Students in Year 9 are approaching a time in their school life when they have some important decisions to make – what options to choose for GSCE. They will be studying these options for the next two years and should they choose subjects they don’t really like, the chances are that their disinterest will impact their grades.
Before making any decisions, it might be worth considering these questions first:
- Which subjects do they like the most?
- Which subjects are they predicted to do well in?
- What do they want to do after completing their GCSES? (e.g. college, apprenticeship, university, employment)
What they choose now may impact which options are available to them further down their studying/career path. If they want to study certain subjects at A-level, they may need to have a GCSE in the subject first. To apply to certain university courses, they’ll need certain A-levels. Whilst starting work may seem a long way off, the subjects they study now can make a real difference to their future.
What are their choices?
In reality however, there aren’t that many subjects that they can choose independently. All students have to study maths, English and science. The other subjects they can take depends on what their school offers. Subjects thereafter are usually blocked as follows:
- Arts (such as music and drama)
- Design and Technology
- Humanities (such as history and geography)
- Modern foreign languages
Some schools teach new subjects such as law, sociology, or media studies. They may also offer vocational qualifications or Technical Awards. These subjects can help them develop practical skills in subjects such as construction and childcare, for example.
What do they need to consider?
Whilst thinking about which subjects they may want to choose, consider which subjects they are good at, are interested in or really enjoy. Find out how courses are marked. If they don’t like exams, they may want to choose subjects which include coursework, such as art or drama. Do they like essay type exams or more questions and answers? This often helps students decide between history and geography.
Ask the school to give you the list of topics in the curriculum to get a flavour of the course.
If your child is trying to choose between two subjects, think about how each option fits with their other GCSEs. Does a subject go well with their other choices? Or does a subject provide a welcome change?
Who can help?
Although you, and your child, have to make some big decisions when choosing your options, the key is to make sure you gather as much information about the subjects as possible so that you are making informed decisions. Talk to a range of people to get different views.
- Speak to older students and staff at school. There will be a key member of staff to refer to, to help you make informed decisions
- Talk to family members
- Look out for special options assemblies or evenings at school
- Speak to a careers adviser
Deciding options shouldn’t be done hastily, this is the foundation of the rest of their studies/career. Take the time to consider what is best for them.
If your teenager needs any help with getting the best out of studying and discovering their learning style, read more about my Discovery Session