General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs)

GCSEs are the main qualifications taken by 14 to 16 year olds, but are available to anyone who would like to study a subject that interests them. They can be taken in a wide range of academic and applied (work-related) subjects.


They involve studying the theory of a subject, combined with some investigative work. Some subjects also involve practical work.

They're available in more than 40 academic and nine applied subjects. The applied subjects are related to a broad area of work, such as engineering or tourism, and many are double the size of traditional GCSEs.

Young people can also take many GCSEs as short courses - these are equivalent to half a full GCSE, so can be taken in half the time.

GCSEs are graded A*-G and U (unclassified).

GCSEs are at levels 1 and 2 on the National Qualifications Framework, depending on the grade achieved.

Completing GCSEs at level 1 means a young person could move on to other courses or work-based training at levels 1 or 2.

Getting a GCSE can lead to a young person progressing to work, further study or an apprenticeship.

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