If you’re about to choose your GCSEs, you might be thinking about how hard school is going to be over the next few years. It might pay off to choose some hard GCSEs, and come out at the end with some good chances of getting into college.
I’ve compiled this list of the top 10hardestGCSEs that you can do so you don’t have to. If you’re interested in a challenge, want to get into a prestigious college, or are simply doing some research, read on.
Disclaimer:The ranking of the GCSE subjects in this list is not definitive. Every student will have individual strengths and weaknesses, and so will find some subjects more challenging than others. Additionally, judgements about the hardest GCSEs depend on the criteria that it is based on. In this article we have tried to take into account many different factors that make certain GCSE subjects challenging, but still, keep in mind that the list here is formed of opinions which are based on polling. Although you may want to take them into account when choosing your GCSE subjects, you should also think about what your specific skills are and what it is that interests you when choosing your GCSEs. This is simply a list constructed from UK student polling.
10. GCSE English Language
Coming in as the 10thhardest GCSE you can take, we have GCSE English Language. There are a few reasons why this GCSE is on this list, but there are also reasons as to why it only places 10th,too.
English Language has a pass rate of 70.2% as of 2018. This is fairly high for any GCSE, and partly why GCSE English Language doesn’t come higher on my list.
GCSE English Language is all about showing off your talent at writing, without having to know too much content. All you really need to know is a few techniques and how to use them.
That being said, you do still need to revise for your exams. Practicing your writing skills and storytelling can both contribute to your final grade, so make sure you do some revision.
One of the things that makes GCSE English Language so hard is the uncertainty of what could come up on the exams. There are a few unseen texts that you will be given, and you’re expected toanalyseand even compare some of these texts.
This type of assessment tends to catch students off-guard, as there’s not much you can do to prepare for it. Just practice your analysing skills and hope for the best…
9. Modern Foreign Language GCSEs
Next up on my list, we have the modern foreign language GCSEs. These GCSEs are unlike most of the other subjects you can take, because of the amount of content and the way they’re assessed.
The modern foreign language GCSEs consist of French, German, and Spanish. Most students decide they want to take one, but if youreallywant a challenge, you should go for 2.
Taking one of these GCSEs is literally learning a whole new way of thinking. Many of the concepts and techniques you have to grasp are unlike anything in the English language, and so it can be hard to be successful in these GCSEs.
The pass rate of GCSE Spanish is 70.5%, GCSE German is 75.2%, and GCSE French is 69.8% (all as of 2018). These pass rates are fairly average, but that’s because the students that take these GCSEs are committed to success.
The only reason modern foreign language GCSEs don’t feature higher on my list is because of the amount of content. There isn’t actually a whole lot of content in the GCSE version of this subject, and it doesn’t go too far into depth either.
This makes it a little easier than other GCSEs that feature a lot more content, and so is the reason why the pass rates are a little on the high side too.
8. GCSE History
GCSE History finds itself at number 8 on the list of the top 10 hardest GCSEs, so why do so many students decide to take it?
This subject is a popular one amongst students, mainly because of how good it looks on your CV. When applying for college or university, GCSE History (and its A-Level counterpart) will really impress.
GCSE History has a pass rate of 63.9%, one of the lowest on this list. The content is quite difficult, and there’s a whole range of skills you need to have mastered before you enter your exam.
You need to be able to write extended answers, analysing and discussing reasons and ideas behind major historical events. This is combined with an ability to remember a bunch of key dates and people, too.
This is why so many students struggle, because of the sheer volume of information you need to know. There’s a lot to revise, and therefore a lot you’ll need to be able to talk about.
However, if you’re interested in GCSE History, you’ll find it a little bit easier. You’ll be able to apply yourself better, and you’ll be more motivated to engage with the content (this will result in better grades).
7. GCSE Biology
GCSE Biology makes an appearance on this list at number 7, as one of the hardest GCSEs you can take. High volume of content, and difficult concepts to understand are two of the reasons why so many students struggle.
GCSE Biology has a pass rate of 89.2% in 2018. This is quite a high pass rate, but that’s mainly because science is something most schools focus heavily on.
Because the sciences are facilitating subjects for both college and university, your school will likely push you to achieve good grades in science. This is why the pass rate is so high (paired with the fact that Biology is the easiest science at GCSE Level).
GCSE Biology has a lot of content you need to know, and a few difficult techniques you need to get your head around. Things such as meiosis, mitosis, and the theory of evolution are where it’s easy to get lost.
GCSE Biology has the least amount of maths in it, with only 10% of the marks being maths related. This can be either good or bad, depending on your level of skill with maths.
However, most of the maths that featuresisearly GCSE level, and so shouldn’t be too difficult for you. If you take triple science as a GCSE, you’ll find that the extended amount of time learning the subject will make it a fair bit easier too.
6. GCSE Computer Science
GCSE Computer Science is an up and coming GCSE, with more students choosing to take it further than ever before. If this is the case, why is it so hard?
GCSE Computer Science pairs two skills that you wouldn’t usually put together. You’re expected to be able to learn a whole new language to be able to get programs to do what you want them to do.
In addition to this, you also have to use and apply theproblem solvingskills you’ve learnt in GCSE Maths. GCSE Computer Science heavily relies on your ability to work out difficult problems, while also being able to express them in terms of programming language.
GCSE Computer Science has a pass rate of 61.6% per the exams in 2018. This is an incredibly low pass rate for any GCSE, with only 3.7% of students achieving the top grade of a 9.
You can see that if you decide to take this GCSE, you might run into some struggles.Any student that takes this subject needs to be proficient in programming and problem solving in order to succeed.
5. GCSE Maths
At 5thplace on my list of the top 10 hardest GCSEs, we have GCSE Maths. This one is a little bit different to some of the other GCSEs on the list, as it’s compulsory.
This means that even if you’re not great at it, you have to do it anyway. Unluckily for you, GCSE Maths is both toughandnon-optional, and this is the reason why so many students come to hate it.
GCSE Maths features a lot of different equations and formula you have to be able to use. It’s quite a complex, interlinking subject, where the content will tie in with itself in many different ways.
A factor that makes GCSE Maths hard is that you have to know all the links between the content. When you turn up to your exams, you have to be ready for anything that might come up – and there’s alotthat might come up.
GCSE Maths is dissimilar to other GCSEs whereby you know what will come up. For example, you know you have some set poems for GCSE English Literature.
GCSE Maths has nothing like that – you just have to know your stuff.
4. GCSE Chemistry
GCSE Chemistry is the second hardest science GCSE you can take, just harder than GCSE Biology. Let’s quickly run through why it’s in the middle of the other two sciences, and not at either end.
GCSE Chemistry has a high pass rate of 89.7% in 2018. This is actually slightly higher than GCSE Biology, and slightly lower than GCSE Physics.
The reason the pass rate is higher is because there is a largeramountof students getting lower grades in GCSE Chemistry than in GCSE Biology. What this means is that the majority of students are achieving closer to a C in GCSE Biology than they are in GCSE Chemistry.
GCSE Chemistry features a lot of difficult to understand content, which even the brightest students tend to struggle with. Unless you really put in the hours and work hard, you’ll fall behind in this subject.
Taking triple science gives you more hours to improve your knowledge of GCSE Chemistry, but the content is also harder. You’ve just got to make the choice for how much science is the right amount for you.
3. GCSE English Literature
Starting off the top 3 hardest GCSEs, we have GCSE English Literature. It’s a lot harder than its language counterpart, and it’s easy to see why.
GCSE English Literature has difficult content that takes a while to master, and also relies on your ability to communicate. You have to deal with both of these factors at the same time, and that’s why this subject can be difficult.
If you’re looking for pass rates, GCSE English Literature has a pass rate of 72.9%. This is fairly standard, just a normal pass rate for a hard GCSE.
What I found most difficult about GCSE English Literature was the hours and hours of writing. Unfortunately, the only way to practice and improve your writing skills is to do just that- write.
This makes it more difficult to revise for, as writing extended answers is both time consuming and monotonous.If a subject is difficult to revise for, then you have a higher chance of failure in your exams.
2. GCSE Physics
Coming in close, but not quite at the top spot, we have GCSEPhysics.GCSE Physics is anextremelyhard GCSE, and only the brightest and best students achieve the top marks in their exams.
GCSE Physics is best known for its high level of maths content, and the many equations you have to remember. Not onlyisthere more equations than GCSE Biology and GCSE Chemistry combined, you have to know how to use and apply every single one of them.
This is because anything from the entire GCSE Physics specification could come up. Anything you study in your lessons could appear on your exam, and so you need to put in the hours to make sure you know your stuff.
GCSE Physics has a pass rate of 90.6% as of 2018. This may seem incredibly high, but that’s because schoolsknowGCSE Physics is difficult, and they push students to achieve their best in this subject.
1. GCSE Further Maths
Right at the top of my list of the top 10 hardest GCSEs, we have GCSE Further Maths. This GCSE is the hardest subject you could attempt, and here’s why.
GCSE Further Maths features harder content than any other GCSE. It’s difficult to understand, and even the best of regular GCSE Maths studentsstruggleto cope with the difficulty.
GCSE Further Maths doesn’t follow on from regular GCSE Maths, as many of you might think. This subject is on another level, featuring work that you’d commonly do at A-Level.
Only a select few students are allowed to try and complete this GCSE, and some schools don’t even offer it. That’s because they don’t want the risk of loads of students failing, as this subject isextremelyhard.
However, if you can do it, you’ll set yourself up nicely for the future. College will be easier to getinto,and even life after that will be made easier by this subject.
- Film Studies.
- Religious Studies.
- Media Studies.
- Hospitality and Catering.
- Business Studies.
- Physical Education.
1. GCSE Maths. GCSE Maths has been proven to be the clearly most popular GCSE as it cements the basic academic skills needed in many life scenarios. Maths is used both in and out of the workplace and has many crossovers into other subjects especially science.How many people get all 9s at GCSE? ›
All grade 9s in all subjects taken.
|Number of GCSEs taken||Number of students|
You've probably heard a lot about the new GCSEs being designed to be more difficult. And it's true that the questions are harder and that their purpose is to push talented students further. However, contrary to common opinion – and, you might think, common sense - this doesn't make it harder to get a good grade.Which GCSEs are hardest? ›
- English Literature.
- Computer Science.
- English Language.
- Modern Foreign Languages.
Resit your GCSEs through your school
You can still enrol to retake your GCSEs at a local school or college. This means you'll have a timetable and attend classes with other GCSE students. For Maths and English, resitting is compulsory if you haven't achieved a pass (grade 4).
The highest grade is marked at a 9, while 1 is the lowest a student can receive. A grade 4 is broadly equivalent to a C grade, and a grade 7 broadly equivalent to an A. The system was phased in over a series of subjects, with 2020 the first time that all students received their grades with the new system.What is the least popular GCSE? ›
The least popular subject at GCSE level was engineering, with only 2,305 students taking this subject in 2022. Other sciences (2,320 students) and classical subjects (3,595 students) followed as the 3 least popular subjects for GCSE students in 2022.How many students fail their GCSEs? ›
It means almost 30 per cent failed to achieve a standard pass. Similarly, the proportion of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who achieved Grade 4 or above in their Maths GCSE slumped to 65 per cent this year, down from 69.4 per cent in 2021.Is 9 GCSEs a lot? ›
The way GCSEs are assessed and graded was changed in 2017 to make them more challenging. They are now graded 1-9 (9 is the highest). Grade 9 is higher than the previous A*, a 4 is accepted as a pass for most Level 3 college courses and a 5 is regarded as a strong pass.
According to The Student Room, students revise 15 to 20 hours per week for their exams, which might sound a lot until you break it down. You've probably worked it out for yourself, but the recommended time equates to three to five hours of revision per day with weekends off!What does a 1 mean in GCSE? ›
The reformed GCSE qualifications will be awarded on a grade scale of 9 (the highest grade) to 1 (the lowest).Will 2022 GCSEs be easier? ›
Pupils' GCSE and A-level exams will be graded more generously than in pre-pandemic years - to make up for the disruption Covid has had on learning. National exams are going ahead this year across the UK, for the first time since the pandemic began.Is D in GCSE a pass? ›
A*-C at GCSE is equivalent to a Level 2 Qualification. D-G is equivalent to a Level 1 Qualification. So taking that into account, yes your D is a pass however it will not aid in your application in to Level 3 Qualifications such as, A-Levels and their "equivalents".Is having 7 GCSEs good? ›
Make sure the GCSEs you do take, you have good grades in. University is for the top band of students, and that means students with at least 6-7 A*- C GCSEs. As long as you have around 9 GCSEs, you shouldn't worry about getting into university.What is the most failed GCSE subject? ›
GCSE History has a pass rate of 63.9%, one of the lowest on this list. The content is quite difficult, and there's a whole range of skills you need to have mastered before you enter your exam. You need to be able to write extended answers, analysing and discussing reasons and ideas behind major historical events.Is math harder than biology? ›
Ans. Biology will be significantly tougher than math. In Bio, there will be a few application questions, but they will mostly be surface-level thinking problems. Question 2.Is it hard to get a 9 in GCSE? ›
I believe it's quite hard. Above an A* from our day. In 2019 around 4.5% of pupils got a 9 grade (exam) That's about than 1 in 22.Is a 1 A fail in GCSE? ›
The 9-1 grading scheme was brought in alongside a new GCSE curriculum in England. The highest grade is now 9, while 1 is the lowest. The U grade, meaning "ungraded", remains the same.Can u skip your GCSEs? ›
If you miss an exam due to an unprecedented event, then there are systems in place to ensure you get a grade, as long as you meet certain criteria. However, if you miss the exam due to something within your control i.e., waking up late then you will fail the exam.
In a nutshell, yes you can! There are a number of apprenticeship schemes out there that you can apply for even if you don't have any qualifications. So if you're wondered and thinking, “I failed my GCSEs”, don't worry – a fantastic career could still be available to you. There are different levels of apprenticeships.Is a 3 A fail in GCSE? ›
If you achieve a grade 4 in your GCSEs, then it is considered the same as the old grade C, under the GCSE grade equivalents. 3. Is a 3 a pass in GCSE? No, the GCSE grade 3 equivalent is in between the traditional grades D and E.What GCSE 70%? ›
So 70 would be a Grade 6, but 69 would be a Grade 5. The GCSE grade boundaries are now only being released to students on results day, whereas previously they were published in advance.Is 70% a pass in GCSE? ›
Each GCSE exam board's pass mark % each year is similar. Even though this ball park figure does change – across all the GCSE exam boards – eacg year. For example: AQA exam board's pass mark was 70 / 160 in 2022 which is 43%.Is a 5 OK at GCSE? ›
Equivalent GCSE grades
Grade 5 is a 'strong pass' and equivalent to a high C and low B on the old grading system. Grade 4 remains the level that students must achieve without needing to resit English and Maths post-16.
Herts and Essex High School has announced its "best ever" set of GCSE results. Elizabeth Hannant achieved a clean sweep of 11 grade 9s while Elizabeth Clune, Martha Gray and Elizabeth Winter got nine 9s and one eight as more than 20% of the cohort achieved grade 7 and higher in all their GCSEs.How many GCSEs should you pass? ›
Higher and further education
Most colleges like you to take a minimum of five GCSEs, including English Language and Maths at grade 4 (C) or above, while sixth forms have slightly higher entry requirements, looking for at least six GCSE examination results achieving at least a grade 4 (C).
Teachers' influence in mass failure of Mathematics can result from poor teaching techniques, inability to make the subject practicable and simple, poor knowledge of the course and so on.Do most people pass GCSEs? ›
Proportion of GCSE entries that achieved a pass grade in the UK 1988-2022. In Summer 2022 GCSE students in the United Kingdom had a pass rate (achieving a grade of C/4 or higher) of 73.2 percent, the lowest since 2019 but still a noticeable increase when compared with years prior to 2020.Why do so many people fail maths? ›
So, if students are failing at math, it's likely because they haven't been exposed to fruitful mathematical learning opportunities, they don't have experience with mathematics, or they have no desire to apply effort. All three of these hurdles can be overcome with effective teaching strategies.
You'll usually need: at least 5 GCSEs grades 9 to 7 (A* or A), including English maths and sciences. 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry.Is having 8 GCSEs good? ›
Fewer GCSEs with good grades are the best - a minimum of 8. It's a great collection of advice and information. 8 is plenty.How many 9s do you need for Oxford? ›
Get good grades
GCSEs are seen as evidence of work ethic – and you need a really strong one of those to cope with studying at Oxford or Cambridge. Our guesstimate is that the average successful applicant has around eight 8/9 grade GCSEs under their belt.
That said, science has indicated that learning is most effective between 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm, when the brain is in an acquisition mode. On the other hand, the least effective learning time is between 4 am and 7 am.Can u revise in one day? ›
It's possible to revise for an exam in a day. This plan partly relies on the strength of your lecture notes and attendance throughout the course.Is it good to revise all day? ›
There's no point revising for longer than four hours, as the content you revise won't stay in your brain. You won't be able to focus on your work, which means you won't be able to remember it, and then you'll miss out on marks in an exam.What is GCSE A * to G? ›
The full range of GCSE grades A* – G spans Levels 1 and 2 of the Credit and Qualification Framework for Wales: Grades A* – C are Level 2; grades D – G are Level 1. Single award and short-courses are graded A*, A, B, C, D, E, F, G.What does P mean in GCSE results? ›
It means you passed the english language spoken assessment - P is pass, M is merit and D is distinction. It doesn't affect your grade.What GCSE grade is 80 %? ›
If a paper is allocated 120 uniform marks, the range of marks allocated to grade B is 84 to 95 (70% to 79% of 120); for grade C, 72 to 83 (60% to 69% of 120).Do examiners mark harshly? ›
They don't give out A's and B's like smarties, but you're marked for what you've done right. Examiners won't deduct marks for things you've done wrong off of those you've already earned for what you've done right.
You can either resit your GCSEs at school or college, or you can study for your resit with an online GCSE course. If you enrol to resit your GCSEs at a local school or college, you will have a timetable and attend classes with other GCSE students.Why are UK grades so low? ›
This is because the UK system is different to that in the USA. In the UK the curriculum is deeper whereas in the USA it is broader. The UK also has the A* grade which is awarded to a much smaller percentage of candidates than even the A grade.Is 40% a pass? ›
Marks and Grades
The pass mark is 40% and it is relatively unusual for students to regularly achieve marks of 70% or above (in fact, only 10% of students receive marks this high).
Students who score between 40 and 55 per cent will receive an “achieved” grading, while those who score between 20 and 40 per cent will secure a “partially achieved” grading. Scores of under 20 per cent will be deemed to be “not graded”.
A 4-3 is actually two lots of 3.5, not one grade 4 paper and one grade 3 paper. It's the mark less than the basic Level 2 pass of 4-4, but better than 3-3.Is a 5 in maths good? ›
However, a 4 is being classified as a standard pass, which can be broadly compared to a grade C, while a 5 is a strong pass.How hard is Grade 9? ›
Grade 9 is one of the most work-intensive years that you will experience at High School. A year filled with tests, projects and exams can leave you very stressed, falling behind and feeling overwhelmed… well here's how not to fall behind and how to juggle the Grade 9 workload!Do GCSEs really matter? ›
Your GCSEs are an important part of the university application process, but they aren't quite as important as your more recent study e.g. your A levels or BTECs.What is the lowest GCSE pass? ›
Pupils will have needed a 4 for a "standard pass" and 5 for a "strong pass". This means that a candidate who gets nine grade-4s has, technically, passed all their exams. However, the government's school league tables are based on the percentage of pupils who achieve a 5 or above in English and maths GCSEs.What is the least picked GCSE? ›
1. Welsh (as a second language) - 15. Only 15 students were entered to sit the GCSE exam in Welsh as a second language in 2018.
What is the new grading scale for GCSE qualifications? The reformed GCSE qualifications will be awarded on a grade scale of 9 (the highest grade) to 1 (the lowest). This new scale will be aligned to key grades on the current A* to G scale.How many people fail their GCSEs? ›
It means almost 30 per cent failed to achieve a standard pass. Similarly, the proportion of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who achieved Grade 4 or above in their Maths GCSE slumped to 65 per cent this year, down from 69.4 per cent in 2021.Is Grade 3 a fail? ›
Is grade 3 a pass? For a 'standard pass', equivalent to the old C grade, students will need to achieve a 4 grade, while a 5 will constitute a 'strong pass'.Is D grade pass or fail in GCSE? ›
Grades A* to C are a standard pass according to the Department for Education. However, grades D and E are still technically passes but are worth less than the higher boundaries. The F letter is the 'fail' grade, so anything below that - meaning the G and U grades - are outright fails.Is D considered passing in GCSE? ›
Technically, anything except a U is a pass. But most employers and others generally regard a pass as being C or above.Is a 3 a pass GCSE? ›
If you achieve a grade 4 in your GCSEs, then it is considered the same as the old grade C, under the GCSE grade equivalents. 3. Is a 3 a pass in GCSE? No, the GCSE grade 3 equivalent is in between the traditional grades D and E.How old is a year 9? ›
|12 to 13||Year 8|
|13 to 14||Year 9|
|14 to 15||Year 10||Some children take GCSEs|
|15 to 16||Year 11||Most children take GCSEs or other national|
The numerical system means that, while a pass used to be a simple C grade, there are now two marks considered a “pass” for GCSE students. Schools are judged by the proportion of its pupils that achieve a “standard” pass and above, which is denoted by a grade 4.What does P mean in grades UK? ›
P (Pass): you've been awarded an overall pass numerical grade. F (Fail): you've been awarded an overall fail numerical grade.What is a 0 in GCSE? ›
For Maths, English Language and English Literature, as you may already be aware, students in Year 10 will be graded using the new numerical system 9 to 1 (with 9 being the highest grade and 1 being the lowest, 0 for ungraded/fail).