GCSE Art is a very non-academic subject, and creative people should sail through this course. Of course, this course can also be useful to academic people in giving them a more creative outlook, and broadening their area of study. You will need to know how to come up with unique concepts express your ideas well; you need to constantly use your imagination to create beautiful pieces of art; and basic art skills are essential. However, you will pick up many of these requirements during the course, and you will find that by the end you are much more creative than you were before, and you will have made pieces of artwork that you could not have dreamed of making before! Your skills will improve, and you will learn how to use many different mediums, no matter what your specialisation is.
You can specialise in the course, or do just a general one. General courses often involve the use of drawing, oil pastels, chalk, charcoal, paint, printmaking, sculpturing, photography, and even textiles! However, not all schools are able to offer the same facilities, so check with your art department for what they can offer. You may also be able to do a specialised course, such as pure photography, fine art (with the emphasis on more traditional methods of creating art), graphics or even sculptures!
The course is mainly focused on coursework across the main exam boards, and almost all the work you do over the two years will be submitted as part of your final portfolio. Even small studies, which you would not normally think of including, are included! Perhaps some work will not be included, but all of it just allows you to develop your skills, which is what the course's prime aim is. The coursework will not only be just paintings or drawings that you do in class, but can also include studies of artists applicable to the topic you are studying. It can even include research, supporting work, writing, in the form of a conclusion, and explanation/analysis of work you have done. Some schools require a sketchbook to be completed; sometimes called a 'critical study', this book needs to have as many different topics in it as possible, but they must all flow logically, and show progression. A word of warning: at the beginning of the course, you may feel like you have all the time in the world to do the coursework, and it can be very easy to forget about the long deadline and instead concentrate on the other pieces of coursework with a deadline closer to the current time. But don't. You don't actually have that long, and if you let it slip once, before you know it you can end up with a pile of work to be completed. Set yourself a certain amount of work to do a week, and stick to it: that way you should hopefully not be left working frantically on the last night before the deadline, at the end of Year 11. If you do feel yourself starting to let the assignments pile up, talk to your teacher and ask for help. It is never the end of the world, since quality always comes over quantity, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
You will also almost always have to sit a final examination. You are given around a month in preparation (although sometimes more), so you are able to get to know and understand the questions, choose one to complete, do preparation work (in the form of studies) and finally bring in items, if necessary, for the exam. This will normally take place well before the other exams that you have, so it is nice to know that while you are revising for the other exams, you will not have to worry about preparation for the Art exam. The Art exam can seem scary at first, because it counts for around 40% of the final grade. However, in reality, it is quite fun, since you get to spend about 10 hours working, undisturbed, on a piece of your choice. The time is spread over two days, which means that the night in between, you can analyse what you have done so far (but of course NEVER decide to 'start again'!).
If you are considering choosing Art as one of your GCSEs, do not be put off by the amount of coursework that needs to be completed, but at the same time do bear it in mind. It is a long-term commitment, and will need to be continuously worked on as you go, and cannot be done at the last minute. It is fun to study, and you will get to know many new people, as well as new ways of looking at things, but you will need to put in some effort! Finally, if you do choose to do this course, good luck!
There are two main art A Levels - 'Art and Design' and 'Fine Art'.
Scottish Standard Grade
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