Choosing subjects to study at GCSE

Choosing subjects to study at GCSE

So, you get to the end of year 9 and as well as everything else that is going on in your life, you have to make choices concerning what subjects you will be studying for the next two years, which may have an impact on what you may study later at Advanced level and beyond at college or university. The decision may weigh very heavy on you.

Even if you have an idea of what you may like to study or already have an interest in a particular career, this article will be of use to you. Additionally, there is useful information for students who are not yet ready to make career decisions either because they did not have the chance to succeed in any particular career area or they have not had the opportunity to experience different career choices and need more information to make an informed decision.

Another major problem that you may encounter is that much will depend on your own course preferences and the courses that are on offer at your school. You may find that although you may excel in some subject areas, they may not actually be useful in your chosen career.

However, in today’s world, there are no longer jobs for life. Even if you choose one career pathway, you may end up branching into other areas, e.g., starting off by considering a career in teaching; starting by studying for a degree in Psychology and Educational Studies, completing Post Graduate Teacher Training in Early Years. This type is study may lead to the successful completion of several years Teaching/Senior Management positions to then consider a change of direction and attaining the post of Recruitment and Training Manager for an international aid agency. 

There are three major points that come out of this anecdote:

  • Interests are important. It is essential that you have an interest in whatever you study. You may consider a particular subject because you are interested in but, but the curriculum it covers may not be precisely what holds your interest, but it could be a stepping stone to what you really want to study. For example, you may find some of the Math curriculum really dull or feel that is little need for some of the work that is covered. However, you really enjoy being given a load of statistics and making sense of the outcomes.
  • Flexibility. New jobs and new opportunities are being developed every day. You, want to be an Engineer? Well, the ‘Google’ answer to this is ‘a lot’. Basically, there are several types: Aeronautical; Chemical; Civil; Electrical; Mechanical; Industrial and Computer. But this list is very limited as it does not include Agricultural; Geological; Forensic; Nuclear; Structural or Thermal to name but a few.  If you check out the careers website www.FastTomato.com you can look at a vast range of careers as well as engineering careers. On this website, you can also check out the GCSE & A level subjects needed for specific jobs.
  • Opportunities. This section considers two types of opportunities. First, there are the opportunities that are available to study for your chosen career. It may be that you live inland yet, would like to be a marine biologist. If that is the case then you may not be able to study locally, you will probably have to consider a university that is a distance away from home. You need to ask yourself are you ready to live and study away from home. Additionally, you need to consider how many qualified graduates are chasing opportunities within this area. Secondly, if you are considering working close to home then look at what is available locally that interests you.

There are other opportunities. Most community colleges offer courses for the younger student who may be looking to experience different training aspects before committing to a specific area of study. Courses such as these will also support you to continue your education of core subjects such as maths, language and science which will be components integrated into other areas of study, e.g. producing a menu as part if a catering course. Menu production would need skills in the English Language; Word Processing and Design. There would be more practical applications to your learning that would be assessed as an ongoing process as opposed to the end of module or course exams.

Still not sure? Then choose GCSE courses that give you a good all-round general education so you can branch out and choose your career pathway when you have more experience and more understanding. An all-around general education would include the core subjects of English Language; English Literature; Maths; Science; History; Geography;  CDT; Computing and a second Language.

The best tip is to get as much advice and information as you can before making any decisions. Remember that up until the age of eighteen, you need to be in full-time education; training; or employment. During that time you also get support from a careers advisor who specialises in supporting young people, so use their expertise to help you make decisions based on your interests and aspirations. Don’t forget that teachers and parents can also be an excellent source of support to help you make GCSE course decisions.

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