Are GCSEs really hard?

When you are in year 11, you have the biggest fear of taking up GCSEs. Your GCSEs are the basic academic qualifications and thus you must work hard to get good grades in them. During the time of taking GCSEs, many people would have told you about the difficulty level of the exam. However, it is important to know whether they are tough or not.

Quick Takeaways

  • Whether the GCSE qualification is hard or not, will depend upon the person itself. 
  • If you are a person who is interested in studying practical subjects, then taking up GCSE may be a tough choice. 
  • The hardest GCSEs are – Further Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and English.

However, you must read till the end so that you do not miss any important facts related to how hard GCSEs are.

Are GCSEs really hard?

Are GCSEs really hard?

GCSEs are the main factor in deciding which A-levels you will be choosing in the future. Therefore they are tough to study. Furthermore, depending upon the school you are studying in, you will need to choose 9-10 GCSEs to study. This makes it even harder to study for it. Though how hard GCSEs are for you will also depend upon the subjects you have chosen.

If you are a person who loves practical subjects like math or science, and you are keeping history as your GCSE, obviously you will find it hard to study. Thus you will need to wait until the mid-late end for finishing the GCSEs. However, if we compare GCSEs to other qualifications, then it is not as difficult as others. Thus it all varies from person to person and also on the subjects and the type of exams that you have taken. Also, you must always remember the starting date of the exams so that you study hard for them. If you are finding them hard, you may avoid taking them and look for high-paying jobs without GCSEs.

Types of GCSEs

There are several GCSEs that you need to take care of and you can resist them at any age you want to. Two types of GCSEs are mentioned below-

Foundation tier

The exams taken in this tier are generally easier. However, it doesn’t mean that you will be getting a 9 grade for it. The maximum grade that you can get for this type of exam is grade five. This is because the foundation tier generally has an easy curriculum and thus it is easy to pass the exam. If you are taking up the foundation tier, you will not get a lot of stress to pass it.

Are GCSEs really hard?

Higher tier

These exams are more difficult than the upper ones. The maximum grade that you can get for these exams is grade 9. Though to get a grade of 9 you will need to do a lot of hard work, as the curriculum of these exams is tough in nature. This exam gives you a chance of getting higher grades.

How are the GCSEs graded?

Traditionally your GCSEs were graded on the basis of alphabetic orders. The grades that you A*-G. During this system, the standard pass for GCSE was the grade C. A* was the highest grade that you could achieve during the exams and the G was the lowest grade that you can get in the exam. 

However, the current system of grading has changed and shifted towards the numerical grading system. The grading system in it is from 9-1. This means that when you get grade 9, it is the highest grade 1 is the lowest one. The passing grade in this system is 4 (normal pass) and 5 (strong pass). Thus you must try to get good scores in your GCSE.

What is the hardest GCSE to take?

When you are choosing the GCSEs, you must remember that these are qualifications that will never expire and thus you must choose them wisely. Following are the top most hard GCSEs taken-

1. Further math

As the name suggests, this exam is a more advanced version of normal math. This is mostly taken by the students who are thinking of making their career in math. It is also a subject that is commonly accepted by the employer.

Are GCSEs really hard?

2. Chemistry

This is a subject that involves math in itself. It is one of the most common requirements for getting into the engineering or STEM stream. The curriculum of different processes, organic chemistry, etc makes it in the list of top 5 hardest subjects. However, having this subject will also help you to get A-level chemistry.

3. Physics

Again, this is a subject that will help you to enter STEM-related streams. This subject is tough as you will be studying various theories along with math. You will need to give a lot of practicals along with the theory part to clear this type of exam. In addition to it, this is one of the subjects that has the most content math in it.

4. Maths

Obviously, you will also agree that this is one of the subjects that must be on this list. You must know that this is one of the subjects that are compulsory to pass. Thus you must know, how many GCSEs you will be getting for these compulsory subjects.

Are GCSEs really hard?

5. English Literature

English literature is one of the subjects that involve a lot of difficult content to study. The pass rate for GCSE English is only about 72.9%. This shows how hard it is to clear GCSE English literature. To get good grades you will need to study the content and also need to focus on your communication skills. It is an important GCSE that plays an important role in getting the A-levels.


GCSEs are the base for getting higher studies. Thus you need to focus to get good grades in them. You must know that the course curriculum in GCSE is much tougher. However, how hard your GCSE is will depend on the subject you have to choose and the type of exam you have taken. Generally, there are two types of GCSE exams – Foundation and Higher tier. The Foundation tier is much easier than the high tier. Though, you can get the highest grade of five in the foundation tier and grade 9 in a higher tier.


Is it hard to get a 9 in GCSE?

GCSEs are grades on the basis of the current grading system i.e 9-1 (with 9 being the highest grade in the system). Honestly speaking, it is definitely difficult to get a grade of 9 in your GCSEs, as you will need to study a lot to qualify for the exams.

However, it will depend upon the subjects you have taken and how well you have prepared for the exams. There are many students who are able to get grade 9 in their GCSEs.  

Is a 7 good in GCSEs?

Getting a grade of 7 in your GCSE is a very good grade. If we consider it as the old grading system, getting a grade of 7 is equal to an A grade. The normal pass grade for GCSE is grade 4 and a strong pass is grade 5.
Above that, it is considered as getting a position of merit. Though getting a grade of 7 means that you are getting distinction which means that you have gotten the highest position in the exams.

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