What are English gcses?

The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a set of examinations that take place in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and other British territories. They are usually taken by students aged 15 to 16, after two years of study. Some students may take their exams ahead of time if their teachers think the students are capable. English has been divided into two distinct and separate GCSEs; English language and English literature.

There is no longer a GCSE that mixes the two. The course work no longer counts at all for the final grade. All students will take the same exam and, unlike the new GCSE in mathematics, there will be no levels. Find past documents, specifications, key dates and everything you need to prepare for your exams.

Content from the BBC Bitesize exam board for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales. Choose the specification of the exam that matches the one you are studying. The exact grades students take vary from school to school and from student to student, but schools are advised to offer at least one pathway leading to qualification for the English Baccalaureate, which requires GCSE in English language, English literature, mathematics, science (including computer science), a modern or ancient language, and history or geography. Many who fall below this standard will retake gcse English and mathematics to improve their grades.

In Northern Ireland, the A* score has been adjusted upwards with the introduction of the numerical scheme in England, so that an A* is equivalent to a new English grade 9.The two English literature exams may focus on Shakespeare or a 19th century novel, and students will have to answer an unseen poetry question, possibly followed by a modern text. In the past, they were available in a variety of subjects, including extended writing in English, science, business and foreign languages; practical assessment in science and technology subjects; and language speaking assessments. In the English language, the oral language assessment has been downgraded to an approval that is reported separately in the English certificate, without contributing to the qualification. Students generally take at least 5 GCSEs in Key Stage 4, in order to meet the primary measure of achieving 5 A*-C grades, which include English, Math, and Science.

However, some English board qualifications are available as designated qualifications in some circumstances, because they are not available in WJEC. The UK government has developed a list of preferred subjects known as the English Baccalaureate and the benchmark Progress 8 is calculated on the results of eight GCSEs, including English, Mathematics and Science. The requirement of 5 or more grades A*—C or 9-4, including English and Mathematics, is often a requirement for grades after age 16 at sixth-grade or higher education colleges after finishing high school. Most universities, in addition to their requirements beyond the age of 16, seek to have their candidates grades of C or 4 or higher in English and mathematics from the GCSE.

Some subjects will retain coursework without evaluation, with the completion of certain experiments in scientific subjects to be assumed in the exams, and the teacher's report on participation in the spoken language for the English GCSEs as a separate report. Most English board qualifications are also available, with the exception of English language and science, due to requirements for oral and practical assessment, respectively.

Dermot White
Dermot White

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