What should I do after GCSEs

Your GCSEs are over, but what on earth will you do next? From further study to the world of work, read on to start exploring what's right for you.

If you were born after September 1997, you have to stay in education or training until you’re 18. So it’s worth giving a lot of thought to what you want to do next.

Talk to your form tutor about your GCSE results

Whatever your results, it’s worth chatting to the one person (other than your parent/s or carer) who has kept a professional eye on your educational progress. Your form tutor can help you to go through the options available.

Consult a careers advisor

Whatever you choose to do, it’s important that you feel you’ve considered all the choices available. It keeps regret to a minimum, and gives you every chance of developing your skills and life experience in a way that suits you. Long before your GCSE results are in, your school careers advisor can go through your options and help you to make an informed decision.

Depending on where you live will depend on who else you can talk to:

  • In England you can get in contact with National Careers Service. They provide telephone, online, or face to face advice.
  • In Scotland you can contact the Young Scot helpline on 0808 801 0338.
  • In Wales you can talk to someone at Careers Wales.

Staying on at your school’s sixth form

This is your chance to continue in education with a view to qualifying for higher education (i.e. a degree course) at 18, or pursuing a vocational course that gives you vital skills when it comes to entering the job market.

Sixth form may be an option at your school, in which case it’s pretty much a question of heading back through the gates for the autumn term. You’ll know what to expect in terms of the working environment and teaching staff and you’ll usually find that, as a member of the sixth form, you are treated as more of an adult, too.

Studying at your local college

Alternatively, you can enrol at your local college of Further Education (FE). The courses on offer may be similar, but in general FE colleges offer a more relaxed atmosphere in which to learn. The dress code is practically non-existent and timetables often build in a lot of ‘home study’ time.

This may sound appealing, but much depends on your personality and drive as you will be left to your own devices a lot more than at school. If you do opt for college and learn how to motivate yourself, however, it is a great dry run for university, where it is expected that you will be driven to push yourself.

Choosing the right qualifications

So, you’ve decided where you are going to study, now it’s time to decide what to study. If you already have a game plan for your future degree or career, it’s important to find out what A-level qualifications you need to get there.

Otherwise, think about what you enjoyed studying at GCSE and whether further study in that area appeals to you. It’s not always about academics, though. Vocational courses or apprenticeships are a great way of learning a particular trade and can be just as useful and rewarding as going the university route.

For more detailed information about the options available to you, here’s our breakdown of the main post-GCSE qualifications on offer.

Picture of boy by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015