Are GCSE’s Really As Important As We Think?

It has slowly become one of the most common questions asked by parents and that is the importance of GCSEs. The subject as to whether the end of school exams even really matter; and what other options the child has after education, with the grades that they receive.

As a 16-year-old preparing to finally step into the real world, it may seem as though these exams are the most important thing in their life. While failing these exams could possibly lead them to not succeed in the future, missing out on the career of their dreams. This is far from the case.

Within this blog, we will look at the true importance of GCSEs in your child’s future and what impact lower results can have on your child. 

By discussing just how important these exams really are, you can present to your child a clearer picture of the importance of GCSEs, but also their future educational path after they have completed their GCSEs. 


What are GCSEs?

For those not yet familiar with GCSEs, what are they? GCSEs are short for General Certificate of Secondary Education and are a form of academic qualification completed at the end of their secondary school years in year 10 and 11. 

What are GCSEs used for? 

When it comes to discovering the importance of GCSEs, looking at what GCSEsare used for is recommended. Not just another example forced upon secondary school pupils, there is value and purpose in these exams.

The best way to explain the value of GCSEs and that is as the gatekeeper to the next step within the students’ education. By possessing good grades, the student can go on to study at their intended college or sixth form of their course of choice. 

The older you get, the less important GCSEs become, but when it comes to your first job and getting accepted into the high schools sixth form, having satisfactory results is preferable. 

With good GCSEs important in helping students get into their college or sixth form of choice, but also on to their intended course. For students wishing to study topics such as law or economics, this course will require the completion and attainment of certain grades for your chosen course.

College and Sixth Form

When it comes to continuing within education, the received results obtained during their GCSEs will be reviewed. With certain A Levels requiring a minimal GCSE, in order to get onto the course of their choice, working hard and achieving the best results is a must. 

Typically, many educational centres will ask students to achieve at least five 9-4 grades in their exams before being able to be accepted into their institution. 

In research conducted by Which, it was highlighted that potential colleges judge these grades as an indicator, to target how well they believe the student will do in their A-levels. Similarly, depending on the number of GCSE exams passed determines which level of education the college can put the child in. For example, level 1, 2 or 3.

If they find that the child will succeed well enough to help raise the college exam rate stats and make a genuine effort to learn, then they will most likely be accepted. However, if they find that the child may not have done enough in their GCSEs; they will likely decline the application. 

Do universities look at GCSEs?

If you think that GCSEs are only important for getting into college or a sixth form, then think again. Many universities will look at the students received GCSE grades before choosing to offer them a place. 

For some university courses there may be a minimal GCSE grade that could be required by the pupil, along with relevant A-level results. 

Universities will advertise the required grade, while even the possession of lower GCSE grades could prevent and limit the number of universities that students could apply.  

When applying for universities in the future, many will expect a student to have a minimum of a grade C or 4 in Maths, English and in some cases, Science, depending on their chosen course. However, the final GCSE grade is often not focused upon, with the predicted A-Level grade being more important.

The only time when the GCSE grades will be taken into account is in the most important process; the initial University application. This is because when applications open, the students are yet to take their A level exams. With only predicted grades available, their GCSE can give an example of what they have achieved in the past.

Just like college, the University will look at the link between the GCSE grades and the potential A-Levels. This is to see just how they may perform in their selected subject at the chosen university of choice.

GCSEs and Apprenticeships

Some apprenticeships require the applicant to hold satisfactory GCSE exam results, with many requiring a minimum of five GCSEs including English and Maths, helping to show the importance of GCSEs

Yet, depending on the type of job the student is applying for determines how advanced the exam results need to be. 

However, luckily for some, specific apprenticeships or traineeships only ask for the applicant to have a small set of qualifying skills. For example, good work ethic, customer service and even just the ability to speak fluent English can get the individual accepted for their chosen apprenticeship. These skills can be proven through examples of work experience, or even using the time at school as a reference. 


Can GCSEs affect future career paths?

For many career paths, the importance of GCSEs may be required. With engineering roles requiring the possession of GCSE in science and maths for them to get accepted into A-Levels and their chosen course, GCSEs are essential. 

For those students dreaming of becoming a doctor, high maths, science and even English grades are essential.

Looking for a weekend job? With an empty CV, GCSE grades are key to helping you to take those first steps onto the career ladder and start earning.  

What if you don’t get the expected grades? 

When it comes to your GSCEs and the sheer amount of hard work, research and dedication, you can excuse the disappointment in pupils who do not receive their expected grades. 

But, what happens when the students receive a lower grade than they desired? Although it feels like the end of the world in this circumstance, it is not. 

Students will have a number of choices to make if they find themselves in this unfortunate situation. Either to resit their exam, apply for a different course or even consider an apprenticeship. 

With options still available for the pupils, reviewing the situation with a clear head is advised. 


The importance of GCSEs in a students education is a factor that should not be overlooked. The possession of well owned GCSEs can ensure that the student gets into college, progresses to university and even gets their first job. With teachers and potential employers looking at the pupils’ GCSE, working hard and having good grades can help get the pupil in their next chapter, whatever that may be.

However, this is not always the case. Sometimes a child can face a few mishaps throughout their GCSEs, making it vital to try far harder in their next. In doing this, any possibilities of failing or getting a ‘specific grade’, making it harder for the student to get into their course of college of their choice. 

If your child does find themselves failing their exams, with a bit of hard work and dedication, students can resist their GCSE until the age of 18, compulsory for those pupils who fail either maths of English

There is no saying how successful a person can become just from their GCSE exams. Although they are used and judged quite a lot; many places will overlook the numbers and focus on skills, personality and potential the person has to progress. They do this, considering the pupil can  prove they can work hard and have a good work ethic. Therefore, in some instances, GCSE’s do not matter as much as many perceive, and the pressure put onto students is extremely unnecessary due to the choices they have if the grades do not work out as hoped.

What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts on the importance of GCSEs. Has your child progressed and gained opportunities through the final grade of their GCSE exams? Let us know below.

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