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GCSEs are essential qualifications that are used to assess an individual’s suitability for both employment and higher education. You cannot study for A-level qualifications without having secured GCSE qualifications, and many career paths will also require that you have completed relevant GCSEs too. The most important GCSE subjects are considered to be maths and English, and without these courses, you may find it difficult to pursue your career or academic goals.
Whilst everyone between the age of 14-16 in the UK must study for GCSEs in school, many people choose to study for GCSEs remotely in later life. The most popular way to do this is within an online learning environment. But who can study for online GCSE qualifications? And how long will it take to pass your GCSE exams? Here’s everything you need to know about online GCSE courses:
Why Study GCSEs Online?
There are a huge number of reasons why an individual of any age might choose to study for GCSEs online. Some of the main advantages of opting for online study rather than physical study include:
- Convenience. Online learning allows you to study from any location and at a time and schedule that best suits you. Because there are no physical classes to attend, this means that you can save time and money on travelling and that you can study around other commitments such as your employment or home life.
- Speed. Earning a GCSE online is typically a much faster process than studying for the same qualification in a school or college environment. If you want to upskill and gain the qualifications you need for a new career or learning opportunity quickly, then online learning is likely to be the best way to do so.
- Affordability. Studying for your GCSEs online is considerably more affordable than studying for them in person. This is particularly important if you are hoping to study more than one subject as the costs involved can quickly add up. Online GCSEs are just as reputable as in-person courses, and you will take your examinations with the same exam boards. This means that the only difference between an online GCSE course and an in-person course is how much it will cost.
Who Can Study Online GCSEs?
There are very few limits on who is able to study for online GCSEs. GCSEs are the main qualification taken by 14 to 16-year-olds, and over 5.7 million GCSE entries were made in the UK in the summer of 2022. But whilst the vast majority of GCSEs are taken within school environments, GCSEs are available to students of any age with no entry requirements, and the most popular way to take GCSEs outside of a formal school environment is via online learning.
Some online learning environments are exclusively for adults aged 16 or over, but some will accept applications from students of all ages and there are no restrictions on how old you must be to study for a GCSE course, provided that you can read and understand the course materials. The youngest ever GCSE student passed a maths GCSE at just five years of age and went on to secure a place at Cambridge University. There is no upper age limit on who can study for GCSEs either: so if you are retired and interested in the mental health benefits of continued education for older people then studying for a GCSE in a subject you find interesting is a great way to improve your cognitive functioning.
Online learning provides the flexibility to study around your work and home life commitments, giving you the freedom to choose how and where you will study, and this is incredibly appealing to students of all ages. All you need to do is have a set amount of time you can dedicate to your studies each week, and you’ll have the GCSE qualifications you want or need faster than you might expect.
How Long Do Online GCSEs Take?
One of the most attractive elements of studying for a GCSE online is that you can set your own work schedule. This means that you can study on a full-time basis or a part-time basis, and some students even choose to cram their lessons into a short period of time so that their GCSE can be completed as soon as possible. It is recommended that the average GCSE student allows between one to two years to complete their studies, however, because every student is different, only you can set the pace that will work best for you.
When deciding how long to allow yourself to complete your online GCSEs, and when you should schedule your final examinations, you should take into account the following factors:
- How much time you can dedicate to your study schedule and whether you plan to study on a full-time or a part-time basis.
- The way in which you prefer to learn: are you a visual or auditory learner, for example? There are four main learning styles. These are Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinaesthetic. There are many benefits to understanding which type of learning style suits you best, and some kinds of learners tend to learn faster than others.
- The subject you choose to study. Some subjects historically have a higher level of difficulty than others, and some subjects require more extensive and time-consuming research or coursework than others. This will have a big impact on how long your studies will take. If you already have a strong grasp of maths and mathematics concepts, for example, you are likely to find this subject requires less study time and research than one with facts and figures to remember, such as history or physics.
- Do you have any important prior commitments that may take you away from your learning? If you have a wedding, birth, or any important work deadlines looming then these are likely to dramatically impact your ability to focus on your studies.
- When can you set your exam date? Because exams take place at set times throughout the year, and you cannot complete your GCSE until you have sat your examinations, the length of time until the next exam period will also play a significant role in determining how long your online GCSE will take to complete.
How Do You Study for GCSEs Online?
Each online learning provider will have their own unique approach to supporting their learners as they study for GCSEs online. When you choose to work with the Online Learning College to secure your GCSEs, you will be given access to an online campus, which is a purpose-designed online learning environment. Each student is provided with their own personal login and password, and therefore each student’s online campus will be unique and personalised to meet their own needs. You will find your course materials, assignments, and other key information within this online campus, and can work through this at your own pace. You set your own work schedule and manage your own workload, meaning that you can completely personalise your study time to best suit you. Your online learning campus will include:
- 24/7 access to all of the materials and resources for each course that you are enrolled on. You can access these materials 365 days a year, meaning that you really can work at the time and place that best suits you.
- Access to your online campus will begin from the minute you enrol. That means if you want to strike whilst the iron is hot and start studying for your GCSEs right away then you will be able to do so.
- To enable constant communication and access to your tutor when you need it, chat and messaging systems are integrated directly into the online campus.
- All of your completed reports and assignments can be uploaded directly to the online campus. This will save you time and ensure that you always know where all of your completed work and other key resources are.
- The online campus servers are completely secure. This means that your work is kept safely within your own e-portfolio and no one else can gain access to it but you, and your tutors.
- The online campus features a handy progress bar which is designed to show how much of your work you have completed and what percentage of your tasks you have left to complete before you finish your course.
- If you have any problems then you will find a detailed help centre within your online campus. This help centre will include step-by-step instructions on getting the most from your course and how to upload assignments and contact your tutor.
This online campus system is unique to the Online Learning College. Other distance learning providers will have their own systems, and these may look very different, or relatively similar to our own. When you study with the Online Learning College, you will find that studying is incredibly simple and straightforward.
How Much Are Online GCSE Courses?
If you are in full-time school education and are under the age of 18, then the cost to study for your GCSEs and then sit your examinations is completely free. All young people are given the opportunity to study for GCSEs and the cost of this is paid for by the government in full. However, if you decide to resit your GCSEs because you did not get the results you were hoping for or expected, choose to study for GCSEs in different subjects, or return to education to study for GCSEs later in life then you can expect to pay for your courses independently.
The costs involved in studying for a GCSE course depend on where you choose to study. In-person courses in a college or classroom setting are considerably more expensive because those types of colleges have higher overheads: they must pay for full-time in-person staff, rent and maintenance costs for their property, and power and energy costs too. On top of this, students attending in-person colleges tend to have more personal expenses, particularly transportation costs to enable them to get to and from their setting.
Online study is not only more convenient then, but also more affordable. With their reduced overheads, online colleges are able to offer cheaper courses whilst still offering the same quality and the same levels of qualification. Some examples of GCSE courses from the Online Learning College are detailed below:
GCSE Business Course – Enrol from £40, total course cost £375
GCSE Mathematics and English Course – Enrol from £60, total course cost £525
IGCSE English Language Course – Enrol from £40, total course cost £375
IGCSE Physics – Enrol from £40, total course cost £375
Can I Sit the Exams Anytime?
Whilst you can study for your GCSE and complete any coursework and assessments online, you must enrol yourself as a private student with an examination or GCSE centre in order to sit your final exams in a controlled environment. It is straightforward to find the exam centre closest to you and to ensure that you register correctly using the simple Online Learning College guide. You should expect to pay a private GCSE fee for each examination you take in a private exam centre. This fee ranges from £37 to £200 per exam, depending on the centre, so you should shop around if you want to find the most affordable centre that meets your needs.
You can begin studying for your GCSE course with an online learning provider whenever suits you best, with the average course taking between 12-18 months to complete. But one of the most frequently asked questions about online GCSE courses is if you can start your course anytime? Can you sit your exams anytime? Or will you need to wait until a set exam period? The frequency of examinations and the period in which you can sit each exam will depend on the course you are taking and its popularity.
Exam dates are set by each exam board and are set on a national level. For the most popular courses, spaces can fill up quickly which means that you should book your exam space at least six months in advance to be guaranteed a spot. This makes it difficult to give exact dates for when you can sit your chosen examination, and you should discuss this directly with both your learning provider and your examination board. Almost all GCSE exams can be taken at the end of the school academic year, with the exams being sat in May and June. However, examinations for some of the most sought-after subjects (such as maths and English) can also be sat in October and November. Booking your exam as soon as possible and knowing when your exam date will be in advance will help you to set your own study schedule and better manage your workload.