When it comes to choosing subjects to take at GCSE level, there are two things to consider:
- What subject does your child want to study?
- Will the qualification be accessible if you’re not registered with a school and need to sit the exam as a private candidate?
There is a wider range of subjects than you might remember from your time in school, so there are some interesting options available beyond the usual Maths and English – why not try Arabic, Business or Global Citizenship? However some subjects have what is called ‘NEA’ or Non-Exam Assessment sections. These are things like coursework – graded or not – or practicals that the exam centre needs to have verified have taken place. While some exam centres have ways to allow this, most don’t.
It’s worth considering how much NEA is part of a qualification before you set your heart on it. If there’s no NEA at all, you have the best chance of finding a centre. Some types of NEA are easier to arrange than others – eg centres can often manage a speaking assessment in a commonly learnt language like French. Some are very difficult indeed, like Art and Design qualifications where a centre needs to verify that a portfolio has been completed under particular conditions, and there may be an exam centre assessment of ten hours to be completed over a week… there are only a very few centres (like Tutors and Exams) that are able to accommodate this, and even then they will need tutor support and it requires so much time that it will be costly.
As a general rule, International GCSEs (IGCSEs) are less likely to have NEA assessments, as that works better for their international market with students studying in a variety of ways. Some still do though, so it’s not a guarantee.
To save you from looking through every specification to find out what works and what doesn’t, I’ve put the basic details together in a table so you can see at a glance what is available, along with the key information about whether there is NEA, how many papers there are to sit and the exam codes. You’ll still need to check the detailed specification before making a final decision – but this can help narrow it down.
I’ve started with Edexcel IGCSEs – centres that are registered with Edexcel are widely available and most IGCSEs don’t contain any NEA, so those will give you a good selection to start from. I’ll be adding other boards and subjects shortly.
The spreadsheet is available now in my subscriber resource library – just join the mailing list to get access!