Here’s How to Decide Which GCSE Subjects You Should Take

13 Dec, 2023 | Blog Articles, Get the Edge

Choosing your GCSE subjects can be the first step towards studying and working in a field that interests you. 

As you continue studying and learning, you’ll uncover more passions, develop new skills and define new goals, so don’t worry about planning out your entire future at this stage!

The best GCSE subjects you can choose are the ones which align with your individual strengths and aspirations. Think about subjects that you enjoy studying or ones that pique your interest! If you already have an idea of the degree you want to study or your future career, consider the subjects that’ll give you a strong basis of understanding.

Thinking this far ahead is understandably daunting, so we’ve put together a guide on how to best choose your GCSE subjects!

Things to Think About:

Understanding your interests

As with any aspect of your education or career, you’ll be spending a lot of time working on your GCSE subjects, so it’s important to choose GCSEs that genuinely interest you – hard work is a lot easier, after all, if it’s also enjoyable! 

Consider what you’ve enjoyed studying so far at school, and which subjects you enjoy engaging with beyond the classroom.

For example, if you spend all your free time watching documentaries on the History Channel, you might like to delve deeper into the past with a History GCSE. Alternatively, if you spend every waking moment outside of school playing football or on the tennis courts, Sports Science might be a subject to consider. Remember, your GCSEs should be stimulating as well as challenging. 

Explore your future goals

If you have a long-term goal in mind, like a specific undergraduate degree you’d like to study or an industry you’d like to work in, then you can tailor your GCSE subjects to complement these goals. 

Lots of GCSE students don’t have definitive long-term career plans, so don’t worry if you’re still unsure! Spend some time exploring potential goals and career paths, and keep them in mind when choosing your subjects. 

For example:

  • If you’d like to practise Law in the future, GCSE subjects like History and Sociology will prepare you for the essay-based work at university and in law school
  • If you can imagine yourself running a business one day, GCSEs in subjects like Statistics, Business or even Geography, will come in handy 
  • If you’re naturally gifted with modern technology and hope to land a career in software development or programming, a GCSE in Computer Science is a great foundation

Identify your strengths

You also want to pick GCSEs that you know you have the capacity to do well in. A solid understanding of your GCSE subjects will better prepare you for A-level study, and good A-level results will mean an easier time applying to the best universities!

If you find that you’re a great communicator and have an excellent knack for critical thinking, then humanities subjects like History and Religious Studies will likely come naturally to you. Similarly, if you’re great with numbers and problem-solving, you’ll thrive in subjects like Further Mathematics and Physics. 

The better you understand your own strengths, the better you can sharpen them!

Things to Do Before Choosing Your GCSE Subjects:

Research GCSE subjects on offer at your school

Your school will likely have a website or prospectus listing all the available GCSE subjects you can choose from, so getting yourself acquainted with your options nice and early will help you make an informed decision. 

A rushed decision might lead you to pick the same subjects as your friends or subjects you assume you “should” choose. Remember, the only person in charge of your educational journey is you.

Consult friends, family and teachers

No matter how efficiently you map out your goals, sometimes it can still feel tricky choosing which GCSEs you’d like to take. 

It’s always worth sharing this burden with family, friends and teachers – sometimes those closest to you can identify strengths you’re not even aware of or passions you haven’t yet considered! Perhaps you have friends or siblings who’ve already begun or completed their GCSEs and have valuable insights to share with you. 

Teachers will also have a wealth of experience in education and can offer advice on how their past studies have complemented their careers. 

Most importantly, if you’ve a gut feeling about a particular subject you’d like to study, but you’re lacking the self-belief to pursue it, talking to friends and family who have witnessed your passion and your achievements can help give you a much-needed boost in confidence.

Group of Oxford Scholastica students chatting

Trial and reflection

It can often feel like everyone around you has a clear sense of their goals and direction, which can be really intimidating.

The first thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Lots of your peers will also be unsure of their path at this stage, and that’s no bad thing! 

You can use this freedom to explore new avenues and directions. Taster sessions, open days and workshops for a range of potential subjects can ignite new passions and interests, and experiences like our Oxford-based summer courses are a great place to start. 

Choosing your GCSEs is only the first step of a long journey so make the most of the freedom you have, safe in the knowledge that even after you have finished your GCSEs, your options will very much still be open. 

The next two years will be enriching and challenging, but ultimately they represent the start of a journey towards a bright, exciting future, which is a definite cause for celebration!


By Sam Cox

Sam is a recent English graduate from the University of Bristol whose interests include twentieth-century fiction, film, and cultural criticism.

Get a head start on your future!

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