GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)
GCSEs are the main qualification taken by 14-16 year olds. They involve studying the theory of a subject, with some investigative work and depending on the subject, some practical work. Usually they take up two to three hours of teaching time per week over two years. GCSEs are graded A*-G and U (Unclassified). Some subjects have two tiers: Higher Tier GCSEs lead to A*-D grades, Foundation Tier GCSEs lead to C-G grades.
GCSEs are mainly assessed through externally marked exams. Some have elements assessed through controlled assessments (supervised coursework). This is because subjects have different requirements such as speaking (Modern Foreign Langauges) and performing (Music and Drama).