#UniShorts: 3 Tips for Making Informed GCSE Choices

When the time comes for Year 9 students to pick their GCSE choices, many of these pupils can feel a little stressed and worried about the process. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way! Check out these three concise and actionable steps that you can take to alleviate stress and make informed GCSE choices. 

If you want some more advice on relieving stress during the A-level subject choices process or the university admissions cycle, check out either this article or this one from our A&J Education website. 

  • Talk to your teachers and look over past syllabi 

Let’s say you feel pretty sure about most of your GCSE choices, but you still don’t know how to decide between Geography and History in your Humanities column (let’s imagine that you don’t want to take both), or between Music and Drama as your Arts-based option. 

One of the best ways to finalise these decisions and make informed GCSE choices that you feel confident about is to get in touch with your teachers at school and ask them to go through the course syllabus for the subject in question with you. For example, if you know that you’re particularly interested in the Second World War, you might find out that your GCSE History course has a whole semester dedicated to that topic, and this could sway your final decision.

By contrast, you might prefer learning about the more geological and physical aspects of Geography but could discover that the GCSE course at your school is a bit heavy on more human topics like population demographics and tourism. 

Take time to figure out which aspects of a particular subject you really enjoy, and go to the teacher of the subject in question ready to ask them a number of specific questions about the GCSE course. What types of assessments are there? How much emphasis is placed on coursework? If it’s History you’re looking at, how much of the GCSE course looks at Western 20th-century content? You might want to learn much more about other cultures, ancient empires, and vastly different historical eras instead. 

  • Consider the methods of learning that you find most useful

Following on from this idea of asking your teachers about the types of examinations you’ll receive on each course, you should also consider which methods of learning you prefer when it comes to school. This is a brilliant way to make informed GCSE choices when it comes to your final decision. 

For example, are you a visual learner, or do you prefer processing information that’s written down in articles, books, or textbooks? Do you love the idea of taking an active, physical role in your learning process? If you see yourself as a kinesthetic learner, consider the option of taking Drama, PE, Music, or Design and Technology. These subjects will allow plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning that gets students physically involved in whatever they’re doing. 

On the other hand, if you prefer reading text and taking notes on classes as your main method of learning, consider subjects like Economics, History, Geography, or Philosophy. These subjects tend to require you to sift through quite a lot of text-heavy content, whether this content is in textbooks or online journals. 

Take some time to figure out how you most like to learn and grapple with new concepts and ideas. This can be a really useful factor to consider when it comes to making your final GCSE option decisions. 

  • Try not to get too stressed about these decisions: it’s pretty simple to make informed GCSE choices

Finally, but very importantly, try not to get too stressed or overwhelmed when it comes to making your final choices. Remember that, whatever happens, you’ll have to take some core subjects like English, Maths, and the Sciences at GCSE level, so there’s no need to stress over those decisions. 

When it comes to picking the rest of your options, remember to consider the following factors: 

  • What you might want to study at university: think about the sorts of things you might want to go and study when (and if) you decide to head off to university or college, but don’t get too stressed out about this. For instance, if you’re really interested in the Humanities, consider picking History or Geography (or even both) alongside your compulsory subject of English to keep your options open. 
  • What you might want to study at A-level, IB, or Scottish Highers: again, just give a bit of thought to the type of subjects you might want to study for your final-year exams and courses when you’re deciding on your GCSE options. 

You can choose a wide variety of options when it comes to GCSE level, so it’s actually pretty simple to keep your options open as you move forwards into your A-level and university careers. To put it simply, don’t stress too much about your GCSE choices: this period of your academic career should be an exciting one, as you’ll have the opportunity to study pretty much any subject you choose, without having to worry about specifying or narrowing down your focus. Enjoy the freedom!

Final Thoughts 

Picking your GCSE options doesn’t have to be a stressful time, so bear these three tips in mind when it comes to making your final decisions: 

  1. Look at syllabi: talk to your teachers and see what specific topics you’ll be studying in each subject.
  2. Consider your own preferred methods of learning: think about how you like to learn and take in information when making your optional choices. 
  3. Don’t stress: you can take a wide variety of subjects at the GCSE level, so it’s easy to keep your options open while enjoying the academic freedom afforded by this process. 

If you want some more in-depth information on the GCSE, A-level, and university admissions processes, get in touch with our team of experts at A&J Education to book a free consultation today.

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