The spring term in year 9 is the time to start thinking about GCSE choices. Engaging early with your child gives both of you time to do some research, consider the options and select the best path thus, averting last minute arguing and panic.
Some subjects are, of course, compulsory – maths, English (in most schools this means English literature as well as an English language GCSE) and science. But even within the mandatory core, there are choices to be made. For instance, does the school offer separate physics, chemistry and biology and does your child have the ability and interest to enter for all three rather than the double science GCSE?
This example highlights the importance of looking ahead to the extent that your 14-year-old can, and thinking about longer-term aims. The eventual choice of university degree or career path may seem a long way off and therefore not particularly relevant, but GCSEs are the foundation to further study. Choosing subjects that your child finds interesting and enjoys can mean they work harder and do better. This is also important further down the line when choosing A-levels and a degree subject.
One good rule of thumb is to start with what they might possibly want to be in future and work back. If for instance, your child has ambitions to be a doctor, they will need to take A levels in the sciences. Selecting three separate sciences at GCSE would therefore be the best route to take in preparation for the exam.
Research the options together and talk to your child as well as their teachers and tutors, about where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Look at school reports and marks to date to try and form objective judgements. It might also be useful to ask them a few questions about each particular choice to ensure the motivation is not based on peripheral considerations such as ‘the teacher is nice’ or ‘my best friend is doing it’. Remember, a natural curiosity in a field of study is a big advantage.
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