preparation for the real exams. These are usually held in November or December, about 6 months in advance of GCSEs.  

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