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top tips on picking gcse's

what are your top tips on picking gcse's? what factors influenced your decisions?

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Reply 1
I remember it was towards the end of year 8 and my sister told me to pick art instead of photography and geography instead of history. Ask yourself these questions. Do you never wanna do history or geography again. Do you never wanna do art or photography again.
Hmm, it's probably things like (in no particular order):

1. Subjects you enjoy and have a great interest in.
2. Subjects you think you can do well in (grades).
3. Subjects that your future career could benefit from if you have something you want to pursue.
Original post by Bwak
what are your top tips on picking gcse's? what factors influenced your decisions?


What subjects are you good at?
What subjects are you interested in?
What do you want to study for A-levels/uni?
What is your dream job?
Original post by Bwak
what are your top tips on picking gcse's? what factors influenced your decisions?

Pick subjects you enjoy and are good at. Note you do not need a MFL for uni unless you plan to study languages. There is no rule that you have to take History or Geography - ignore the Ebacc - it isn't needed.

Look at the specification and the style of question paper.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 5
Hey! Current year 12 (almost 13) here.

I would suggest that you:

- pick something you enjoy. - If you don't enjoy a subject, you would lose interest and motivation to study for it and wouldn't want to continue.

- DONT BE INFLUENCED TO PICK A SUBJECT! A lot of students i know have picked subjects just because their friends have picked it and want to be in the same class etc. This goes back to my first point on doing what you want and love, and at the end of the day, your friend isn't going to sit the exam - it's only you.

- Ask teachers and friends who teach the subject - Asking people who have already experienced the subject helps you get an idea of what you're signing up for, and if the subject interests you, and is for you. This helps if you're studying something that you haven't done before, like GCSE psychology or sociology for instance.

-Be realistic - if you know that certain things aren't your strong point, don't pick it unless you truly think you will do well. For example, if you know your strong point isn't essays, do not pick history. Unless you are truly passionate and know you can improve, you may have a tough time getting to grips with the subject.

- See what you might want to do in the future. I know this may be very early, and knowing what you want to do in the future is a big thing - if you don't know yet, that's completely fine! You have plenty of time to decide. If you do, that's great also. If you want to do a degree relating to art in the future, it would be smart to pick art now at gcse, which then can be done at A level and so forth.

I am currently studying A Level Biology, Psychology and Sociology. I chose GCSE Geography, Business, Spanish, Double Science, and BTEC construction. Happy to answer any questions : )
Reply 6
Original post by lilalzz
Hey! Current year 12 (almost 13) here.

I would suggest that you:

- pick something you enjoy. - If you don't enjoy a subject, you would lose interest and motivation to study for it and wouldn't want to continue.

- DONT BE INFLUENCED TO PICK A SUBJECT! A lot of students i know have picked subjects just because their friends have picked it and want to be in the same class etc. This goes back to my first point on doing what you want and love, and at the end of the day, your friend isn't going to sit the exam - it's only you.

- Ask teachers and friends who teach the subject - Asking people who have already experienced the subject helps you get an idea of what you're signing up for, and if the subject interests you, and is for you. This helps if you're studying something that you haven't done before, like GCSE psychology or sociology for instance.

-Be realistic - if you know that certain things aren't your strong point, don't pick it unless you truly think you will do well. For example, if you know your strong point isn't essays, do not pick history. Unless you are truly passionate and know you can improve, you may have a tough time getting to grips with the subject.

- See what you might want to do in the future. I know this may be very early, and knowing what you want to do in the future is a big thing - if you don't know yet, that's completely fine! You have plenty of time to decide. If you do, that's great also. If you want to do a degree relating to art in the future, it would be smart to pick art now at gcse, which then can be done at A level and so forth.

I am currently studying A Level Biology, Psychology and Sociology. I chose GCSE Geography, Business, Spanish, Double Science, and BTEC construction. Happy to answer any questions : )


Hello! Thank you for your answer, it was very helpful. I'm currently going into year 9, so I'm not making the decision just yet, however I wanted to get ahead on it as I overthink a lot. You did a lot of subjects that I'm interested in studying, so I was wondering if you could take the time to answer some of my questions?

Firstly, what do you have to do in your Spanish exam? I'm fluent, and my first language is Spanish, so I've already taken my Spanish A-level, however I'm also taking the GCSE exam in year 9, and I don't know much about it.

Also, since you've studied both geography and business, what would you recommend taking? Obviously I don't know much about studying business, but I already know a lot about it because my dad has forced me to learn the basics, he wants me to take it. On the other hand, my mum and geography teacher want me to take geography, and not to brag, but I am very good at geography, and I mostly enjoy it. In the future I would love to study medicine or law, although I'm not sure that affects my decision. I'm definitely torn on what to choose, and I'm being pressured into choosing two different subjects.

What should I do?

Btw, thank you again for helping me, it is very much appreciated :smile:
Reply 7
Original post by Bwak
Hello! Thank you for your answer, it was very helpful. I'm currently going into year 9, so I'm not making the decision just yet, however I wanted to get ahead on it as I overthink a lot. You did a lot of subjects that I'm interested in studying, so I was wondering if you could take the time to answer some of my questions?

Firstly, what do you have to do in your Spanish exam? I'm fluent, and my first language is Spanish, so I've already taken my Spanish A-level, however I'm also taking the GCSE exam in year 9, and I don't know much about it.

Also, since you've studied both geography and business, what would you recommend taking? Obviously I don't know much about studying business, but I already know a lot about it because my dad has forced me to learn the basics, he wants me to take it. On the other hand, my mum and geography teacher want me to take geography, and not to brag, but I am very good at geography, and I mostly enjoy it. In the future I would love to study medicine or law, although I'm not sure that affects my decision. I'm definitely torn on what to choose, and I'm being pressured into choosing two different subjects.

What should I do?

Btw, thank you again for helping me, it is very much appreciated :smile:


That's alright :smile:

So I was part of the COVID year, and so I never actually sat the GCSE but did smaller tests instead. But, we were set papers anyway for revision in preparation for the actual exam. since you are already fluent, AND did the a level, gcse spanish would be very easy for you, since A level Spanish is pretty difficult. as a native English speaker, with no prior Spanish knowledge I managed to pick up a 9 at gcse with structured revision. the exam is split into parts. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening. in the reading, you are asked to read a passage and translate it into English or Spanish depending on what it tells you to do, and may ask you questions about the scenario. writing is when they give you a certain topic to write about - for example, 'write a letter to your friend about a recent holiday 'or something like that. listening is when you listen to a recording of someone speaking Spanish and are asked to translate things by writing it down and answering questions. speaking is when you are given a topic to speak about and have small preparation time to then talk about it with the examiner in almost a role play type situation - I did the exam board edexcel, so if you are doing something different I suggest typing up on Google some past exam papers just to see what the exam would look like and what they would ask. as long as you know adjectives, your tenses, and grammar you should be fine :smile:

I'm going to be brutally honest, I found gcse business quite boring at times. its very simple knowledge that is applied into questions and as long as you know hoe to structure your essays and remember the keywords, you should be fine. you learn things like how to be a good entrepreneur, business risks, and things like that. personally business (along with spanish) were my easiest gcses. geography can also be a bit boring too but if you have passion for it and power through, you should be just fine as long as your remember certain processes like erosion etc, and can link questions to studies. for business and geography i also did edecxel. and like I said above, search up past exam papers for your exam board so you can see what they will ask you.

sit back, and put your parents thoughts to the side. is business/geography something you want to do? do you find passion for it? from what it seems, I think geography would be something you might like, but you know yourself better than anyone so have a good think about it. from my knowledge law and medicine do not require specific gcses when applying to university - as long as you get good grades you should be fine, but its good to research before hand, but from my knowledge, it doesn't matter whether you pick geography or business - just make sure you enjoy it otherwise your grades can easily drop.

Good luck on deciding!
Original post by Bwak
what are your top tips on picking gcse's? what factors influenced your decisions?


Heya! I would recommend picking subjects you enjoy/ think you will enjoy, will do good at and are curious about. I had no idea what I wanted to do for GCSEs and I was curious about biology and chemistry so I picked sciences. Years later and I'm still sticking to the sciences because I fell in love with chemistry and biology since GCSEs (doing pharmaceutical now) :smile:

Also as others suggested, think about what you want to do in the future at a level and career-wise. Which career sector do you see yourself in the future?
Hope this helps!
Milena G.
UCL PFE
Study Mind
Original post by Bwak
what are your top tips on picking gcse's? what factors influenced your decisions?

Hey! I sat my GCSEs not too long ago, here’s my options process:
I chose options twice- at the end of year 8 and the middle of year 9. Bearing in mind we couldn’t do History, Geography or MFLs in year 10 unless we had done it in year 9, I chose History, Geography and French the first time. In year 9, I decided that medicine was something I wanted to do and nearly did Triple Science. On speaking to my teachers, they said I could do Medicine with combined and didn’t have to have triple (for us, everyone does combined unless you pick triple as an option). I was also considering statistics and when I spoke to both the science staff and stats staff, stats seemed like the best choice- transferable to most careers, good for A Level maths and most importantly, contributed to medicine. I knew I didn’t want to do history but wanted to keep geography and French (geography is more sciencey (not a word but oh well) than history and French was a subject I’ve always enjoyed).
Obviously the options process is different for everyone but that’s my experience and my takeaways would be:
Pick subjects that you enjoy- you’ll put more effort into them and be more likely to revise more if you enjoy them.
Pick subjects, as others have said, that contribute to what you’d like to do in the future- avoid “closing doors” or making life more difficult for yourself by picking subjects you feel you’d like to study at A Level.
Look at the spec- if you find something you’re really interested in, it’ll make you work harder towards it and give you something to look forward to!
Finally- make sure your subjects are subjects that YOU want to do: don’t be overly influenced by friends or teachers you may have (it’s probably not guaranteed that you’ll have them). By all means, speak to friends about options but don’t pick it solely based on the fact you may be in the same class. Learn about the subjects from teachers- they’re the best people to tell you about a subject, they teach it after all!

Good luck and feel free to ask any further questions, I’m happy to help! :smile:
Original post by Bwak
Hello! Thank you for your answer, it was very helpful. I'm currently going into year 9, so I'm not making the decision just yet, however I wanted to get ahead on it as I overthink a lot. You did a lot of subjects that I'm interested in studying, so I was wondering if you could take the time to answer some of my questions?

Firstly, what do you have to do in your Spanish exam? I'm fluent, and my first language is Spanish, so I've already taken my Spanish A-level, however I'm also taking the GCSE exam in year 9, and I don't know much about it.




There is no point in take the GCSE if you've already got an A level.
Not sure if I’m bumping a dead thread or not here, if I’ll be honest, but TSR’s system emailed me this thread to respond to so I better had, particularly as it actually got it right for once regarding a thread I can actually partake in.

I only got to pick 2 GCSEs since I was in top set Spanish, but I ended up picking History and Computer Science: History is a passion of mine and useful to the career I wanted at the time (and is still fairly useful to the one I want now); and Computer Science was a weird choice on the face of it but it was my strongest subject (somehow).

The best tips I can give are:
- Don’t pick a subject because the teacher’s good. In fairness, at my school the teacher’s energy was Music’s USP. He got people good grades, but he left after my year group departed Year 11.
- If you’re considering Sociology, pick something else. This was the advice given to me as everything you cover in GCSE is taught in the first unit of A-Level. I eventually didn’t pick the subject for A-Level.
- Play to your strengths and pick what will help you in Sixth Form. This is probably the most important one on this list. You should be looking at Sixth Form entry requirements already and taking the GCSEs that will get you on the course you want.
- Pick what you enjoy. 2 years is a long time, and will probably dictate the 2 years afterwards in A-Level and further if you go onto uni.
Original post by Bwak
Firstly, what do you have to do in your Spanish exam? I'm fluent, and my first language is Spanish, so I've already taken my Spanish A-level, however I'm also taking the GCSE exam in year 9, and I don't know much about it.

If you already have an A level in Spanish then this is totally pointless - the only possible benefit is to your school.

Who advised you to take the A level below Year 9 when you hadn't taken the GCSE? Madness.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by EBluebear
If you already have an A level in Spanish then this is totally pointless - the only possible benefit is to your school.

Who advised you to take the A level below Year 9 when you hadn't taken the GCSE? Madness.


Exactly what i was thinking. Whoever decided for you to do A-level before Gsce and now want you to do Gsce is mad
Original post by Bwak
what are your top tips on picking gcse's? what factors influenced your decisions?


Hi @Bwak

Pick what you enjoy! Generally the subjects you enjoy will be the ones you get the best grades in and vice versa. Most people don't have a clear career goal in mind when picking GCSEs and that is completely fine. Most a level courses are also relatively flexible in terms of GCSE subject requirements they are mainly based on grades, and actually if you know you want to do geography at a level for example and this requires a GCSE in geography you almost certainly want to do geography already!

People can change their minds wildly in terms of career aspirations and interests, so getting a good set of results and enjoying the subjects you study will do you much better in the long term than analysing every possible route of a levels and further education.

I was lucky enough to be able to pick three creative subjects (and history), and although I initially felt discouraged, I am so glad I stuck with my gut and picked the subjects I was passionate about!

Yasmin (Lancaster University student ambassador)
(edited 1 year ago)
At the time my decisions were largely based on the constraints of what was offered by my school, and that my mum demanded I do an MFL subject.

In retrospect, GCSE subject choices are completely irrelevant basically, so choose whatever you want and/or think you'll get good results in. The only subjects that aren't required which are necessary to continue to the A-level are languages, so bear that in mind. Some sixth forms may require you take e.g. history or geography before continuing to the A-level but this is purely an internal requirement and there is nothing in the A-levels syllabuses of those or other subjects which assume knowledge of the GCSE.

The other thing I would advise is to be mindful of what the actual content is; my school was rather crafty in "selling" a couple of vocational subjects as "equivalent to 4 GCSEs" etc. Make sure if you take these it's because you actually want to take them for their content, not because you actually believe the school saying they're equivalent to 4 GCSEs (as for anything that does actually "count" GCSEs and results in that way, they won't be considered as such). In the end I took something I didn't really enjoy for that reason because I didn't really understand what I was getting myself in for!
Reply 16
Original post by Muttley79
There is no point in take the GCSE if you've already got an A level.


Hello. I didn’t really explain it properly but here we go. There is a point in me taking the GCSE because the “A-Level” isn’t eligible here in the uk. I took my B2.2 exam, which is run by the Spanish government but taken here in London. The point is to allow bilingual Spanish people to get the opportunity to go to university in Spain, as you need at least a B2.2 level. Because I’m very proficient and good at both reading and writing i took mine early. However this B2.2 level (which is equivalent to an A-level in the English qualification system) isn’t taken into account by universities, therefore it would make a lot of sense for me to then take my Spanish GCSE’s if I go to an English university, Hope that explains the point of taking it.
Reply 17
Original post by EBluebear
If you already have an A level in Spanish then this is totally pointless - the only possible benefit is to your school.

Who advised you to take the A level below Year 9 when you hadn't taken the GCSE? Madness.

Hello. I didn’t really explain it properly but here we go. There is a point in me taking the GCSE because the “A-Level” isn’t eligible here in the uk. I took my B2.2 exam, which is run by the Spanish government but taken here in London. The point is to allow bilingual Spanish people to get the opportunity to go to university in Spain, as you need at least a B2.2 level. Because I’m very proficient and good at both reading and writing i took mine early. However this B2.2 level (which is equivalent to an A-level in the English qualification system) isn’t taken into account by universities, therefore it would make a lot of sense for me to then take my Spanish GCSE’s if I go to an English university, Hope that explains the point of taking it. I don’t think my school is largely benefited by me taking it more than I am. No one actually advised me, it was my Spanish teacher, from my Spanish classes outside of school, that explained that it would be a good idea for me to take the GCSE if I want to go to a university in England. Hopefully it doesn’t seem too mad now :smile:
Reply 18
Original post by JosephJ1234
Exactly what i was thinking. Whoever decided for you to do A-level before Gsce and now want you to do Gsce is mad


Hello. I didn’t really explain it properly but here we go. There is a point in me taking the GCSE because the “A-Level” isn’t eligible here in the uk. I took my B2.2 exam, which is run by the Spanish government but taken here in London. The point is to allow bilingual Spanish people to get the opportunity to go to university in Spain, as you need at least a B2.2 level. Because I’m very proficient and good at both reading and writing i took mine early. However this B2.2 level (which is equivalent to an A-level in the English qualification system) isn’t taken into account by universities, therefore it would make a lot of sense for me to then take my Spanish GCSE’s if I go to an English university, Hope that explains the point of taking it. I don’t think my school is largely benefited by me taking it more than I am. No one actually advised me, it was my Spanish teacher, from my Spanish classes outside of school, that explained that it would be a good idea for me to take the GCSE if I want to go to a university in England. Hopefully it doesn’t seem too mad now.

In that case, I am mad. In reality, it just has to do with how things worked out. As I’ve mentioned above, because I’m more proficient than others in my class I took it pretty early, in year 8. My school allows bilingual students to take their GCSE’s a year early. I requested to do mine in year 9. That is how it has worked out, there was no other way. I want to have both of these under my belt as they are both useful in different countries/circumstances.
honestly just choose the subjects you think you’ll find most interesting as they are the ones that you’ll try hardest in ! it’s much easier to revise for a subject you find interesting and enjoy.

also don’t pick a subject just because your friends are doing it !! coming from someone who picked GCSE Spanish and barely scraped a 5 when i could’ve got a higher grade in a different subject, it’s really not a good idea. you can make friends with lots of new people in the subject you choose so don’t be led by your friends decisions.

remember to research the university requirements CLEARLY. it should be on the admissions statement for the course on their website. e.g when i was picking my subjects, my head of year told me i should choose Drama because it would make universities think i’m a confident person, when actually in fact they really do not have a preference for what GCSE subjects you choose, as long as you get the minimum required grades they’re asking for, e.g five grade 7’s.

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