GCSEs in Northern Ireland: Everything you need to know about choosing your options

This article was first published in January 2019

Is it time to choose your GCSE options? Watch our film for everything you need to know about taking your exams in Northern Ireland!

Teacher Paul Porter explains everything you need to know about GCSEs in Northern Ireland before choosing your subjects.

So, let’s recap:

Which GCSE options are compulsory?

You will take at least five subjects, including English (Language and/or Literature), Maths and Science. Science may be split into the three separate subjects (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) or taken as a Double Award GCSE.

It is compulsory to study Religious Education up until the end of Key Stage 4, although your school will decide whether you need to sit a GCSE in it or not.

Some specialist schools may also require you to take other subjects, like Gaeilge. Check with your teachers to find out what rules your school has.

How will my GCSEs be marked?

You will receive a grade from A* to G when the examining board is the CCEA. If you take exams with English exam boards like AQA, OCR or Edexcel you will receive grades from 9 to 1.

Can I take a vocational qualification or apprenticeship?

You can! You can do take vocational qualifications in addition to your GCSEs. The kind of courses on offer will depend on your school, so you should ask your teachers about the vocational pathway you are interested in.

Can I resit my GCSEs?

Yes, you can resit a subject to try and get a better grade. You can resit a subject once, whatever your grade. Resit exams take place in November, January, March and June. Speak to your teacher if you would like to know how to resit a certain subject.

You can also request a re-mark of your exam paper, however be aware that your grade can go down or up and a small fee may be charged. Your school or college must request this on your behalf, so speak to them if you'd like your work to be re-marked.

Which GCSEs should I take?

This is really down to a combination of things, including your own interests, which optional subjects your school allows you to choose, and your future plans.

This is the first time you can focus on the subjects you like the most and feel you will do well at. Good luck!

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