Your choices at 14

Choosing GCSEs: compulsory and optional

GCSEs are the main qualifications that young people do in key stage 4 (usually this is in Y10 and Y11 but some schools start in Y9).

You will be able to choose some of your GCSE courses but there are some compulsory GCSE subjects that everyone has to take.

GCSEs you have to do

Some subjects are compulsory at GCSE level and have to be taken by all young people. The compulsory subjects are:

  • English (English Literature and English Language or a single English GCSE)
  • Maths
  • Science (Combined Science or Individual Sciences)

Some schools make other subjects compulsory, so it is worth checking what you are required to do at your school.

Whatever you are planning to do in the future, it is now a requirement for you to retake both maths and English GCSEs until you obtain a Grade 4 or above.

GCSEs - Optional choices

Optional subjects vary from school to school but you should be offered at least one course in each of four groups of subjects…

  • Arts
  • Design and Technology
  • Humanities
  • Modern Foreign Languages

You don’t always have to choose one subject from each area, but remember that studying a range of subjects at this stage is useful so that you have a wider range of options for later study and career choices.

Different schools offer a different range of GCSE subjects from which you can choose. Because schools are not able to offer unlimited subject combinations, it’s possible that your choices may be limited. You will need to find out what GCSE subjects and combinations are available at your school.

You can find out lots more information about GCSEs here:

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