Wanting to Do GCSEs Online? This is What you Need To Know

Wanting to Do GCSEs Online? This is What you Need To Know

August 1, 2023 | 9months | General

Key takeaways

What does GCSE stand for?

GCSE stands for “General Certificate of Secondary Education”. These are achieved by students during secondary education in the UK by taking a series of examinations that certify their knowledge of certain subjects.

Role of GCSEs in the UK education system

The function of GCSEs is to standardise educational assessments across the UK to make sure all students graduating from secondary school are proficient in the subjects they have studied. This certification will later enable them to aspire to higher employment positions than those who do not have them and to gain access to their desired universities or apprenticeships.

In-person vs. online learning

Students usually sit GCSE exams at the age of 16, after having prepared for two years. This preparation can be done in person, at school, or online, remotely. While preparing for GCSEs at school allows students to take classes in person with a teacher and a group of peers, online students can fast-track their courses and study from anywhere and in their own time.

How do GCSEs work?

The first step in taking GCSE exams is to understand how they work. In Year 9, or 8 in some cases, school students in the UK decide for which subjects they want to study, as there are more than 20 different options to choose from. Consequently, students will study for two years and finally sit the GCSEs they have selected.

GCSE Subjects & Structure

Students typically select up to 10 subjects to study for, but the minimum is normally five. The number and subjects to be taken depend on the school in which you are studying at. However, there are some subjects that are available in all schools and are considered core subjects, as they are generally the most important for further studies.

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Core subjects and optional subjects

There are 3 core subjects that all students often take and that are obligatory in many cases. These are English, Maths, and Science (which can also be the individual Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses) These are the most important subjects for universities and students can choose some more to reach the ideal number of GCSEs. These subjects are usually compulsory in all schools, although each institution may decide to add others to the list.

Structure and duration of GCSE courses

In Year 9, students choose which subjects they wish to take and prepare for them over two years, culminating in a series of examinations that will represent their final GCSE grades. Online courses allow students to shorten this period, as they are able to adapt their study schedule to their daily activities.

Grading system and assessment methods

GCSE examinations used to be graded based on a scale from A* to F, C being the minimum grade to pass. Nowadays, a reformation is taking place and many subjects are now graded from 1 to 9, 4 being the minimum passing grade. For this reason, students can currently have a mix of letters and numbers in their grades.

But how are these grades acquired? There are five main official exam boards, which are AQA, CCEA; Edexcel; OCR; WJEC, but, at the same time, they are all regulated by an educational institution that depends on the country you are taking the exam in. Different subjects can be assessed theoretically or practically. For example, History is assessed through a theoretical examination, but Chemistry may require some laboratory practice. Besides, some subjects allow assessment through coursework, usually combined with a final exam, which is a good choice to avoid exam stress and anxiety.

Importance of subject choices for future pathways

GCSEs are not only important to round off your secondary studies but also to certify your knowledge in the subjects you are taking so that universities and companies know that you are competent in those subjects. For this reason, we suggest that students have a sense of the path they will choose after GCSEs.

Although it can be difficult to decide on a specific degree, it is advisable that they know, at least, whether they want to continue their studies at university or pursue apprenticeships, or whether they wish to look for a job. Furthermore, it is ideal to know the area they want to dedicate themselves to, e.g. Science or Humanities. This way, they will have the basic context they need to make the right decision when picking which GCSEs to sit.

Examination process

One of the most difficult parts of preparing for GCSEs has to be the scheduling and booking process, especially in the case of private applications that are not organised by a school or institution. Fortunately, CloudLearn has got you covered, as we can book your exams at the most suitable exam centre based on your subject decisions and location. There are thousands of exam centres in the UK, but not all of them accept private candidates. Finding a centre as a private candidate can prove tricky. That is why we have partnered with a network of centres in the UK, giving you complete peace of mind to focus on your studies.

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GCSE exam scheduling

GCSEs are usually taken in May/June, at the end of the school year, but for some subjects, it is also possible to take the exam in October/November. Our recommendation is to book your exams at least six months in advance to ensure you can get a place at the most suitable examination centre for you.

Assessment criteria and marking process

After sitting their exams, students need to wait for about two months for their results. The marking process is time-consuming due to the many stages involved. Exams are assessed and graded by an examination board consisting of experienced teachers who follow a set of guidelines to ensure that exam marking is fair and equal for all applicants. Each of the examination boards has its own method for choosing and training examiners to set an examination standard. However, if students are not convinced about the result they achieved, they can always request a revision of the grade or resit the exam.

Support systems for GCSE students (+tips)

Exam season can be very stressful for students and that is why we recommend that they have a group of people who support them in various aspects of the process.

Role of teachers, mentors, and parents

All the adults involved in the students’ learning process are essential for them to achieve success. Teachers and tutors are the ones who will guide the teenager through the course of studies, assess their coursework and determine actions necessary to reach their goals, but parents must also support their children along the process. While teachers and tutors help students with the academic aspect, parents can help them find the best way to study at home and revise, and above all motivate them to make the best out of the experience.

School-based resources

Studying at school is the most typical option for students in the UK, and has the advantage of sharing with other students who are going through the same process. This can help them share experiences and support each other along the way, discussing topics, study techniques, or simply spending time together while learning.

Educational platforms

Remote learning can help students use their time in a way that is more compatible with their daily activities. This can be a good option for students who already have a job, want to travel, or have other responsibilities and find it difficult to attend classes according to a normal, on-site schedule. By studying through an online platform, they can access the content whenever they want, using their free time as they want and studying at their own pace, while still being able to contact tutors to ask questions.

How to get started?

Having all this information in mind, the only step left is to apply for your online GCSE courses and examinations.

Enrolment process

If you have decided to enrol on GCSE courses online, access our website to register for those subjects you wish to prepare for. On the website, you will find a list of all the subjects available on our platform. Click on those you are interested in to find information on course topics, career pathways, and the benefits we offer. You will then see the total fee to pay (with discounts, if available), and the form you need to fill in to enrol.

Registration and application

In the registration form, you will have the opportunity to choose when to sit the exam, which examination centre you will attend (with its corresponding fee), and whether you wish to receive printed course materials. As soon as 15 minutes after registering, you will receive your login information to enter the platform (as long as you have registered within normal UK working hours). You will then have complete access to the content for studying.

Payment options and fees

Some of the payment advantages you can get with CloudLearn is paying less for each exam you add to your cart. In addition, you do not need to pay for the entire programme at once, as you can make monthly payments throughout the duration of the course. On top of that, you may find seasonal discounts!

Access to course materials

To access the course materials, you can either log on to the online platform, which is free of charge or wait for the printed materials to arrive approximately 8-10 working days after registration. Whichever option you choose, you will now be able to study at your own pace, wherever you want.


GCSEs are of utmost importance for students who want to continue their studies at university or apprenticeship, or even if they want to find a job. For this reason, it is important that they choose the subjects to study based on their ideas for the future. Although this process can be tough and stressful, CloudLearn aspires to make it easier and more pleasant, while offering the perfect programme for you to study from anywhere, learning at your own pace, and guaranteeing a passing mark.

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What is GCSE in the UK?

GCSE stands for “General Certificate of Secondary Education”, and represents a set of exams that students throughout the UK take to certify their knowledge and skills in certain subjects at the end of their secondary studies, enabling them to attend university or find employment.

What age do you do GCSE?

GCSEs are usually taken at the age of 16, after two years of preparation. In schools, students typically enrol on preparative courses in Year 9 and study along a two-year period that concludes with the examination stage. On online platforms, this span can be reduced to just a few months.

Can I do a GCSE online?

Yes! CloudLearn offers an online, self-paced programme to study GCSEs remotely, from anywhere in the world. This programme is available for UK students and also for foreign students.

When do GCSEs start?

The preparation course for GCSEs starts in Year 9 of secondary school, but taking online courses enables students to start anytime they want. As for exam season, GCSEs are usually taken in May/June, and some subjects can be tested in October/November.

Can I take GCSE exams at home?

Examination preparation can be done anywhere by taking online courses, but exams must be taken in registered examination centres. Finding the centre that best suits your needs (depending on your location and the subjects you want to study) can be challenging, but CloudLearn helps you avoid the hassle in this process.

What is the GCSE curriculum?

The GCSE curriculum establishes a set of subjects that students have to choose obligatorily and a minimum number of exams they have to sit for. These are the core subjects, which include English, Maths, and Science (which can be Biology, Physics or Chemistry). However, each school can set its own curriculum and make other subjects compulsory too.

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