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9 or 10 GCSEs?

(30 Posts)
kimlek Sun 18-Dec-16 20:48:10

My dd is due to choose her GCSE options over Xmas. The school has suggested she does 10 but there's also a 9 option. She's keen to do 9 as believes she'd obtain higher grades. It seems most children at the school take 10. I've heard that university DO look at GCSEs and also put a child's results in the context of the cohort at school. So I'm concerned that it would go against her if she does 9 and the majority of her cohort do 10. Her 9 are maths, English x2, triple science, Spanish, geography and history. She's no idea what she wants to do but obviously wants to get as high grades as poss. If she took a 10th it would be 'food and nutrition'. We have a meeting with the head of year in Jan to discuss but I'm interested to hear views in the meantime please? Thanks in advance

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Dec-16 21:01:13

No one will care about the difference between 9 and 10. They might care if she doesn't do well in the ones she does take.

bojorojo Mon 19-Dec-16 00:33:19

Food and nutrition won't add anything to the mix really although it is a technology which is otherwise missing. I would say for a full portfolio, she is short of an art too but lots of young people have no talent at art, drama or music so getting a low grade is not worth it.

My DD always felt that drama really has helped in her working life and indeed before that at university as she could 'perform' and was used to speaking in front of people.

TheMortificadosDragon Mon 19-Dec-16 00:47:37

Those 9 sound like a good mix. If there was another option she was keen to do then I'd encourage her - school isn't just about getting grades, its about learning stuff! But food and nutrition... not sure thats more useful than just learning to cook at home.

I may be wrong, but I don't think unis really worry about more than the best 8 or so, and the odd gcse grade here or there really isn't likely to be make or break unless its weak maths or English language.

DurdleDurdle Mon 19-Dec-16 01:01:45

I'd suggest 9 if that's what your DD wants to do.

kimlek Mon 19-Dec-16 17:33:07

Thank you every body. She's not interested or talented in art, music or drama. Having said that she's just started to learn the piano (outside school), as well as just started LAMDA this term (after school) as she comes across a tadge shy & quiet - I encouraged this & she's enjoying it more than she thought. But GCSE drama is a whole other level!!! She fancies history which is outside her comfort zone but if she wants to do this (unlikely to get an A) I think it's worthwhile as she'll learn analytical skills and improve her writing etc.

kimlek Mon 19-Dec-16 18:00:45

My comment revhistory & an 'A' sounded glib - I just meant that the reason to do 9 rather than 10 would be that she'd hopefully get better grades (i.e., As rather than Bs, or 7's rather than 5's etc).

nat73 Tue 20-Dec-16 21:54:25

Unless she thinks food and nutrition is key to her future career forget it. 9 better GCSES would be better

goodbyestranger Wed 21-Dec-16 08:25:14

I'd be all for 10. Drama sounds ideal and is a really good subject for slightly more reticent DCs. It will also get her out of the classroom setting. I can't for a moment imagine that the difference between taking 9 or 10 will have a significant effect on grades. Taking thirteen might, but not a single extra one and if most kids at the school take 10 then she'd have to have a good reason to take a step down from the norm. The advantage of Drama as the tenth is to get away from the ordinary classroom setting for a couple of periods a week, add in a creative subject and, as bojo says, a very different but very useful skill.

senua Wed 21-Dec-16 08:31:13

I agree with bojo.
What is DD thinking of doing for A Level, does she know yet?

LIZS Wed 21-Dec-16 08:32:58

Don't dismiss drama. A significant amount of it is essay and analysis based , as well as group performances. It seems tricky to do really well in though.

Hulababy Wed 21-Dec-16 08:47:15

Since the new GCSE came about, Most schools are now recommending 9 GCSEs so she certainly won't be alone in having 9.
Doing more doesn't really bring any real advantages when it comes to universities etc.

Aussiejazz Thu 22-Dec-16 16:35:07

Universities don't care about the number of GCSEs or, indeed, the subjects taken. They're only interested in grades. Nine is fine.

TheMortificadosDragon Thu 22-Dec-16 18:25:38

Thats not entirely true, I've seen a few uni course requirements specifying a particular gcse if the applicant hasn't done A level, and there are quite a few 'something with german' type things where the gcse is required. Not particularly relevant to the OP's question, but some gcse choices may leave more doors open than others.

catslife Fri 23-Dec-16 11:59:31

I think a lot depends on how they fit in the 10th subject. If they do this by reducing teaching time in other subjects, that can affect grades and isn't a good idea.
Also I would see if it's possible to start 10 subjects and drop down to 9 later in the course. That may be a way forward if one of her optional subjects isn't a good fit for her - you cannot always tell what a course will be like before you start.

TalkinPeace Fri 23-Dec-16 20:51:41


DD did 13 (part modular)
DS did 11 (all linear)

both my kids noted that the people who did fewer subjects got more A* under the current system

DS regrets not dropping one to get 2 more A* (rather than the A he got)

PossumInAPearTree Fri 23-Dec-16 20:55:44

Dd does 9. No option at her school to do 10 so I don't see how unis can judge kids on only doing 9 if that's all some schools offer.

sendsummer Sat 24-Dec-16 08:55:23

If the 10th subject was something that she really wanted to do then the decision might be harder but in her case 9 is eminently sensible and gives her time for extracurricular drama, debating or whatever would give her enjoyment and develop soft skills. I think it is great (and more important than one higher grade) to take one GCSE which is outside comfort zone subject though but she is doing that for history
Fortunately the days of misguided schools going for quantity rather than quality are numbered and parents using numbers of GCSEs taken as bragging rights for their DCs and schools Grades do count more. Obviously academic DCs with good memories and organisational skills can achieve 10 or 11 highest grades for GCSEs all taken in one year and some schools will continue to do this but a DC with 9 will not be discriminated against.

As an aside

sendsummer Sat 24-Dec-16 09:01:43

As an aside though a higher number of GCSE for subjects like drama is worth it when DCs would n't otherwise have the opportunity of subjects like drama, photography etc.

thisagain Sat 24-Dec-16 09:10:26

My DD is doing almost the same as yours - English Lit and Lang, Maths, Triple Science and 4 options - Spanish, Geography, Music and Dance. However she is only doing 10 because she opted for triple science and the rest of the school are doing 9. She wouldn't have wanted to drop one because wanted to fit in Music and Dance but for a child who is doing triple science therefore 9 GCSE's anyway I think it would be sensible if possible. A neighbouring school only allows 3 GCSE choices if doing triple science, for this reason.

kimlek Mon 26-Dec-16 04:32:52

Thank you for this everyone. She has absolutely zero intesterst in drama unfortunately. Albeit she's ok about recently starting LAMDA. I agree drama is a good one but it will definitely not be one of her GCSE options!
senua She has no idea what she wants to do for A level but I'm guessing it'll be Maths and maybe 2 sciences. I think her GCSE courses will dictate. Way too early to know.
nat73 She's no interest in doing food/nutrition as a career but fancies it as a GCSE if she has to do 10.
catslife the timetabling is based on the children doing 10 GCSEs and those that choose 9 have a study period instead, which if course will be invaluable and free up her weekends a little to either study deeper or do fun stuff such as her sports etc. I'll certainly ask the teachers regarding moving from 10 to 9 mid course.
possum UCAS send contextualised data to the universities regarding a child's grade compared to his/her cohort - apparently - and this is my concern. As there's talk of discontinuing AS levels Unis will rely more heavily in gcse grades (and possibly number?)
talkinPeaceI'm wondering how your DS/DD's friends who did 9 got on with higher education etc compared to your children please?
sendsummerAlthough DD is bright and very organised she hasn't got the best memory and if there's a number of exams on the same day as likely with linear GCSEs she could struggle especially if taking 10. I do think taking 9 will allow more revision time and more time to assimilate the information over the two years but I am concerned re the whole UCAS contextualising thing!
The school have said she's more than capable of taking 10 but they don't see how much effort she puts in at home!! I don't want it to be all about study but to have a life too! She's very diligent, hardworking and prioritises schoolwork so I can imagine it easily taking over!

PossumInAPearTree Mon 26-Dec-16 07:54:00

I never knew about the contextualised data. That's really interesting. Dd is predicted 9x As and Bs at a school where most kids don't pass even their maths and English. Truly awful school, dd hasn't had a science teacher for two years! So for her that's good news because ucas will see that most of her cohort have failed that majority of their exams (unless there's an unlikely miracle this year).

TheMortificadosDragon Mon 26-Dec-16 10:25:10

kimlek - I would think that without AS levels, unis will be having to rely more on A level predicted grades with gcses as corroborating evidence, plus interviews and in some cases their own tests (as already is now the case with oxbridge and high rated maths, medicine and vet) rather than closely scrutinising gcses beyond 8 or 9. If your DD is likely to be going to the science/maths side, then I'm pretty sure they'll want good grades in those subjects, a decent grade in English and then a spread of others which doesn't have to be perfect - a lot of very able science/maths people are not gifted at essay writing and languages.

You do have a point about hopefully not having too many exams on one day - DDs school was doing 11 (now dropped to 10), and she ended up with two days when she had 3 exams. Two of those subjects she was down a grade from her predictions - not sure it was memory so much as tiredness, she said she just couldn't physically write as much as she wanted for one paper. They were disparate subjects, maybe ones which the exam board wouldn't think too many would be likely to be taking in combination.

sendsummer Mon 26-Dec-16 11:08:43

Not so sure about relying on predicted grades when over 80% of A levels grades have been shown to be wrong (75% over predicted, mostly by state schools).

The current system favours self-perpetuating overinflated predictions by staff due to fears of not allowing a level playing field for a student's university offers compared to other students from schools.

sendsummer Mon 26-Dec-16 11:15:24

kimlek your DD if she has time to spare to learn, could always supplement her 9 GCSEs with a self study in computer studies or programming or some other facet of sciences or languages or just wider reading or an essay competition. Those all would certainly boost her learning and preparation for sixth form and university plus be something for her PS.

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