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Secondary school can be a challenging and confusing time for students and their families, especially when they start their GCSEs and A-Levels. Read on for a simple Parents guide to GCSEs and A-Levels from a Sixth Form in Somerset.

This is the point at which your child can start being more selective about the subjects they want to study, which is a huge decision that can impact their future academic journey. With that said, parents should try and ensure they are as clued up as possible so that they are in the best position to support their children through this challenging period.

female student revising

When Will My Child Start their GCSEs and A-Levels?

You’ll probably know before even reading this parents guide to GCSEs and A-Levels that the National Curriculum is separated into various key stages. Key Stage 4 is explored in Years 10 and 11 when your child will be studying for their GCSE qualifications. They will likely be asked to consider which subjects they want to study during Year 9.

A-Levels are also studied over a two-year period after your child has completed their GCSEs. These are important qualifications that will likely help them secure a place at university if that’s the route your child would like to take. Now whilst you are reading this parents guide to GCSEs and A-Levels think about this in more detail.

What Subjects Should My Child Study?

Optional subjects will vary from school to school. The important thing to bear in mind is that your child should choose subjects that they are most interested in and perhaps best at. It would be foolish for them to choose a subject just because they like the teacher or because their friends are studying it. 

If your child has a particular career route in mind, it would be a good idea for you, as a family, to do some research about what qualifications are required. For instance, if they would like to become a journalist then it would be wise to choose essay-based subjects, and perhaps Media Studies. Alternatively, if they want to become a Psychologist, then Psychology and other Science-based subjects would be a good choice. 

Parents guide to GCSEs and A-Levels Grading?

In 2016, a new grading system was introduced for GCSEs. They are no longer graded as A*, A, B, C and so on, but are instead graded on a number scale. Grade 9 is the highest grade and 1 is the lowest. 

A-Levels, on the other hand, continue to be graded on an A*-E system. In the first year, students typically study four subjects and then drop one for the second year, leaving them with one AS-Level qualification and three full A-Levels. 

During this stage of your child’s education, your involvement is more important than ever before. Don’t be afraid to speak to your child’s teachers to gain more information and attend open events so that you can ask questions and become more knowledgeable on the process. Most importantly, try not to put too much pressure on your teenager and remain a positive, enthusiastic role model.

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