Options in year 8 or 9

If you are in year 8 or 9, at some point, you will need to choose what you’re going to study until the end of year 11. This will usually be GCSEs, but at some schools, other qualifications are also available.

Everyone has to study the ‘core’ subjects: English, maths and science. This is important, because no matter what you do with your life, it’s likely that people will want to know the English and maths grades you got at school! Universities, colleges, apprenticeship providers and employers agree that English and maths matter. Sciences are also important for many options after year 11, and there are more and more jobs that require science skills.

At most schools, you will also need to study ‘foundation’ subjects, including citizenship, computing and PE.

You will be given choices about what else to study. How this works will depend on your school. They will give you and your parents/carers more information. Most schools produce an options booklet and hold an options event.

When choosing your options, you should think about the following:

  • what are you good at?
  • what do you enjoy?
  • what are you interested in studying after year 11?
  • what jobs are you interested in doing in the future?

It's a good idea to find out about different jobs and what qualifications they require.  If you’re not sure what jobs you’re interested in, some sites include a careers quiz to help you get some ideas.

You could look at what college / 6th form courses or apprenticeships that you might be interested in after year 11. This will give you an idea of what GCSEs (or equivalent) are needed. Check out our options after year 11 page for more information.

Finally, it’s a good idea to speak to people, such as:

  • teachers – they will know what subjects you are best at
  • parents/carers or older family members – they know you well and may also have ideas (but remember: education pathways and the world of work have changed since they were your age)
  • friends – it’s great to share ideas and information, but don’t choose a subject just because your friends are doing it
  • careers advisers –  they will have the latest information and are specially trained to help you decide what’s best for you.