GCSEs provide the first formal record of your academic ability and potential. If you sat these at school you’ll remember how your whole future seemed to depend on the outcome. They do, in fact, play a huge part in your post-16 pathway. Though there is something you can do about it now if the results weren’t what you needed the first time around.
As minimum requirements and a barrier to entry for most roles and university courses, they are arguably the most important qualifications you can do. A Levels will only get you so far without strong passes in the core GCSE subjects.
Studying GCSEs provides you with an essential foundation in a range of subjects. It allows you to focus on topics of interest and gives you the chance to explore them deeper in your A Levels. They act as an educational gateway, unlocking access to higher education and further fields of study. While providing the footing of whichever career you decide to pursue.
However, the value placed on GCSEs is not so clear cut. Universities often set their own entry requirements, which can vastly differ depending on the institution. Employment can also be subjective, with many external factors affecting recruitment. Examinations though insightful, don’t provide an absolute indication as to a candidate’s abilities.
Character traits like resilience and tenacity, along with prior experience, can be highly desirable with both prospective employers and educational institutions.
You may be reading this having failed to reach a pass mark in any of your GCSE subjects. You could have achieved a C or above in a subject or two, or you may not have sat them at all.
No matter the level of GCSE you have or stage in life you are at, GCSEs can still play a huge part. Not just a qualification for teens, many adults now sit them in later life to open up opportunities.
Their Importance in Your Personal Development
Learning is crucial for your personal development. It increases your confidence, which as a trait common in those successful in work and their personal lives, is something we all strive to have.
When you know something, you’re more self-assured and comfortable dealing with the subject. By exuding confidence, you are more likely to flourish in interviews, be comfortable when meeting new people and come up with ideas when you have to think on the spot.
GCSEs not only test your academic ability, they equip you with transferable and essential life skills that can help in many social settings.
Communication – Communicating ideas in discussions or structuring arguments for assignments will help you to present well in meetings and instances of public speaking.
Decision-making – If you’re backed by knowledge, data and have a thorough understanding of your subject area, you’re poised to make better decisions.
Meeting challenges – Through your studies, you become accustomed to completing assignments before deadlines. This prepares you for the projects you’ll face in work or higher education, making them less daunting.
Receiving feedback – Learning to take constructive criticism from teachers helps you see the value and lessons in listening to others. By not shying away from this, you’ll be more comfortable leading projects and taking charge. Reacting positively to advice and support and becoming a better leader.
By studying GCSEs, you will enhance your knowledge. Increasing your ability to complete everyday tasks and take on more duties in the workplace.
Whether it’s how to write an email, think creatively, interact with others, or to budget your finances, GCSEs give you essential practical skills for your personal and working life.
The Benefits of GCSEs
The importance of GCSEs in your working life will depend on where you are in your career. If you are many years into a career and are looking to take the next step in your company, you may find your experience alone is sufficient.
However, some roles will require a minimum number of qualifications. This could be due to an industry standard or just company policy. Regardless most employers expect a basic level of literacy and numeracy and GCSEs are a good way of measuring that.
If you’re just entering the job market and GCSEs are the only qualifications you have, there won’t be much else on your CV. In this instance, GCSEs will be very important as they help employers quickly compare you against the competition.
In many jobs, you’ll need a grade C/4 or above in English and maths, as they are core subjects. Some apprenticeships also expect certain grades at GCSE. The advanced ones looking for five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English and maths.
The more GCSEs you have at a higher grade, the more freedom you will have to explore different roles. Plus, you’ll have the potential to earn a higher wage.
If you want to go into further or higher education, then the course you wish to study will determine your need for GCSEs.
Not all courses and institutes require them. Some online course providers, for example, don’t always require GCSEs to study at A Level.
However, there is a distinct advantage to having that foundational knowledge.
However, many universities specify GCSEs as well as A Levels (or equivalent) to study their courses. Most expect to see maths and English grade C/4 as a minimum and usually at least 3 others of the same grade or higher.
Many universities are willing to look past these requirements if an applicant has a lot of relevant experience. However, there is no denying the benefit of gaining GCSEs purely from a knowledge perspective.
Each university sets its own entry requirements. If you know you want to study a degree, it is best to look into this before starting your preliminary studies.
How You Can Get GCSEs
With more options open to mature students to gain GCSEs, they are increasingly being studied in later life. You can study the ones you need at your local college or online.
What you choose here will likely depend on how much time you have to commit to your studies. If you are free during a traditional college timetable, or if there are evening classes that suit, then you may choose to study at one nearby.
If you have to learn around prior commitments that don’t allow for study during the day or specific class times in the evening, online study may be better for you.
With distance learning, you don’t have to wait for the start of term to begin. There are also no physical classes or timetables to stick to, so you can complete the work when it suits you. Most GCSE courses provided through distance learning can be completed within a year. Meaning you can work through them quickly and obtain your qualifications faster than you would in traditional, structured settings.
If you want to gain more than one GCSE, we wouldn’t advise studying more than two at a time. If you’re looking to study online, you are already trying to fit this work around a busy lifestyle. Two in some instances may be too much. Take the time to realistically consider how much time you can commit to getting these qualifications. You don’t want your grades to suffer because you took on too much.
Since most jobs and universities look for maths and English as the minimum requirement, we also offer a Functional Skills in Maths and English course. Equivalent to a Grade C in both subjects, the course is designed to give you the foundation of knowledge needed to progress.
There are only 3 units and 15 guided hours of study. Taking Functional Skills in Maths and English could therefore be a quicker alternative to gaining the qualifications you need.
Choosing the right GCSEs to meet your learning objectives is an important decision. Take some time to consider your goals and the path most likely to get you there before you embark on your studies.
learndirect is the UK’s leading distance learning provider. With many GCSE courses available to study online, we can help you reach that goal. Click below to see our options.