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How Important Are Your GCSE Grades?

Young people who perform poorly in Maths and English in GCSE have to continue studying them. Many students will be able to complete school, training or college with good understanding of both subjects, with the new government reform.

Professor Wolf proposed this reform in 2012, during her remarkable vocational education review, with the support of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. Professor Wolf listed the many students who complete college or school with poor Maths and English. She was shocked that the post-16 colleges and schools funding system strongly discouraged students between 16 and 19 from improving their Maths and English.

19-year olds in 2012

• 285,000 completed secondary school while they were 16, with less than a C in Both Maths and English GCSE.

• 255,000 had not yet achieved a C or above in both subjects.

This was mainly because

• There were only 21% of those who had not passed in both subjects by 16 who continued to study for them.

• There were only 23% of the ones who had not passed in Math by 16 who continued to study for it.

The reform will address the mediocrity of the numeracy and literacy standards of most college and school leavers.

Importance of GCSE Grades

Your GCSE grades help you decide on what to do in future. Whether or not you achieve what you hoped for, when you get the GCSE results, you should think of what to do next. 

1. GCSEs results determine what school you join for sixth form

There are different requirements for entry in different colleges and schools. The best colleges require you to have 6 or more A’s. Your GCSE grades indicate your performance in your further education such as A-level. They are the ones focused on to determine your college academic performance. Most sixth forms determine your likely performance using a GCSE-based scoring system, to determine if you will be accepted.

For example, five Cs and five Bs may mean you can get an A-level CCD, while As and plain As would predict AAA. Low GCSE grades give you lower scores and fewer sixth forms and colleges to choose from. If your desired sixth form or college is not likely to accept you, find out if they can be flexible, or try other institutions.

2. GCSEs determine your next qualifications

There are sixth forms which may not allow you to take a certain subject if you scored below A in it at GCSE. You may have no access to Advanced Higher or A-levels if you had Cs in most subjects. You can take vocational/ practical courses at sixth form or other courses like BTEC third level qualification.

3. They can be used in evaluation of your qualification for university courses

Most universities look for Math, English and maybe Science GCSE grades from C and above. Some are more subject-specific. A Degree in Management at Leeds University require Bs and above in Maths and English language, while a Degree in Psychology at Bristol University required Bs in Math, Science and English, but prefers As.

Don’t be discouraged by poor GCSEs; you can be successful with good A-level grades. Additionally, since the July 2015 A-level reforms, GCSE are used more by universities to decide if you will be accepted.

4. GCSEs can restrict your university qualification

Top universities, mostly those of Russell group will require AAB and above A-level grades for most of their courses. Since GCSE and A-level grades are assumed to be related, you need to show that you can perform really well. Cs and Bs at GCSE predict Ds and Cs at A-level. These cannot get you into most universities.

High GCSE performers are the most qualified for the most competitive universities. Some courses have that stated in their prospectus. The Law Department at the Political Science and Economics School of London states that most of the students there had As and A at GCSE.

5. They can affect your future career

Career-based degrees could be subject-specific:

Engineering courses like chemical engineering: A-levels or its equivalent in Chemistry and Maths; in other courses, even Physics. This requires good GCSE performance, that is an A or B in Maths and BB and above in Science

Medicine: Good overall GCSEs. The medical school of Birmingham University requires A in English Literature or Language, Sciences such as HEEPI and Maths. You can present a double certificate of Integrated Science instead of single sciences. Average GCSE grade will be looked at.’

Secondary school education or Social work: C and above in English Language and Maths GCSE.

Primary school education and Nursing and: Cs in Science, English and Maths GCSE. 

Concerned About Your Performance?

If you are worried about being held back by some of your grades, you should consult career advisers or your teachers about the options you have.

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