Friday 24 September 2021

A Parents' Guide To GCSES


GCSE exams are taken by pupils at the end of their time at secondary school when they can study particular subjects in more depth than at primary school. They are an important first stepping stone to future career and study options, so choosing the right GCSEs is an important decision. To help you and your child understand what’s involved, here’s a guide from a secondary school in Kildare on choosing GCSEs and getting to grips with them. 


Choosing subjects


When it comes to picking their GCSEs, encourage your child to think carefully about a few things. First, they should consider the subjects they enjoyed at primary school and might like to explore further; it will be hard for them to feel motivated enough to study a subject for a couple of years if they’re not interested in it. Secondly, they should think about what they’re good at; playing to their strengths will increase the chances of progressing well in the subject and getting a good grade. Lastly, prompt them to think about the future and what A levels they’d like to study at college (and which GCSE subjects might be prerequisites for them). If your child is keen to explore an apprentice route instead, they might want to pick a range of subjects to keep their options open. 


Exams and assessment


Your child’s GCSEs will probably be assessed through a mixture of coursework and exams, and possibly practical assessments. If their GCSE requires an exam, this usually takes place in the summer, after a revision period, with results available in August. The grading system for GCSEs changed in 2014, with a numerical system replacing the previous letter-based one. GCSEs are now graded from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest grade and 1 the lowest. Pupils need a minimum of 4 for a standard pass and 5 for a strong pass. 


After GCSEs


After they’ve completed their GCSEs, your child will have a few options. They can choose to continue studying full-time, usually at college, to complete A-Levels or other equivalent qualifications. Alternatively, they can study for work and job-related courses like NVQs and BTECs. If they’re keen to get a taster of venturing into the world of work, they might prefer to undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship, training to do a specific job while working for an employer - this is great for children who are less academically minded and prefer to develop practical skills for a specific career path. They can also work or volunteer while studying part-time.

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