GCSE Subjects and Contents


GCSE courses span 2 years and at the end of each year, students sit for exam. The passing grades, from highest to lowest are: A*, A, B, C, D, E, F and G.
• GCSE is a part of the National Qualifications Framework. A GCSE with grades lying between A*-C is a level 2 qualification while with grades between D-G qualify for level 1.
• Failing students are awarded U grade and due to non-completion of certain components of the course, a student can be awarded X grade as well.

Among the numerous subjects offered in GCSE, the Basic compulsory core subjects are:
• English
• Mathematics
• Science (students can study Science in many different ways)


In a number of subjects, two different tiers of education are available:
• Higher, where students can achieve grades A*-D
• Foundation, where they can achieve grades C-G
In case of any failure to obtain a G grade (at Foundation level) or D grade (at higher level), a student is awarded a U grade or an E grade respectively. In non-tiered subjects, such as History, attainment of grades is solely decided by the examination paper. Any coursework component also allows candidates to achieve any grade.

GCSE Mathematics was changed from a 3-tier system (2006) – Foundation (grades D-G), Intermediate (grades B-E) and Higher (grades A*-C) – to the standard 2-tier system – Foundation (grades C-G) and Higher (grades A*-D).

Future Studies

Five or more A*-C grades (inclusive of English & Mathematics) is often a necessity for taking A-levels in the school sixth form, at a sixth form college or at a college pursuing higher education (after secondary school). Choice of subject at A level is affected by courses taken at secondary school and are largely determined by them. More often than not, a C grade is a must. Most universities typically require a C or better in English and Mathematics, irrespective of student’s performance at A-level or Foundation Degree course (after leaving school). In a case of failure to obtain C in Mathematics & English, a student may have to retake the GCSE examination

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