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The General Certificate of Education (GCSE) is the first external examination taken by students at UK schools, normally at the age of 15/16. Within the UK educational system GCSEs are important for entry into Higher Education courses. Colleges and universities generally look for a minimum of five passes at GCSE, including English and Maths. GCSEs are marked from A* - G, and a pass is considered to be a C Grade.
Most UK students will take at least eight subjects over two years between the ages of 14 and 16. (Year 10 and Year 11). Some international students may come to the UK to take five basic subjects (including Maths and English) over one year, and many private colleges offer these intensive GCSE courses.
The majority of independent schools prepare students for the International GCSE (IGCSE) exams, which are generally considered to be more academically challenging than the standard GCSE courses offered by the major UK exam boards.
Private colleges offer one or two year GCSE programmes. They can also provide retake courses for students who want to improve their GCSE results. Depending on the number of subjects studied, a typical GCSE programme comprises 20-25 hours of tuition per week, conducted in small classes where students can benefit from exceptional amounts of personal attention and feedback.
Students generally need to be at least 14 at entry and they receive particularly careful attention and support with close supervision of their attendance and achievement. Some colleges will be reluctant to accept students over the age of 17 at the start of a GCSE course.
GCSEs are offered in a very wide range of subjects, with most private colleges offering students a huge choice on their full two year courses. We would normally recommend that students take at least English, Maths and Science and then choose other subjects according to their interests. You should be aware that it is necessary to achieve at least a B grade in a subject at GCSE in order to proceed to an A Level course in that subject. For Maths and Science subjects an A*/A grade is often required.
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