The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) was first introduced in 1986. GCSE courses are taught in the last key stage, which is Key Stage 4, of the National Curriculum in England. Key Stage 4 is years 10 and 11 (students aged 14-16). There are 50 GCSE subjects and 14 vocational GCSEs. 5 core GCSEs are required for each student to take. These 5 core courses are Math, Science, English, Citizenship, and PE. In addition to these 5 core GCSEs, schools must allow students to choose at least one course in each of the four “entitlement areas.” The 4 “entitlement areas” are the Arts, Design and Technology, the Humanities, and Modern Foreign Languages make up the general categories for which students can choose courses from to include in their GCSE courses.
A-Levels, short for Advanced Levels, are a higher qualification than the GCSEs. A-Levels are subject-based qualifications that are divided into two stages. Level 1, known as AS, which is taken by students aged 16-17 and level 2, known as A2, are taken by students aged 17-18.
Students study 3 or more A-Levels over two years. At the end of each stage, students must take their exams.
A-Levels are imperative if students want to attend University. Other reasons why individuals may take A-Levels can be to further their knowledge and progress in their profession.
To be able to take A-Levels, students need to have taken at least 5 GCSE courses with grades scored at 9-4 and at least a grade of ‘B’ in any specific subjects they wish to further study. Because each university has its own requirements regarding A-Levels, students need to know which university they want to attend before taking A-Levels to ensure that they satisfy the University’s requirements.