Talk:General Certificate of Secondary Education

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GCSE and O Level Equivalency[edit]

The table of equivalency seems to me to be erroneous. An A grade at O level encompasses both the numerical grades of 1 and 2 IE You can obtain an A1 or an A2 at O level with A1 being the top grading. An O level B encompasses numerical grades 3 and 4 and a C encompasses 5 and 6. I know this because I have my O level certificate in front of me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:00, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

There are bigger issues with the table, as the historic record show: ~80% of pupils were entered for either maths paper in the 1970's, ~35% at O-Level, ~65% a CSE, of which ~10% received an A grade, at O'level, so ~3% of the cohort (Exam candidates + others). Today ~95% attempt GCSE maths, with 6.4% of the cohort obtaining an A* and ~20% obtaining an A*/A, so as maths skills have shown to not have improved in the intervening time (grade inflation) an: O-Level A1 ~= A**, A2 ~= A*/A, B3 = A, B4 = A/B .... (talk) 18:35, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

GCSE list[edit]

For not the first time, I've corrected the GCSE subject list again:

  • Changed the heading 'core subjects' back to 'effectively compulsory subjects', as that is a more accurate description of what they are, as no GCSE is technically compulsory (this is explained in the text)
  • Removed Additional Maths from the core subjects list because its optional
  • Corrected Science (the 'old syllabus' of single Science has only just been rewritten, Twenty-First Century Science and the new Science courses are slightly different things) and tried to make the routes clearer
  • RE is not compulsory GCSE anywhere in the UK, though it must be studied in some form (not necessarily for an exam) everywhere
  • Similarly, PE is not compulsory as a GCSE, but must be studied
  • DIDA, CIDA and AIDA are not GCSEs and do not belong in the list

I've also removed the columns, as everything looked too crowded even on my 1280x1024 display. - Green Tentacle (talk) 02:49, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

It's not simply that no GCSE is compulsory, but no subject is 'compulsory'. Thus it is not true, for example, that religious education (or for that matter, mathematics or English language), must be studied to any level whatsoever. Some subjects must be studied, of course, if the national curriculum is followed, but the national curriculum itself only must be followed in state schools. Private schools and home-educating families do not have to follow it. The article should be amended accordingly. (talk) 16:39, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
As far as I can see, the article already clearly states that the National Curriculum is only compulsory in state schools. - Green Tentacle (talk) 16:14, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Acronym Soup[edit]

I'm an American, and I was looking up this page because my wife, a secondary school student here and I were discussing the GCSE - since someone had been accused of allowing systemic cheating on the GCSE by letting students refer to texts.

I found myself in acronym soup. I finally found a link to ICT, but I was not able to determine some of the others. It would also be nice if there were equivalents to countries who were not part of the Commonwealth's Education System. I do have a better understanding of what the GCSE is and I even found the O-Levels. But I have no idea how it relates to the USA High schoo Diploma, and I have no idea how the A levels relate to the standard degrees here. Just a thought - this is not something I can contribute to. Simicich (talk) 00:19, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

...why should you need to contribute to this page? GCSE is a qualification that affects mainly British students, and I assure you nobody here would not know what you are talking about were you to mention GCSEs. The acronyms are fine as they are as they realte to a British audience. Otherwise, we could say that all American mis-spellings, such as color, traveling and gray, be made into their correct British form so as to falicitate easier understanding of what each article is trying to say. (talk) 10:22, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
What a totally stupid response to the observation. Wikipedia is designed to be read by an international audience and those who hacve an interest in a subject may wish to compare systems in countries besides their own so using acronyms without exmplanation is not helpful. You comparison with differences in spellings is truly asinine. As a Briton, I am embaressed by your comments. Dainamo (talk) 21:43, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
The GCSE does not relate to the US high school diploma. It would not be feasible to include detailed information about how this qualification compares with those awarded in the other 200 countries in the world (although Scotland is a different case). Wikipedia pages should not be biased to just one of the world's countries. However, I'd agree that the article should make it clearer to users of the encyclopedia how advanced a level of study is required for GCSE, so that users outside of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland can then compare with their understanding of qualifications they know more about.
But of course it isn't true that the acronyms should stay just because they are clear to 'British' users (meaning, from parts of the UK outside of Scotland). They should be clear (or clarifiable via Wikilinks) to users anywhere in the world. It is not the case that pages about things specific to one country should be clear above all to users in that country. (talk) 16:41, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Sorted out a bit of a mess[edit]

( was me Ameeromar (talk) 07:56, 11 July 2008 (UTC))

Zilch in the article about pass rates[edit]

Why isn't there anything about the % of A*-Cs and passes for each year? Might be something to add for those of you in the know. (talk) 17:47, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

This might help: Marthiemoo (talk) 02:08, 23 August 2008 (UTC)


It would be a lot of easier if citations were provided to reliable sources for a lot of the information in the article, currently they are very few, and it would make this article a lot more stable eliminating the need to correct it as much. I found it very difficult to copy edit this article when it came to complex sections where it is not clear what the users who added the information is trying to say with no sources to help, particularly the bit on "compulsory" subjects. Strictly following policy users can delete unsourced content that can be challenged on sight - but since that would result in this article going to bare bones I have decided not to carry this out. I am planning to attempt to add citations in a few areas eventually, and help will always be appreciated. Camaron | Chris (talk) 14:35, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes. See what I wrote above about 'compulsory'. To say 'effectively compulsory' is a bit of a lazy cop-out really. Certain subjects must be studied if the national curriculum is being followed; but it is not compulsory to follow that curriculum; only state schools are obliged to follow it. And it is not compulsory to take a GCSE in any subject. I haven't got the time to tidy up this article, but I hope you will take the above on board! Nor should the article be written in school-teachers' jargon. I'd agree that 'ICT' and 'RE' should be stated in full the first time they are used, and if acronyms are used it should only be in subsequent references. In fact that's a standard good practice for any acronym in an article such as this, meant for a general readership. (talk) 16:48, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes per WP:ABBR abbreviations should be put in full first with the abbreviation itself in brackets and then later in the article just the abbreviation can be used. For example: Religious education (RE) -> RE -> RE -> RE. Camaron | Chris (talk) 21:05, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Discussion of overall UK educational system?[edit]

Is there an article which discusses the overall role of the GSCE in the British educational system? As an American I am aware that the system is designed to adapt to the aptitude of the students, and that A-Level is reserved for those who want to continue their education for entrance into universities, while there are lower "tracks" for students that will be happy digging ditches the rest of their life.

In the United States it used to be that students of lower aptitude which do not have an interest in Shakespeare or Algebra could exit the school system at about age 14-16 to enter the menial work/labor force. This was changed so that all students must continue to age 18 and grade 12, which has generally been found to have been a bad idea since school becomes a prison for those lower aptitude students that don't care, don't want to be there, and so instead happily disrupt classes and just drag down the people who do want to go to college.

Where can I find an article discussing the lower educational tracks of the UK system, and what sort of work these students are expected to be able to do after leaving school? DMahalko (talk) 12:02, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Low importance?[edit]

This is one of the central aspects of secondary education in the UK, millions (even tens of millions?) of people have taken this exam and it receives a Low rating? I think this is wrong myself. How do we go about changing this? (talk) 21:27, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Merge of Certificate of Education (Secondary) to here[edit]

The Certificate of Education (Secondary) article has been around since 2006 and is a stub, it hasn't been expanded in that time and seems unlike to do so. It appears to have some information of value to this article, it has some External links that might be references. I placed the tag in the section I thought it may fit in the best, is there be a better section for this information? Blackash (talk) 23:28, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Since there is no opinion I merge the two. Blackash have a chat 04:11, 5 March 2010 (UTC)


Is phliosophy meant to be under religious studies, because there is a great deal of atheist philosophy criticizing religion. That isn't right, or do they ban atheist philosophy or something even though many of the most important philosophical figures were atheists? I'm worried now. (talk) 15:37, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

GCSE equivalent[edit]

I have just passed level 1 maths and would like to know what that is equal to as a gcse result (talk) 12:49, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Note: Your English is terrible, I hope you do better in your Maths!

Maybe I missed it in the article, but nowhere could I find WHY the GCSEs are taken. What is the PURPOSE of taking the tests? What are the implications or the results of passing or failing the exams (their IMPORTANCE)? As an American, I am trying to find out what are the GCSEs. Without this important information, I cannot understand or appreciate the meaning of GCSEs in British culture and society. This page needs some work to fill in the gaps and to better organize the content. Thanks. Jdevola (talk) 15:35, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

I agree. For such an important article there isn't much about the cultural context. I'll try and have a go at sorting it out. Barry m (talk) 22:29, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

GCSEs are often used as a minimum requirement for job applications, eg. applicants must have grade C or above in five subjects, including English and Maths; similarly certain minimum grades are usually a requirement to go on to further education. Possibly similar to the US High School Diploma - but I only know about that from popular culture so can't speak with any authority. It would be useful to find a reliable source comparing the cultural significance of various examinations in different countries; I will look for one. Malentaheloyse (talk) 23:57, 26 September 2015 (UTC)

weasel words?[edit]

"There have been calls from several MPs for GCSEs to be scrapped in favour of a national Diploma[by whom?]. The Department for Education does not look likely to do this at any time in the near future[weasel words]. Sir Mike Tomlinson, former head of Ofsted, also stated that GCSEs ought to be scrapped and replaced with Diplomas in August 2009[19]."

What's a weasel word and isn't that a matter of opinion? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:11, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Govian reforms in Intro[edit]

I'm tempted to remove them as out of date, considering most of it was announcements of things that haven't happened and he's also no longer Education Secretary. Barry m (talk) 22:32, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

multiple issues: GCSE / O-Level (UK) / CSE - reversion war[edit]

All three page have numerous issues, but as it appear any attempt to correct errors leads to a revision war perhaps a responsible adult fancies addressing:

Copied mainly from ( User_talk: ) but to duplicate them here:


  • However ever many times you hit revert there will still only be 10 years, not 20, between 1996 and 2006, you can verify that one on your fingers, no toes required..
  • The figures in the table I'm building: English O-Level and CSE Mathematics entrants 1977-9 are for years 1977, 1978 and 1979 (those little blue numbers after by title will take you to a LINK with the original numbers in), please leave the years alone.
  • The figures for 8+ passes, in another little table I'm building "Percentage of School-Leavers in England obtaining 'n' O-level(A-C) or CSE grade 1 pass", are: 4.5 and 4.7 - again follow the magic blue numbers to the source, and leave the numbers alone.
  • The first GCSE awards were in June 1988, so there is no pre 1988.
  • The number of subjects, syllabus content, assessment, ..... have changed considerably since those proposed in 1986, the number of subjects has increased from the ~33 in 1988, to over 120 in the list you keep removing the formatting from, the A* was introduced in 1994, controlled assessment expanded..... So please stop removing the content i'm adding, and replacing it with a "nothing changes".
  • The GCSE in not norm-referenced, so any comparison with similar awards will only be valid for the year the data was compared, in this case the comparisons were made in: 1988 and 1994.
  • There are approximately 800,000 pupils in each GCSE cohort, not 6 million, please stop replacing the count of exam scripts with the word candidates.
  • Also please stop deleting the "See also" sections, that link to other variants of the qualification.
  • removal of quoted and cited text from the OECD and Department of Education,
  • please stop removing the previous names / brands the exam boards offered GCSE's as. (talk) 18:29, 26 August 2015 (UTC) (talk) 18:33, 26 August 2015 (UTC) (talk) 20:40, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

English Baccalaureate[edit]

To add as a section or a new page? (talk) 18:02, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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