Choosing subjects for GCSE

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At a glance

Information about how and when your child chooses their GCSE subjects.

When are GCSE subjects chosen?

During Year 9 (ages 13-14) your child will choose which subjects to study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10 to 11, ages 14-16). These will be the subjects they will take for GCSE exams.

The school will give your child information about GCSE choices, but it will also be helpful if you discuss their choices with them. It’s important to choose subjects they find enjoyable, but also to keep a good balance.

Compulsory subjects

Some subjects are compulsory at GCSE level. These are:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science

Some schools have other compulsory subjects.

Optional subjects

Optional subjects vary from school to school. But your child must be offered at least one course in each of four groups of subjects, called ‘entitlement areas’. These are:

  • Arts (including art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts
  • Design and Technology
  • Humanities (history and geography)
  • Modern Foreign Languages

It’s not essential for your child to choose one subject from each area, but remember that studying a range of subjects at this stage is useful so that pupils have a wider base of options for later study and career choices.

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