Generally, colleges and sixth forms don't put requirements on their performing arts course(s) so it doesn't matter whether you do them at GCSE or not.
Unlike GCSE, A-Level explores different drama practitioners who have their individual style of theatre and directing. On my course, we mainly study Stanislavski and Brecht; two completely contrasting practitioners whose works can be used simultaneously to create a natural piece of drama that also comments on the social and political environment in which it's set
Aside from the things you learn, drama is a fantastic way of being able to relax from other subjects. Whilst the A-Level will include a written element, it's quite creative and asks you how you would direct a performance. You also develop your social skills through the multiple games you will doubtlessly play
I always look forward to my drama lessons, and not just because I want to pursue acting as a career choice. You tend to find that people who take drama will have a stronger friendship, and whilst my drama friends aren't in my close circle of friends who I hang around with 24/7, they are the sort of people I have no issue with if I want to discuss personal matters, or have a debate with
My course is with AQA, so here's a breakdown of what we do:
How we would direct/stage/perform/rehearse 2 plays (We were set Othello and Frankenstein) and how your directing decisions link to the theme of 'Heroes and Villains'
How we would direct 'The Crucible' - This exam is really easy because we're given a piece of script and all we have to do is annotate it!
Whole class performance of a play (We're doing 'Our Country's Good)
Devised group performance (part of the coursework)
Portfolio on the devised performance - how we developed the piece, themes of it, why we did things
Research report on Stanislavski and Brecht
Commentary on practical work done in lesson, relating to Stanislavski, Brecht, the devised performance, and a play that we focused on as a class
You don't have to be the world's best actor to take drama. It's about being creative with your ideas and you'll develop your acting skills on the course anyway. I'd recommend taking it because a creative subject can really help when stressing about more academic subjects (I also do history and politics)