Choosing Options – Key Considerations
a. Quality rather than Quantity
Most of the option courses on offer result in a GCSE qualification or equivalent. Most students will study for 9 qualifications. However, some students will have extra qualifications e.g. Statistics for students in top set Maths and Triple Science. In general, gaining 8 or 9 qualifications with higher grades is more important than a larger number of qualifications at lower grades. Quality is more important that quantity.
b. A Balanced Curriculum
It is a good idea to ensure that your choices are broad and balanced – even if you have a specific career in mind. You may change your mind over the next few years. Keeping your curriculum broad ensures that you keep as many doors as possible open. It also shows that you are a well-rounded person. Consider taking a subject that you really enjoy even if it isn’t something that you think will be relevant to your career.
c. Dos and Don’ts for Students
When Choosing subjects DO:
- Take your time. Making hurried choices could mean making the wrong choices.
- Think about which subjects you are good at.
- Do you enjoy the subject? If you enjoy it, you are more likely to work hard and gain good grades.
- Think ahead, see the section below.
- Worry about your choices. There is lots of advice on offer. Make sure you talk to your Form Tutor or Head of Year, the lead teachers for the subjects, your PHSE teachers or Mrs Cumming.
- Choose a subject because your friends are choosing it. They may be more suited to a subject than you – and you will probably end up in a different class to them anyway.
- Choose a subject because you like the teacher. You may not get that teacher for your class.
d. Thinking Ahead
The choices you make now could affect the choices you can make in the future for 6th Form, University or career. You need to ensure that you keep as many doors open as possible. This means that you need to think ahead:
- Some A-level choices will require certain GCSE grades. For example, colleges may require a grade 5 or 6 in Maths to study A level Maths. However, there are many subjects where you do not need to have studied the option at GCSE in order to study it for A-level e.g. Psychology. Some guidance is given in the section below on ‘Moving on to College’ .
- Some of you will be aiming to go on to study at University. Some Universities value certain A-level subjects. For example the Russell Group universities (an association of the top 24 universities) describe certain A-levels as ‘Facilitating Subjects’. You can find useful information on their Informed Choices website at https://www.informedchoices.ac.uk/. Also take a look at https://university.which.co.uk which gives a useful overview, advice and guidance on choosing GCSEs and A levels with a view to university education.
- Some of you will be thinking about a vocational path. There are many careers for students who do not wish to go to university. There are a variety of courses at college which offer a chance to train whilst working. Look at college prospectuses for more details.
e. Making the Wrong Choices
It is important that you think carefully about your options, as you are undertaking to study the subjects that you have chosen for two years. Every year, some students realise that they have chosen courses for the wrong reasons. Whilst we will try our best to accommodate requests for change, during September it can be difficult or impossible to change your choices once courses have started and in those circumstances you will need to continue with your choice until the end of Year 11. Students are not permitted to drop subjects.