Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams

Studying in the UK means going through different types of qualifications starting from when you were a kid. There are different qualifications that you may take, and the first qualification that you will be taking in your school is GCSEs. But what are GCSEs and how can you master GCSEs?

Quick Takeaways

  • GCSEs are the very first qualification that you take in your school in the years 11 and 12. 
  • There are different GCSEs that you have to take which involve both easy and hard subjects. 
  • To master them you must study as soon as possible and must start revising for them at least 2-3 months before your exams. 
  • Start with creating flashcards and try keeping frequent breaks in the revision timetable. 

However, you must read till the end so that you do not miss any important facts related to mastering the GCSE qualifications.

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams


What are GCSEs?

GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. This test takes place in three different countries including England, Wales, and North Ireland. It is the first qualification that you will be taking as a student. GCSEs are mainly studied by students when they are of age 14-16 in the years 10 and year 11. You must only take GCSE if you want to stay in the same country in the future. However, if you are thinking of studying in some other country you must think of taking the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

The biggest difference between GCSE and IGCSE is that the course content that is studied in IGCSE is based on the international level whereas the content in GCSE is only for students studying in the UK. Now you must be thinking of when you will be having your GCSE exams.

Generally, your GCSE exams will be taken in the second week of May. However, it is not the same for every year, as each year the dates generally change. Thus if you want to know the exact dates from asking at the secondary school where you are studying. Also, these exams last for 5 weeks, and thus the end of the exam in the third week of June the result will come on the last Thursday of August each year. However, before it, you will also get mock GCSE tests in the classroom.

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams

One thing that you must know about GCSEs is that you can even take these qualifications as a private candidate or online. In it, you need to look for private tutors that can help you with the course content. There are many private schools by which you can take your GCSE qualifications. You must remember that these qualifications are important and never expires. So you must keep them in a safe place. However, there are chances that you may have lost the GCSE qualifications due to different reasons. 

When you lost your GCSE certification it may become hard for you. This is because they are too important for the university, college, and even for employers. Though the truth is that it is a small piece of paper and can be misplaced by anyone in the world. But you should not get worried as you can get it back from the board of which you gave the exam even if it is from years ago.

Types of GCSEs

There are generally two types of GCSEs that you may have to take- Foundation and Higher tier. The main difference between both the GCSEs is the maximum grades that you may receive on completing the exam. 

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • If we talk about the Foundation tier, the maximum grade that you will be getting is grade 5. On the other hand, if we talk about the higher tier, you can get a grade up to 9 which is the highest grade that you get for your GCSE. 
  • Furthermore, if we talk about the course content, the Foundation tier has much more easy content when compared to the higher tier. Due to this to pass the Foundation tier you need to score higher marks when compared to a higher tier.
  •  When you are taking up the foundation tier you will need to pass 70% of the paper whereas, for the higher tier, you only need to pass 30% of it. 

Many times you think that the content in the foundation tier is easy due to which you end up taking it up. However, with time you realize that it is one such subject that you enjoy studying and may want to change it towards a higher tier. But you may not be sure if you can change it or not. The good part here is that you can switch to a higher tier from the foundation tier. The simple procedure for it is to be in contact with the subject teacher. Your subject teacher will guide you about the procedure of how to change the foundation tier to a higher tier.

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams

What is the importance of taking up GCSEs?

Your GCSEs are the basic qualifications that you take as a student. They are the first qualifications that you need to take up as a student. Many people believe as they are the first and very basic qualifications, they will not play a crucial role in their future. But this is not true. They are important in every path of your life. It helps to understand how well you are in your academics and give you an understanding of what subjects are perfect for you. Not only it, but your GCSEs will also help you in getting into college, university, or even when you are applying for a job. Further, we have discussed each of the areas where your GCSEs will play an important role-

  • Colleges – There is no doubt when you go for your further education after completing your GCSEs will look at your grade. The colleges are the places where you may want to study your A-levels and based on your GCSEs you will be getting your A-levels. 
  • Universities – University is a place where you will be getting higher education. When you are applying to the university they mainly look for your A-levels, but this does not mean that they will not look at your GCSEs. Suppose a candidate got a score the same as yours in the A-levels, it will become difficult for the university to choose between both of you. This is the time when your GCSEs come into the picture. This means that your university will look at your GCSEs as well as your A-levels. Also, you must remember that is only grades that matter and attendance.
Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams

One such subject that most universities will look at is GCSE maths. This subject helps to develop various skills like problem-solving, creativity skills, etc. However, this does not mean that you can not get into the university without having GCSE Maths. You can choose different degrees like graphic designing, nursing, etc that do not involve Mathematics. However, if you think that you will be needing GCSE maths for your admission, you can even retake GCSE Maths at university.

  • Employers – Just like universities when you go for any job interview, they will be looking at your grades first. Every employer wants to know your capability and thus will look for the subjects you have taken during your A-levels and of course in GCSEs. Thus if you think that your GCSEs will not be considered when you are applying for the job, then you are wrong. 

How many GCSEs you can take?

As you know know the importance of your GCSEs, you must also know how many GCSEs should you take. The minimum number of GCSEs that you need to take depends upon your school. Usually, you will be asked to take between 9-10 GCSEs. There is no fixed number of maximum GCSEs that you can take up. You will need to take your GCSEs in the year 11.

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams

Some students even take up to 15 GCSEs but it all depends upon your learning capabilities. However, we will recommend you not take more than the number of GCSEs asked by your school. You must focus and work hard on the GCSEs that are asked by your school. 

One thing you must take care of while choosing the subject is that there are three such subjects that are compulsory to take i.e Maths, English and Science. You have to take these subjects no matter in which school you are in. Science despite being a compulsory subject to take up is one such subject that is not compulsory to pass. Each of these three subjects has different GCSE values which we have mentioned below-

  • English – (English Language- 1) and (English Literature- 1)
  • Maths – 1
  • Science – (single – 1), (double- 2), and (triple- 3)

However, there are chances that your school may have kept other compulsory subjects to study. So the subjects you may have to take will depend upon both you and the school’s regulations. When you are deciding on GCSEs, you must remember that you are choosing the right GCSE for you. Thus you must try to focus on some of the best GCSE subjects like Maths, Further Maths, Foreign languages, etc. Now you may be confused about how to choose which is the right GCSE for you. 

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • While deciding which GCSE you will have to study, the first thing that you should consider is your own capabilities. Every student has his/her own capabilities. Some of them may have a good focus on practical subjects others may love to study theoretical subjects. 
  • The next thing you must consider is which A-level you need to take up . Every A-level will have its own requirements depending upon where you are taking them. Thus you should make sure that you know which and how many GCSEs are needed for taking up the A-levels you want. Generally, you will need to have at least 4 GCSEs to take up A-level. 
  • Also, you must not get influenced by the decision of others. Remember that you need to study the subjects you have chosen. 

You must make sure that you are taking a mix of hard and easy subjects. This will help you in balancing your GCSE grades. Further, we have discussed both the easy and tough GCSEs for your better understanding. 

What are the hard GCSEs?

Given below is the list of the top 5 hardest GCSEs-

Mastering GCSEs Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • Science – When you think of taking science at the GCSE level, you need to take single, double, or triple sciences. Double and triple science include studying all three science subjects Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. However, when you take double science you will be studying less content than triple science. If you love science and want to make a profession in science, you may think of taking up triple science. 
  • Physics – Physics is one such branch of science that has not only involved theoretical concepts but also involve mathematical concepts. You may have to study complex questions related to energy, matter, etc. 
  • Foreign LanguageThis is one such subject that many schools keep compulsory for their students. In this GCSE you may have to learn a new language. The reason why this subject is hard is is because you will have to learn fully new content.
Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • Maths – Despite being a compulsory subject it is one of the toughest GCSEs that you need to study. This is because there are a lot of different mathematical equations, algebra, etc that you need to go through in this subject. When you are taking this subject it is important for you to know some of the best ways for revising the GCSE maths. If you want to get the GCSE maths result quicker then you should try to take the exam online. 

After knowing these hard subjects you may be thinking that all the GCSEs are hard. But are GCSEs really hard? Of course not! As discussed above when you are choosing the GCSEs, you must take care of your capabilities and the A-level you want to take. This means that there are different GCSEs that you can take up. So, while choosing your GCSEs, you must try to choose a mix of hard and easy GCSEs. Therefore below we have discussed the top 5 easy GCSEs for you.

What are the easiest GCSEs?

Given below is the list of the top 5 easiest GCSEs-

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • Music – Of course, this is the subject for those who love to play or listen to a different type of music. In this GCSE you will be getting both theoretical and practical knowledge related to music. In this GCSE you will also be giving the written exam.
  • Drama – It is one of the GCSEs that you can take if you are very creative or are interested in going on the stage. This GCSE is highly enjoyable and helps you give time to your other hard subjects. 
  • Geography – Most of the students try to have at least one humanities subject while choosing the GCSEs. This helps them to make a balance between their study time. One such commonly taken subject is Geography. It is not only the easy but also the most interesting subject. You will be studying Human and Physical geography in it. Also, the marking schedule is much easier than the other subjects. 
  • Media Studies – In this subject, you will be doing your research around various media-related tools like radio, TV, etc. This is a subject in which the marks depend upon 70% of the theory and 30% of the practical portion. 
Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • Business Studies – If you are interested in studying the basic concepts related to big business organizations, then this is the best subject for you just like A-level business studies. It will help you by giving you knowledge related to various business-related terms like operations, marketing, etc which may help you in becoming a logistician as well. The questions that you will be getting in the exams are based on common sense. 

When do GCSEs results come out?

Of course, after giving the exam you are interested in knowing when you will be getting the result of your GCSE exams. You will get your GCSEs results on the last Thursday of August each year. Of course, the date for getting the result will vary each year. When you will get your result you will see a mark equivalent on it. This mark equivalent depicts your grades in the current system when compared to the old system. Your current grading system is basically based on numbers i.e 9-1 (9 being the highest) and the old grading system is based on alphabetic order ( A*-G). On this result, you may also see P1 and P2 grades which means high pass and low pass.

The average score that most students get in their GCSEs is around grade 4. Grade 4 is also the basic passing grade for GCSE and thus is the average grade in GCSEs. Though it will depend upon the subject you have taken. It is because every subject has its own average grade. However further we have shown the average grades of various subjects-

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • Maths is 5.5
  • Combined science is 4
  • History is 4.9
  • English is 5
  • English literature is 5

You must also not confuse the average grade with good grades. Although most of the students will get grade 4, you must try to get at least 6 or 7. This is because getting grades between 6-7 is considered good grades. If you are getting grades below it, there is nothing to worry about it as every child is different and has his/her own qualities. Also, every subject has its own passing grade for each year. Remember to collect your result within a year as the school may send it back after it.

Of course, this makes all sense to know the passing grade of subjects like maths from the past years. Therefore before giving any GCSE exam, you must do proper research so that you must know what can be expected to pass for the current year and study accordingly. When you complete your year 11 or GCSES, you need to go for A-Levels. Although we have discussed almost everything about taking GCSEs, have you ever wondered what will happen if you miss the GCSE exam? Therefore further we have discussed what will happen on missing the GCSE.

What will happen if you miss the GCSE exam? 

Though you must not miss your GCSE exam, there could be several reasons like bad health, family issues, etc due to which you miss your GCSE exams. But what after missing it? There are two possibilities either you apply for special considerations and get a grade based on your coursework or you can resit for the exam. Resting your exams means that you will have to repeat the full year. You can also resit your exams privately through online exams and at any age. Many students think that not having GCSE qualifications will stop them from getting into college or university. So while filling out the UCAS application they think of lying in it. But you must not lie in the UCAS application because your university and the college look at your certificates as mentioned before. 

Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams

Thus even if you do not have good grades you must not lie about them in the UCAS application. You must try to get them by resitting for them. There may be chances that you may not be able to improve your grade even after resitting for them. But will it impact your final grade? If you have a score below the GCSE score that you get before, then you will be getting the previous score. But if you are deciding to resit again and again till you receive a good grade, you will be paying much more for it. Therefore you should start studying as early as you can and have a proper revision before the exam. 

When should you start Revising for your GCSEs?

Of course, you will not want to resit your GCSEs again and again. Thus you must study hard to get high grades in GCSEs and must do a proper revision of it. You must start your revisions at least two to three months before your final exam. To do a proper revision you must motivate yourself to revise for GCSEs. There are different ways by which you can revise for your GCSEs. Some of them are mentioned below-

  • Starting the revision as soon as you can.
  • Set up small goals and try to achieve them.
  • Keep small breaks in between so that your mind can have a proper rest.
  • Create flashcards for revising the subjects.
  • Try to practice your previous question papers. 
Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams

How many GCSEs do you need for different professions?

The following table shows the number of GCSEs that you need for different professions-

ProfessionMinimum Number of GCSEs

Although GCSEs are the main qualification that is used to take up for your further education, and getting a job. But it does not mean that you can not get a good job. 

Can you get high-paying jobs without GCSEs?

This is one of the biggest concerns, especially for the students who are homeschooling and not taking up GCSEs. Yes, there is no doubt that you can get high-paying jobs without GCSEs. Following are some of the high jobs that you can take without having GCSEs- 

  • Fast Food Servers – As a fast food server, all you need to take take the orders from your customers and give them the right order. 
  • Retail work – In this job you will be selling the goods directly to the consumers. You can find job roles in various places in neighboring shops, sales managers, etc. 
Mastering GCSEs: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Acing Your Exams
  • Construction work – It is one such job in which you will get a lot of training for it. You will not need to have any education. However to apply for this job you must be physically strong.
  • Content writing – In this one such job you will be doing only if you have good skills. It does not need to have any kind of education for this job role. 
  • Game testing – This is one such fun job that you will be taking. If you love to test different games you can take this job. Though it will not pay you much, it is still a fun job and you do not need to have any GCSE.


GCSEs are the first qualification that you will be taking in your years 11 and 12. For this qualification, you need to take 10 different GCSEs. The final exam of your GCSEs will be taken in the second week of May and end up in the 3rd week of June. You will be getting the result on the last Thursday of August. Generally, there are two types of GCSEs – First-tier and high-tier GCSEs. You will have to get at least a grade to pass your GCSE. The average grade that most of the students will get is also grade 4. But if we talk about getting a good grade, it means you have to score at least grade 6. When you are choosing your GCSE options you must consider taking up subjects which easy and hard. However, if you ever miss your GCSE exams, you will either have to resit for them or can accept the grade that you may get based on the coursework. 

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