GCSE options: decisions, decisions!

It seems like only yesterday that they started secondary school. Now they have to choose what to study for GCSE! Piyush Gupta from Tutor Doctor gives some useful hints on how to decide

Many Peterborough students will soon have to decide which GCSEs to study. This can be overwhelming as there’s a wide range of subjects. It is important that your children have a good balance of subjects but also choose classes they will enjoy – after all, they have to study them for two years. Here are a few hints to help you discuss their choices with them.

Are GCSE options important?
The simple answer is yes! The optional subjects chosen in Year 9 will have an effect on decisions your child makes later on in life. It can also influence interests and potential careers they want to pursue. It is important that students choose a broad, balanced set of GCSEs, as well as picking subjects they will enjoy and excel in.

Core subjects
All schools have compulsory subjects that must be studied at GCSE level. One of the reasons for this is to ensure all students cover a range of basic subject areas so they are fully prepared for further learning and future work prospects. These usually include English, Maths and Science (Double or Triple Award). Some schools have other compulsory subjects, often relating to what area the school specialises in, e.g. languages.

● Optional subjects
These vary, with some schools offering more choice than others. Bear in mind that irrespective of how many subjects your child has to choose from, they will be offered at least one course in four subject areas: Arts (including Art and Design, Music, Dance, Drama and Media Arts); Design and Technology; Humanities (History and Geography); and Modern Foreign Languages.

● Vocational courses
If your child doesn’t want to choose a traditional GCSE, many schools now offer vocational qualifications that are a more practical way of learning. By their very nature these courses are more career orientated, so substituting a vocational course may be the right decision for some young people, though make sure the course matches your child’s career aims and academic ability.

Things to consider
● Higher education: Students that are already thinking about specific courses at college or sixth form should be aware that highly competitive subjects or programmes will be very interested in what GCSEs were studied. If this is the case, make sure your child checks beforehand whether any particular subjects are required.
● Research: Sitting down with your children and looking at the course material together is really important to help them make an informed decision. This means looking closely at what topics are covered in the syllabus and the type of exams involved. Different subjects also involve different learning styles. Get your child to pick something that complements their preferred learning style.
● Interest: It’s extremely important your child enjoys their GCSE subjects. Doing appropriate research is a great way to spark up interests and they will start to discover what excites them. It is also very easy for kids to get caught up in making decisions based on what their friends are doing or what teachers they like, but there is no guarantee on what teachers they will end up with.

Tutor Doctor Tutor Doctor offers tutoring services to all ages, levels and subjects. 01733 530461,

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