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What Are Some Easy GCSE Subjects and How to Make the Right Choices?

Contents

  1. What are the 11 GCSE subjects?
  2. What are good subjects for GCSE?
  3. What are the easiest GCSE subjects?
  4. What are the hardest GCSE subjects?
  5. Tips on picking the best easy GCSE subjects
  6. Is AQA the hardest exam board?
  7. Are IGCSEs easier than GCSEs?

 

While choosing hard or easy GCSE subjects should come down to each student and their skills and interests, there are some common favourites. We’re going to share the easiest GCSE subjects and look at them in detail to give you a good indication of what to expect. Plus, we’ll give you some top tips on making this important life decision.

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What are the 11 GCSE subjects?

 

First of all, let’s look at the 11 GCSE subjects. This list includes the 11 standard GCSE subjects and groups. Some schools have their own compulsory subjects but they’ll advise you of all the subjects available including optional and mandatory ones. 

The final four in this list are groups that subjects can be chosen from (e.g. French under Modern Foreign Languages).

  1. Maths
  2. English Language
  3. English Literature
  4. Science (biology, physics, and/or chemistry)
  5. Computing
  6. Physical Education (PE)
  7. Citizenship
  8. Arts
  9. Design and technology
  10. Humanities
  11. Modern Foreign Languages

 

What are good subjects for GCSE?

 

The following table uses data compiled from the Schools Week site that has a full list of results for each subject over the previous 3 years. We’ve taken the total percentage of students that received a grade 7, 8, or 9. From here you can see which are the easiest in recent years to score the highest grades in. 

Subject / Year

2019

2020

2021

Art & Design Subjects

22.8

29.6

30.2

Biology

43.3

54

56.7

Business Studies

18

28

33.1

Chemistry

44.1

53.5

54.9

Computing

21.4

33.4

39.2

Design & Technology

19.4

27.7

30.1

Double Science

7.5

10.4

12.2

Drama

23.6

36.8

40.6

English

17.4

23.5

26.3

English Literature

20.7

24.7

26

French

22.9

29.5

32.4

Geography 

24.5

30.1

34.2

German

22.9

33.3

37.3

History

24.6

29.4

32.3

Maths

20.4

24.3

25.9

Music

31.6

45.8

50.0

Physical Education

21.2

33.4

40.5

Physics

44.0

53.2

55.4

Religious Studies

30.5

35.0

37.7

Spanish

25.7

31.9

33.8

 

Is history or geography better for GCSE?

 

The answer to this question will ultimately boil down to an individual’s preference. If you’re interested in one of these GCSE subjects then that’s great because learning subjects is always easier if you’re motivated to study

However, if you like both and are choosing between the two then the next question you should ask yourself is whether you need either for further education if you’ve mapped out your career path

We know that you’re probably still asking yourself, “is history GCSE hard vs geography though?”. Well, geography does tend to be seen as an “easy” GCSE. But if we compare some stats, they fair about the same.

As we saw in the table above, they both provide a good opportunity for getting great grades. In 2021, 34.2 per cent of geography students received a 7, 8, or 9, and for history, the result was 32.3 per cent. If we look at the other end of the spectrum the lowest grades awarded to students in both these GCSE subjects in 2021 were very similar. 

Grade / Subject

History

Geography

3

11.4

11.5

2

7.2

7.1

1

3.9

3.7

 

What are the easiest GCSE subjects?

 

If you’re looking for the easiest GCSE subjects to take, let’s look at what the general consensus of students who’ve taken them is.

The easiest GCSEs as ranked by students

It’s a useful measure to see how students themselves feel about the subjects. The British Exams lists the top 10 easiest GCSEs as reported by students:

  1. Geography
  2. Film Studies
  3. Religious Studies
  4. Media Studies
  5. Hospitality and Catering
  6. Business Studies
  7. Drama
  8. Physical Education
  9. Design and Technology
  10. Sociology

Let’s look at why each of these has made it to the “easiest GCSE” list. Just remember that this is all down to the individual and what one teen finds a breeze can be a real challenge to another student and vice versa. This also isn’t meant to trivialise these subjects because making this list doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant or important.

  • Geography 

Geography is simple to understand and much of the content is common knowledge. You will be able to relate a lot of the learnings to real-life making it easier for many than maths, for example. As we saw in the table above, 34.2 per cent of students received a grade 7, 8, or 9 in 2021 for this subject. 

The subject spans a variety of topics from physical geography (e.g. climate or rivers) to human geography (e.g. cultural, political). When it comes to exam time, as you would expect with geography it is straightforward and focused on facts and what you have learned in class. This makes it less subjective as a subject and the road to success clear and unambiguous. 

  • Film Studies

This comes as no surprise and most students are aware that this subject can be a lot of fun. It essentially involves watching films and critically analysing them by comparing their lighting, cinematography and other relevant aspects. 

If you are one of the vast majority that is glued to the screen and actually appreciate a great film, this can be a good option. 

  • Religious Studies

Students generally consider Religious Studies to be straightforward and the syllabus is short. It covers the basic religious beliefs of popular religions and also touches upon philosophical aspects and issues as well as religion in society.

The exams are essay-based so if you are good at writing and formulating an argument backed by evidence you should find this easy. As we saw in the table above, 37.7 per cent of students received a grade of 7, 8, or 9 in 2021 for this subject. 

  • Media Studies

Media Studies has long been cited as one of the most engaging subjects. By nature, it is full of debate and interesting discussions. What’s more, in our heavily media-driven times, most students find it highly relevant and easy to analyse. 

  • Hospitality and Catering

This subject has two main components: theory and practical. Students will learn about the industry including key factors such as financial viability. The practical side includes preparing dishes which obviously has its appeal for many students. 

  • Business Studies

Why is business GCSE easy? Business Studies is based on common sense and the level of maths is not considered too difficult by most. It focuses on different kinds of businesses and how contributing factors impact them (e.g. laws, finances). As we saw in the table above, 33.1 per cent of students received a grade 7, 8, or 9 in 2021 for this subject. 

  • Drama

Studying drama allows you to express your own ideas and emotions through practical demonstrations and discussions. You also learn about theatre concepts such as lighting, props, etc. A written exam is still required but most of the course is made up of practical components. For this reason, if you shy away from exams but not from the stage it’s a great compromise. 

  • Physical Education

Students generally love physical education because nearly half of the grade comes from practical performance. However, there is still a theory component that is based on biology and there are also topics on different types of exercise and wellbeing. 

  • Design and Technology  

This subject doesn’t have complex maths or science and would give you the opportunity to learn about new technologies, materials and other technical principles. Half of the grade is based on a practical component so it’s another great choice if you don’t thrive in an exam setting. 

  • Sociology

Many students find this a fascinating subject because of the topics covered such as poverty, crime, and types of families. If you study hard and learn the concepts, practise past papers and know the essay structure expected, then you should do well. 

What are the hardest GCSE subjects?

You may want to avoid the hardest GCSE subjects if you’re not academically inclined and you don’t need those subjects for further education. Future-proofing your options should always be taken into consideration when deciding on subjects. 🎓

The hardest GCSE subject was decided as Further Maths by a consensus of students on The British Exams site. Some students will thrive in this subject though and if you are already doing well at maths there would be no reason to avoid it because it’s on the “hard” list. 

What is the hardest GCSE, in order

  1. Further Maths
  2. Chemistry
  3. Physics
  4. English Literature
  5. Maths
  6. Computer Science
  7. Economics
  8. Biology
  9. English Language
  10. Modern Foreign Languages

We know you came here looking for the easiest GCSE subjects, but this list highlights some important factors. If you take physics, chemistry, and biology which make the “hard” list, they came at the top of the list of high-scoring subjects in 2021:

  • Biology - 56.7 per cent of students were graded a 7, 8, or 9
  • Physics - 55.4 per cent of students were graded a 7, 8, or 9
  • Chemistry - 54.9 per cent of students were graded a 7, 8, or 9

So, while they may require dedicated study and concentration, they also provide an excellent opportunity for getting good grades. The moral of the story is don’t be afraid of subjects on these lists or any others out there. With that, let’s look at how you pick the best GCSE subjects that will be both easy (enough) and rewarding.

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Tips on picking the best easy GCSE subjects

 

Picking GCSE subjects usually happens around year nine but it does vary between schools. This can be a very daunting task, especially as it can feel like your whole life depends on it. If you need to pick your subjects, there are some definite dos and don’ts that you can follow or avoid. 

How to pick the right easy GCSE subjects

If you are 100 per cent (or even 90 per cent) certain of your career path and you need to go to university or further education for it, you should always choose GCSE subjects that are prerequisites. 

If you have no idea what you want to do with your future, you certainly won’t be alone. 🤷🏽‍♀️ The benefit here is you can literally choose any of the easy GCSE subjects without worrying about the impact too much at this stage. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy your chosen subjects as you progress and this will be much truer if you choose subjects that play to your strengths and/or interests. 

For the many that don’t know what they want to be when they “grow up”, another top tip is to keep your selection broad. By studying a different range of subjects it helps to leave your options open. You will also work out what areas you like more and this can help guide you when you’re considering your A-level choices or whether to go to university

Having said that, it’s not always a smart choice to take on too many subjects. The more subjects that you have to study for, the less time you can dedicate to each. While this can work out fine for some students, it can also be overwhelming and bring their grades down in the end. 

How to avoid picking the wrong easy GCSE subjects

There are a couple of pitfalls that many students fall into when deciding on their GCSEs. The number one move to avoid is choosing a subject because one or more of your friends are taking it unless you are actually interested in it, of course. 

In a similar vein, it’s not wise to pick a subject because of the teacher. Even if they are the coolest, most interesting teacher at the school, there are no guarantees you will get that teacher or that that teacher won’t change schools, take a career break, etc. 

Don’t just pick easy GCSE subjects because they sound fun. You have to have some interest or skill in the area if you’re going to truly succeed. While many students might do well in music if you aren’t musically oriented you’re going to struggle even though it’s “easy” to some. 

Picking the right subjects always comes down to the individual. If you excel at a certain subject and enjoy it, then that is a great reason to choose it. It can be tempting for your parents to try to persuade or influence you too. However, at the end of the day, if they are pushing you in a direction that feels wrong, it’s best to listen to your gut.

 

Is AQA the hardest exam board?

 

Something else you need to consider as if subjects alone weren’t enough is the exam board that your school uses. There are three exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, and OCR. Why does this matter? Well, the different boards are known for being harder on certain subjects and easier on others. Of course, this is also subjective but it's worth bearing in mind. 

The varying exam boards also mean that you could get a better grade than a student with higher marks at a different school with another exam board or vice versa. 🤔 That’s because the grades awarded are based on grade boundaries. 

 

Are IGCSEs easier than GCSEs?

 

To work out whether IGCSE is harder than GCSE or vice versa it’s worthwhile explaining any differences first.

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is similar to the GCSE and is recognised in the UK as equivalent. The IGCSEs were developed by the University of Cambridge International Examinations to offer English language-based exams overseas. 

One of the main differences is that students receive an IGCSE qualification for each subject they take. Both the IGCSE and GCSE use the same grading. 

Some independent schools in the UK offer IGCSEs as an alternative to following the GCSE for international IGCSE subjects. This is largely because prior to the changes made to GCSE in 2017 the IGCSE was considered more difficult than the national curriculum. 

 

What are the easiest IGCSE subjects?

 

The Department of Education compared the two qualifications in 2019 and determined it was easier to get an A in English Language and English Literature in IGCSEs but more difficult to get an A in Sciences. Most of the other subjects are on par with each other. 

If your school offers IGCSE syllabuses you’ve probably heard of them as Cambridge International Certificates. They are mostly found in private schools. If you are falling behind in any IGCSE or GCSE subjects, we have tutors that specialise in each. You can book a free trial to see just how beneficial private one-on-one classes can be. 

Hopefully, now you can answer questions like “is history a hard GCSE?” or “is drama one of the easy GCSE subjects?”. Looking at previous years’ results can help to paint a picture of how students felt about subjects they took and which were the easiest or hardest. 

🙌 When you are ready to decide, remember less can be more, go with your strengths, and don’t shy away from a “hard” subject if you need it for uni or further education. After all, GCSEs aren’t meant to be a walk in the park so some effort is going to be needed to do well in any of the subjects. 

If you are enthusiastic and passionate about a topic, studying won’t feel so gruelling and you might even get to enjoy it along the way!

 

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