Should I take History GCSE?


Should I take History as a GCSE?

The two most important questions you need to consider when deciding whether to take history or not are

·                       Do I enjoy the subject?

·                       Am I good at the subject?

If the answer to both those questions is yes, then the answer to the big question is also probably yes! You know the answer to the first question and you should know the answer to the second question, but you should ask your history teacher for advice if you are unsure. There are also some other important things to consider when making your final choice...

I want to be a doctor/engineer/nail beautician/circus freak. I like history, but it doesn't fit with my career plans. What should I do?

It is true that History lends itself more easily to reading/writing/research based careers like Law and Journalism, but there is no reason why history shouldn't fit with any career ambition. History is an academic subject and one of the subjects that comprises the new English Baccalaureate, as such it is respected by employers, colleges and universities alike. We have had students study History at A level who have gone on to study Medicine and Art and Design at University. A Levels tend to be the time to specialise and select courses appropriate to your ambition. At GCSE you have much more freedom in your choices. And if you want to be a circus freak, your GCSE choices won't matter, you were just born that way. 

What careers does it fit well with?

History at GCSE opens up A Level courses in English Literature and Language, Law, Media Studies, Psychology, Sociology, Politics, Philosophy and Performance Studies. In terms of degree it has strong links to Law, English Literature, Economics and Politics with many Universities offering Joint Honours degrees in these subjects. It is also strongly associated with Journalism, Media and Education.

Is it hard? I've heard it's hard.

There's no denying history is a demanding subject, but that's what makes it worth doing. If you are good at history then you won't find it hard. If you have no problem with reading and revising information, it's not hard. If you can write well, it's not hard. If you can think for yourself, you'll be fine. If any of those things bring you out in a cold sweat, then it might be worth considering a subject with more colouring in.

Is it like Year 9?

In many ways its very similar. The skills you were taught in year 9, like source analysis and essay writing are developed at GCSE. Along with learning the facts of what actually happened, these are the two most important skills you'll be taught. In terms of the content, it's more detailed than in year 9. You'll be expected to learn key dates, names and events and be able to explain them. That's not to say its all writing all the time...

Is it all writing, all the time?

No. Just like in years 7 to 9, we appreciate that everyone learns in different ways and we try and keep as much active learning in the lessons as we possibly can when covering content. That said, history is a written subject that requires you write extended answers and essays. You will be taught how to write appropriately structured and detailed answers.

What if I mess up? Can I retake?

GCSE History is modular. You will sit your Unit 1 exam at the end of year 10. If you do choke for whatever reason, you will have the chance to resit Unit 1 at the end of year 11. This is not an excuse to cruise through year 10 - this is a reason to work hard. If you ace the exam in year 10, that's nearly 40% of your exam in the bag and an hour and 45 minutes of hell you won't have to go through again, not to mention the extra stress of revising for a retake alongside all of your other exams in year 11. You cannot resit Unit 2.

Are there any trips?

Yes. We go on a day trip Ypres in Belgium to visit the war graves of Tyne Cot and Langmark, a recreated World War One trench complex in Sanctuary Wood and the town of Ypres itself in what has become a firmly established favourite of students and staff. We also go on a field trip to the Imperial War Museum to help prepare students for their coursework. 

What kind of grade could I get?

All students take the same examination papers and can achieve any grade up to an A*.

Do we have coursework?

Yes. Unit 3 is assessed by controlled assessment. Students will write one 800 word essay and one 1200 word essay. These are internally assessed and moderated.