GCSE is the abbreviation for the General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is an academically rigorous and internationally recognised qualification that secondary schools award in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. GCSEs are important if your child wishes to continue with A-levels and, ultimately, university, and you should not underestimate them. In this blog post, we explore the importance of GCSE exams and what to do if they don’t got as expected.
Colleges and GCSEs
Students take their GCSE exams over a period of two years, and they can determine the kind of sixth form your child will go to. Students’ GCSE performance is often a good indicator as to how well they will do in their A-levels or other advanced studies. Therefore, they will often be the only evidence of their assumed academic abilities a sixth form takes into account with the most selective colleges requiring up to six As a minimum.
Many colleges rely on scoring systems based on GCSE grades and use them to predict how well your child is likely to do and whether to accept them or not. The lower their GCSE grades, the lower their score, which could limit students’ college options. Knowing this now will push your child to do their best or brainstorm alternative options in advance.
Additionally, it is important to know that some colleges insist on A grades in the subjects your child is hoping to take for their A-levels. This, therefore, determines the qualifications they can pursue as certain subjects open or foreclose opportunities post-college. University engineering courses, for example, often require A-levels in Chemistry and Maths. This, in turn, means that your child will have had to have good GCSE grades in Science and Maths. Social work, nursing and teaching are other careers that require at least a C in Maths and English. A majority of C grades, however, may also result in a sixth form offering a vocational course like a BTEC qualification instead of A-levels.
Universities and GCSEs
However, it is not only colleges who make their choices based on students’ GCSEs. The majority of universities require at least a C in GCSE English, Maths and sometimes Science. Others may even ask for specific grades for specified subjects. A law degree at University College London (UCL), for example, requires Bs in English and Maths as well as a C in a foreign language. An Economics and Management degree at Kings College London (KCL) also requires a B in English. Other universities like Cambridge only have GCSE requirements for medicine and veterinary medicine, although Cambridge has, of course, implemented other rigorous admissions procedures.
So, although lower grades should not put children off applying to a university course they really want, this reinforces that GCSE grades matter beyond college. The recent A-level reforms could further result in universities increasingly relying on GCSE grades as A-level changes may result in uncertainty.
Apprenticeships and GCSEs
Apprenticeships could also require your child to have certain grades at GCSEs with advanced ones asking for approximately 5 GCSE grades ranging from A*-C, including English and Maths. Since this is not the case for all, it is always best to check with particular employers whilst still encouraging them to do their best.
What if GCSEs don’t go as expected?
If your child has not met the grades required, it is important not to panic. Firstly, contacting the college they applied to is an option to see if they will still accept them. Another route is to resit exams, although some universities may not accept GCSE retakes. Therefore, researching the course your child hopes to take is key to avoiding disappointment.
If you or your child are concerned about their upcoming GCSEs, Über Tutors staff are here to help. Every year we prepare students to sit these very important exams through our bespoke tutoring and mentoring service, which offers a chance at soaring grades and confidence.