A day in the life of a typical GCSE student

Students at desk

So what are GCSEs really like? We asked four TSR members, who've now completed their GCSEs, to tell us about what their normal day was like. 

Here's what they had to say about the workload, the homework, the teachers and everything else to do with being a GCSE student.


 Martie08 says:

I get up about 6:30am, and I get into school pretty early, 7:40am sometimes. I generally sit in the main hall or hang around corridors on a morning; there's no room for a common room or the like for lower school, so we have to make do. 

When my friends get in we all go sit/stand in the corridor outside my form room and maybe do some last-minute homework. 

I get on with pretty much all of my teachers to be honest, and some of them you can have a really good laugh with. I've found the workload fairly light and simple, though people with more coursework based subjects (I find art, graphics and performing arts are the worst offenders) seem to have struggled way more than me. 

My favourite class is probably English, even though I'm not a huge fan of the subject, because we have English the most and you can "waste" a few lessons going off-topic a bit, so we have some good debates! Other subjects we have nowhere near enough time to cover the material.

I didn't find I really had much time for hobbies/clubs as although on paper there was a lot on offer, you couldn't really just turn up having never done it before, and it’s mostly sports which isn't exactly my strong point.

I have a group of maybe four close friends, and then I'm on good terms with most of my year. We tend not to fall out, which is nice, because in lower years my friendship groups have been pretty unstable.

KaylaB says:

I get up at 6:45 (after about 10 alarms), I shower and get dressed then make sure all of the stuff I need for the day is in my bag. 

I leave my house at around 7:30 to get the bus that stops at the high street near my school, I then buy my lunch and walk to school and arrive and meet my friends for around 8:00.

My school starts at 8:30 so I use this time to ask my friends if we had any homework due in today and if we did we collectively do it or copy the person who has done it (I always forget about homework until it's too late.) 

We have form time/registration from 8:30 - 8:50, so if I do have any extra work I do it then, otherwise it's just a chilled 20 minutes before the day begins.

I have quite a large group of friends and usually we're all in the same classes, (except geography, because everyone else quite rightfully chose history, I wish I had too, now). We always have a laugh in class and there's always someone nearby to joke around and chat to and it's great to get them to explain things to you.

All of my teachers are great especially my ICT and English teachers. They're incredibly funny and it's a chilled lesson but we get loads done. On the other end of the scale we have the not-so-good teachers who start shouting at you as soon as you walk in to class *ahem* geography *ahem*.

My favourite classes are ICT, maths and chemistry. Personally, the workload for me wasn't that much, but I was incredibly lazy and did the least amount of work possible so. But I still ended up with good grades on mocks and pretty much full marked every subject's coursework.

Aisa says:

Normally, I wake up at about 6:30. I’ve only got a 15-minute walk to school, so it’s a bit unnecessary to wake up so early really, but I often need to finish off homework in the mornings, and I like having extra time. 

I’m meant to pack my bag in the evening, but I usually don’t bother, so I pack it in the morning. Before GCSE, your subjects normally all have different coloured books, but at GCSE level, because everyone’s doing different subjects, you can end up with three or four books the same colour, which is really annoying. 

I make my lunch in the morning and put it in my bag, but sometimes I forget (which is stupid of me, because it sucks if you’re hungry in the afternoon and the teacher decides to spring a mock test on you). I have Latin lessons in the morning (this German teacher at school decided it would be great if some people learnt Latin and started twilight classes) so I get to school at about 7:50.

Sometimes I miss a lesson if I’m ill or something, and sometimes I forget what the task we’re set for homework is, so I make sure I know a few people in all my classes well enough to be able to find them and ask them about it. When I started my GCSEs, I was worried that I’d be in different classes to all my friends, which I was, but it didn’t matter because I still see them at break and lunch, and I’ve made other friends as well anyway.

Everyone says the work level will be awful and you’ll get tons of homework, but I normally don’t get too much – just a couple of hours a night. It’s great because I dropped most of the subjects I really hated in KS3, so even if the homework’s horrible, it’s better than it used to be in that respect. 

My teachers normally understand if I forget a piece of homework if I’ve had loads of homework lately, but I’m really careful about forgetting it in some lessons. I’ve found that the teachers who are willing to do the most to help you do well and who run the most revision classes are the ones who are most likely to be furious if you don’t have your homework in their lesson.

I wish I did Duke of Edinburgh, but I don’t. I normally have lunch in the school hall or somewhere in the building with my friends, until we get kicked out by a teacher. I sometimes do homework at lunchtime, but only if it’s absolutely necessary. 

Schools aren’t meant to let people do this, but I dropped Maths at the end of year ten after getting an A* in the GCSE. For a while I messed around doing nothing for four hours a week, and then I started teaching myself a different Latin GCSE.

Some lessons are still terrible, and some of the teachers are too. There are some who will go on for hours in a really interesting way about something related to their subjects every week in their lessons, and you’ll get to the end of the year and realise none of it’s on the spec, which is rubbish. 

Some teachers act like they’re students and don’t teach anything. Some teachers are crazy and inappropriate. If I genuinely think one of them will have a detrimental effect on my GCSE results and those of the rest of the class, I normally complain about them. I still have to sit through their lessons though; it made no real difference in practice.

I really like my history lessons because they’re always really fun. The teacher’s really laid back so we did loads of stuff like throwing eggs at maps to represent nuclear bombs, which is great. It does mean I end up doing loads of work for history outside school though, because we don’t do all that much in school.

Emily564 says:

A typical day for me would include setting my alarm for 7:00 but not actually dragging myself out of bed for another 20 minutes. 

Shower, breakfast, getting dressed etc. and then leaving my house at around 8:15. I'll usually arrive 15 minutes later and spend 20 minutes chatting and gossiping with friends before school starts at 8:50. 

Daily difficulties included trying to keep up with the work and revision and not leaving it all to do last minute. I got on with pretty much all of my teachers and actually had a laugh and a joke most of the time with a couple of them. 

However, I definitely didn't get on with my maths teacher. I didn't like being in his class and time dragged so much when I was there. I found the work generally okay and didn't struggle with much of it, but did find there was a lot. I pretty much enjoyed most of my classes but really hated maths and physics.

In the evening I would usually go for a run, I found this really helped to lower my stress levels.