Know your Stuff | GCSEs
The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academic qualification awarded in a specified subject, generally taken in a number of subjects by students aged 14–16 in secondary education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is equivalent to a Level 2 (A*- C) and Level 1 (D- G) in Key Skills. (In Scotland, the equivalent is the Standard Grade.) Some students may decide to take one or more GCSEs before or afterwards; people may apply for GCSEs at any point either internally through an institution or externally. The education systems of other British territories, such as Gibraltar, and the former British dominion of South Africa, also use the qualifications, as supplied by the same examination boards. The International version of the GCSE is the IGCSE, which can be taken anywhere in the world, and which includes additional options, for example relating to coursework and the language used. When GCSEs are taken by students in secondary education, they can often be combined with other qualifications, such as the Business And Technology Education Council (BTEC), the Diploma in Digital Applications (DiDA), or diplomas.
Education to GCSE level is often required of students who study for the International Baccalaureate or to GCE Advanced Level (A-level). GCSE exams were introduced as the compulsory school-leavers’ examinations in the late 1980s (the first exams being taken in the summer of 1988) by the Conservative Party government, replacing the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) and GCE Ordinary Level (O-Level) examinations. In June 2012, Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education, announced plans to scrap GCSE exams and revive O-Levels.