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Understanding GCSE's - resources

(16 Posts)
AdrenalinBrush Sun 25-Aug-19 09:21:34

DC is going into year 9 and I think the way things are going, they will be doing at least 1 early GCSE.

As a parent I would like to start acquainting myself with the in's and out's of GCSE's so I can help my DC choose and go through the process.

For example, I need to understand the system, how long they take, how the points work, how they affect A'levels and also how to plan to revise, schedules etc.

Not trying to be a pushy parent or anything. I just feel that I need to do some research so I can better support my DC in the process.

Can anyone recommend some resources? Are there any forums?

OP’s posts: |
Arewedone Sun 25-Aug-19 10:17:46

First find out the exam boards your school will use then go onto the exam board website, it’s all there!
Course content, mark schemes , boundaries etc.
Lots of schools use different exam boards for different subjects so you may find you need to check 2 or 3 ! ( Edexcel, AQA, OCR etc)

Grumpyoldpersonwithcats Sun 25-Aug-19 10:22:08

WH Smiths sell exam work books by exam board and subject. They are pretty good at showing what's expected.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 25-Aug-19 13:56:47

I would be wary of early GCSEs universities dislike them they credit the best 8 GCSEs all taken at the same time.
If your DC has yet not chosen options you are likely to have lots of information come from school in the next year about structure of courses etc.

AdrenalinBrush Sun 25-Aug-19 14:20:00

Lonecat, that's interesting. This is the kind of thing I want to familiarise myself with. My DS1 is very academic and I think they will encourage him to do at least one early. I don't even know why they do this.

I have 2 very academic DC and I want to make sure I know what is going on. One thing I have learned is not to 100% trust what the school says.

OP’s posts: |
clary Sun 25-Aug-19 14:31:34

Yes I agree, it's not a good idea to take GCSEs early, universities don't like it and IME students get poorer results.

To answer your other questions, GCSE exams take about a month, from mid May to mid June, depending on which options you choose.

They are graded 9-1, 9 is an excellent grade, Oxford looks for grades 7-9, a 4 is a standard pass, needed for post 16 places.

Schools vary but most want 5 X grade 5 or above with perhaps a 6 in the chosen A level subject.

The best way to revise is to start in yr 10 and keep it up as you go along, esp with content heavy subjects like Eng lit, history or geography.

Do you have any specific questions?

PeriComoToes Sun 25-Aug-19 19:15:30

Are all GCSEs graded by number now? A relative had her results relayed to me as As, Bs C plus (she is UK, South) so slightly confused (I am old so perhaps it was though I wouldn't 'get' the number system)

Arewedone Sun 25-Aug-19 20:12:48

Not it is still possible some exam boards using the old system!

Frlrlrubert Sun 25-Aug-19 20:36:59

Most schools hereabouts start content for some GCSEs, like sciences, in year nine.

School website should tell you what courses they follow. You can download the syllabus/curriculum from the exam board websites.

Good luck.

stucknoue Sun 25-Aug-19 20:42:22

Be aware that many universities only accept GCSEs taken over 12 month period therefore one year early maximum. It's because part of the difficulty of GCSEs comes from taking all the subjects at once, taking 2 per year over 5 years (which a home schooling family of my acquaintance has done isn't the same, most kids can be hot housed in one or two subjects!

There's lots of material online these days, but you need to wait for the school to tell you the board and you need him to learn the material before revision guides become useful. At the moment just do extracurricular activities to broaden his horizons, certainly don't build the stress yet

Leeds2 Sun 25-Aug-19 20:58:48

If your DS gets any choice in the matter, I would recommend that if he has to do a subject early, he chooses one that he has no intention of doing for A Level.

clary Sun 25-Aug-19 21:41:15

iGCSEs can still be letter grades but no state schools do them any more, only private schools, and this year even private schools offering iGCSE could opt for number grades I gather. Wales is still letters I think.

Otherwise English state schools will all be number for virtually all subjects (only languages such as Arabic are still to switch).

Bimkom Mon 26-Aug-19 00:01:52

To add a bit of disagreement to the consensus here, I would say that I can see the point of doing one or two GCSEs early, although I would not be so keen for subjects that your DC would want to take for A Level. My DS did two early (admittedly under the old system, that was easier). And yes, at least in one subject, he only got an A, whereas he might well have got an A* (or 8/9 in new currency) if he had done it a year later.
BUT I think the experience of taking these GCSEs early was a key part of pushing him to really start working in Year 11, andso he hit the ground running come last September. I firmly believe that this had a lot to do with the fact that in the subject in which he got an A, he got borderline C/B in his mock in December of Year 10, which shocked him into starting to work hard - which then pulled his final result up to a very strong A, although not quite the A* he wanted. I think the whole experience was maturing, and meant that he was far more ready for the GCSEs this past year - where he took nine at one sitting, so enough for any university, in the subjects that he would want them to count (maths, English, science etc).
So I am actually a bit frustrated that his school has now changed its policy, and won't let DD take any early., because I think it would be an eye opening experience for her, and set her up much better for Year 11 than not doing it that way.

AdrenalinBrush Mon 26-Aug-19 09:42:31

Why is that Leeds?

I'm finding this really useful. These are the things I need to know.

OP’s posts: |
Seeline Mon 26-Aug-19 10:12:42

I presume if a GCSE is taken a year early, then the student then stops studying that subject for the next year to concentrate on remaining exams. If they wanted to do that subject at A level, it would be quite difficult to pick it up again after a years break, particularly if they have moved onto a college setting where other students may have only just taken their exams in the subject.

clary Mon 26-Aug-19 10:54:48

yy what seeline says, especially iritis asunder like MFL or maths or music where it is skills based and learned in a linear fashion. You'd just forget it. Not such an issue with history maybe (totally different topics for A level) but still not ideal.

Just as an example, my DD took GCSE French, the exams for that are always early (mid May) and she thought she was done with the subject - but in the end she chose it for A level. She says it was tough to go back to in Sept even after a four month gap (she had not bothered to keep it up as she had planned to do music) so I imagine a one-year-plus gap would be really difficult.

Also you are likely to get a lower grade in an exam sat earlier, obviously, so that's another reason not to do A level choices early.

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