Choices – 11 to 16

When you are about 13 or 14, you will start choosing the subjects to take for your first public exams – GCSEs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and National qualifications in Scotland. Your school will explain what the choices are and how you should make them. It should also give lots of advice.

Generally, you will have to take some “core” subjects including English, maths, history or geography, the sciences and perhaps a language. This is designed to make sure that you have a broad basic level of education.

You will then normally be able to choose additional subjects. Which subjects and how many will depend on your school. Your school might not offer every subject you like and the school timetable might not be able to cope with everyone’s combination of subjects. Your school may offer BTECs as well.

  • If you have a particular career or course in mind, check whether it needs particular qualifications.The job profiles on the National Careers Service or Prospects tell you what you need for 100s of different jobs.
  • It is better to do subjects you like or are good at – you are more likely to get better grades.
  • Don’t choose subjects just because your friends are taking them or you particularly like the teacher. You can see your friends outside lessons, and teachers may move to other jobs.
  • Try to get a good mix of subjects. This keeps your options open, and will stop you getting too bored.

You might also be interested in our pages on:

Coping with everyday school life
Coping with everyday school life
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Getting help with learning – 11 to 16
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Managing your schoolwork