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What Are the Easiest GCSEs?

Some people choose to study a subject at GCSE level because they find the subject interesting, whilst others will pick a subject because they want an easy pass. GCSEs are a fundamental educational qualification that everyone in the United Kingdom must sit. The grades you achieve in your GCSEs will dictate your suitability for certain job roles, as well as whether you are suitable for a higher education course. You need to have passed the GCSE for many subjects before you can go on to study that same subject at A-level. And many universities and higher education providers will look at your GCSE and A-level results to assess if you have the right level of academic capabilities you need to go on and study at higher education level.

For all of these reasons, securing the highest possible GCSE grades is important. But how can you stack the odds of a pass in your favour? Are some GCSEs easier to pass than others? Here’s everything you need to know about what the easiest GCSEs are:

What Makes a Subject Easy?

In England, you are legally required to sit GCSE Maths, GCSE English and a science component (either single science, double science, or three separate science components of biology, chemistry and physics) regardless of your skill and abilities in this subject. In fact, it’s important to ensure you work as hard as possible in your Maths and English GCSEs, because you are legally required to not only take both subjects but to pass them as well. If you do not score satisfactorily on them, you will be compelled to retake them. That takes care of a minimum of three (and maximum of five) of the subjects you should take, but with the optimal number of subjects you should take being between nine and ten, that gives you plenty of room to choose additional subjects from a range of disciplines. And for many students, their main concern is to choose subjects they feel are the easiest. So, what makes a subject easy?

Some of the things that are considered to make a subject easy include whether the examination demands an essay-style answer or takes a multiple-choice question-and-answer format. The general consensus is that multiple choice examinations are easier, but some students prefer to write longer answers, as it gives them the opportunity to really shine. And some students will shy away from multiple-choice questions because there’s nowhere to hide, you either know the answer or you don’t.

There is a school of thought that suggests that GCSEs from some exam boards are easier than those from others. One example of this is that AQA has recently limited student access to past papers from their board. This leaves students with fewer resources for their GCSE revision, which can in turn make achieving top grades harder. By contrast, CIE provides full access to all of their past papers and other extensive resources too, meaning that many students (particularly those most conscientious students committed to their revision) feel they are an easier exam board and that their exams are easier to pass.

Personal Preference

Most students will make the decision about which GCSE subjects they will take either at the beginning of key stage 4 or at the end of key stage 3. The young people making this decision tend to be around 14 years of age. Whilst some young people are very driven and know exactly what subjects they want or need to study for their future chosen career, many more have no idea what they’d like to do with their lives and don’t know what subjects would suit their future career path. The age of 14 is very young to be asked to make these lifelong choices, which is why so many young people don’t choose the right GCSEs, and instead choose to retake their GCSEs at a later stage in their life. Of course, if you are already taking GCSEs as a mature student then you will be making this decision at a much later stage, and this will not apply to you.

Though the students choosing their GCSEs are young and relatively inexperienced, that doesn’t minimise the importance of the decision: performing well in your GCSEs can have a positive impact on your whole life, whilst a less than stellar performance can have a negative impact. It stands to reason then that so many students look for the easiest possible GCSE options. The problem arises in ascertaining what those easy GCSEs are.

Much of which GCSEs you will find easy boils down to personal preference, and your personal preference is likely to be determined by your unique skill set. Every student will have individual strengths and weaknesses, and so will find some subjects more challenging than others. Foreign languages are a great example of this: a student that has grown up in a bilingual English and French household is much more likely to excel at GCSE French than a student that has never been exposed to a foreign language before. Whilst this example is obvious, it translates well into other disciplines too. If you have an analytical mind then you’re more likely to excel in business analysis than you are in drama, whilst artists will enjoy art GCSE much more than they will enjoy geography or history. The key, then, is not to think about which kind of GCSE is easy, but which GCSE is easy for you. Look at your own unique skill set and then choose the GCSEs that will complement them best: subjects that you enjoy and that best suit your abilities will always be the ones that you find easiest.

GCSE students sitting exams

Ranking of Best Pass Rates

At GCSE level, the pass rate is considered to be achieving a Grade C/Level 4 or higher. In summer of 2022, GCSE students in the United Kingdom had a pass rate of 73.2 percent across all of their examinations. But which subjects had the highest pass rate? Here are the five easiest GSCEs ranked by pass rate:

  1. GCSE Drama. GCSE Drama has a pass rate of 74.1%, making it the GCSE with one of the highest pass rates. This GCSE is fun and creative, which means that pupils are often happy to engage with it. Because students enjoy taking drama, they’re more focused on their success, and on what they learn in class, leading to better exam results and an easy GCSE.
  2. GCSE Religious Studies. This is an easy and relaxed subject with a pass rate of 71.9%. This is an incredibly high pass rate, particularly for a subject that is highly regarded by college and university admissions officers. GCSE religious studies is considered an easy pass because it is a mostly opinion-based subject: provided you can write and express your views, you should be guaranteed a good grade.
  3. GCSE Physical Education. The pass rate for GCSE physical education is 70.1%. If you enjoy exercise, then this GCSE is as fun as it is easy. Provided you enjoy sports and are able to remember a few key facts about the human body, you will have what it takes to pass this GCSE. It is important to note that you will need to have an interest in sports to be successful in this subject.
  4. GCSE Film Studies. Film studies boasts a pass rate of 64.7% and often attracts students that are looking for an easy pass. If you’re motivated, therefore, you’re likely to achieve a much higher pass rate. This is because film studies tends to attract students looking for an easy pass, rather than the most motivated students in the school. Not all of your film studies GCSE will be focused on your final examination: you’ll need to complete a few projects and independent work for the coursework component, which many students can find intimidating and explains why this isn’t the easiest GCSE on this list.
  5. GCSE Food Technology. Considered to be the easiest GCSE, food technology has a pass rate of 62.4%. The reason the pass rate percentage is slightly lower for this subject than you might expect is because it is often used as a dumping ground for students that aren’t prepared to engage or don’t have any interest in the subject matter. Food technology is considered to be a sure-fire way to get a top grade, provided you’re prepared to engage with the content and have the ability to follow a recipe.

Top Ten Easiest GCSEs

Whilst pass rate is an important indicator of how easy a GCSE is, another indicator of a GCSE’s level of difficulty is the opinion of students that have already studied it. Using these parameters to assess the ease of the GCSE arena, here are the top ten easiest GCSEs, as ranked by students:

  • GCSE Geography. The content of GCSE geography is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. Much of what you’ll learn is considered common sense, and it is also a subject that will have value in later life. Most of the questions focus on fact-recall, meaning that provided you read the textbook and have a reasonably good memory, you should be guaranteed a pass
  • GCSE Film Studies. Students consider this one of the easiest GCSEs because it is so much fun to study. This subject isn’t complicated and doesn’t involve either maths or science, meaning it is favoured by art students. If you know how to make a video on your phone and have a creative personality, you have the skills you need for a film studies GCSE
  • GCSE Religious Studies. Students consider the religious studies GCSE easy because the content is straightforward and fairly uncomplicated. There are very few facts and figures to remember: much of the examination is based on sharing your opinions. Students also point to the relative lack of coursework as a reason religious studies is so easy and so popular
  • GCSE Media Studies. Most students who study media studies report that it is both easy and enjoyable. This study is the subject of media language, representation, industries, and audiences. Because young people are so regularly exposed to the media, this is something that they understand, and that they find easy and accessible to study. What’s more, 30% of the grade is based on coursework, meaning you can do it at your own pace and without the pressure of an exam, which many students prefer
  • GCSE Hospitality and Catering. If you have ever been to a restaurant or stayed in a hotel, then you already have a good idea of what GCSE hospitality and catering involves. Students suggest this straightforward subject boasts easy exam questions, and the marking for the practical element of this subject is quite lenient. Students with practical minds and who enjoy showing their skills in a hands-on way in particular enjoy this subject
  • GCSE Business studies. Business Studies has fairly simple and self-explanatory content, very little complex maths or science is involved, and the exam questions are either multiple choice or require very little writing. So, if you’re looking for something straightforward and low effort then, provided you read the text, business studies should give you an easy win
  • GCSE Drama. Students are very passionate about GCSE drama, promoting both its ease and its enjoyability. Drama offers a good balance between practical and theoretical work, and 60% of the grade comprises two practical components. This is good news for students who don’t enjoy exams or completing written work
  • GCSE Physical Education. Students who enjoy sports and exercise are the most vocal fans of physical education GCSE and find it incredibly simple. 40% of the grade is given for demonstrating your physical skill. This is an easy GCSE with minimal written engagement, but you do have to enjoy sports and fitness to be successful in this arena
  • GCSE Design and technology. Students find GCSE design and technology easy because half the grade consists of a non-exam element, and there is no complex mathematics or science involved. According to former students, the exam is straightforward, and this combined with the hands-on nature of the course makes it one of the easiest GCSEs on this list
  • GCSE Sociology. Students suggest that sociology GCSE can deal with some complicated concepts, but it is often referred to as an “Easy A Subject” because it is so leniently marked. This means that provided you read the study materials and have an understanding of the concepts that you have been taught, you will have the skills you need to succeed. Because much of sociology’s concepts are taken from our everyday life, it’s likely that you will already be familiar with a large portion of the subject content
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