• Question: Did your GCSE subjects influence your interests in university?

    Asked by anon-316859 on 9 Mar 2022.
    • Photo: Sahil Din

      Sahil Din answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Hi There,
      Thank you for asking Fear451tet.

      Certainly, I think once you start going to secondary school you start reduce the number of subjects you study, since you were in primary school. It narrows even further in A-level to 3-4 subjects and then down even further to 1 subject in university.

      So choosing your options at secondary school is quite important, so choose something that you enjoy and once you understand it more, it will then help you to narrow the choices down.

      For me personally, I didn’t really know what i wanted to do at university whilst in my GCSE’s so I chose all the subjects I enjoyed along with the other boring ones i had to choose (i.e Spanish :D)
      and than in time i found what i wanted in A-levels.

    • Photo: Jamie Smith

      Jamie Smith answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Hi! Thanks for your question.

      I’ve always been interested in the sciences, and doing the Science GCSEs lead to my science A Levels and then my University choices. So I would say yes, GCSEs absolutely influenced my interests at Uni.

      University isn’t just studying either. I did a Drama GCSE and that captured a completely different love of performing. This influenced my time at University as I became involved with the Musical Theatre society.

      I think it’s important at GCSEs to pick what you enjoy, because even if you don’t study the subject at a University level, you may want to keep it up in your spare time!

    • Photo: Victoria Fawcett

      Victoria Fawcett answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Doing GCSE Maths definitely made me realise how much I loved Maths, and that I was definitely going to take Maths and Further Maths for A level.
      However, I didn’t really enjoy Physics at GCSE and it was only at A level that I started to like the subject. So I decided to do both Maths and Physics at University.
      Once I was at University I realised it was actually the Physics part of my degree that I preferred!

    • Photo: Alex Headspith

      Alex Headspith answered on 9 Mar 2022:


      I can’t give you the perspective of this on having been to Uni since I don’t start my degree until later on this year, but from my perspective they where influenced by my decision of wanting to be an engineer.

      I picked my GCSEs as I thought the ones I selected would stand me in good stead for an engineering pathway – but I also picked ones I enjoyed, such as Music. Your GCSE selection won’t define your career pathway – but if you have an idea in mind it might be worth selecting a couple to help you on your way.

      At the end of the day, its most important that you enjoy it, because if you don’t it isn’t worth your time and you’d end up wanting to do something different anyway

    • Photo: Hannah Griffin

      Hannah Griffin answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Cool question. I suppose my answer is “sort of”!

      I remember choosing my options for GCSE and being told it was absolutely critical in terms of what I could do in the future (spoiler alert – it wasn’t!). When I was at school we had to study IT at GCSE and the “options” I chose were art and music.

      I suppose the biggest influence on what I chose to do at university was actually a science teacher who told me that I couldn’t do a piece of biology coursework by hand on paper but I had to use a computer as computers were the future! I therefore decided to study IT at A level and this definitely influenced my interest at university.

    • Photo: Alistair McShee

      Alistair McShee answered on 9 Mar 2022: last edited 9 Mar 2022 3:00 pm

      In a way they did! I took physics at A-level because it was my favourite of the sciences, and then at degree level because it was my favourite of the subjects I was studying, but when I was in the middle of my physics degree, I did end up branching out into a geology module which bought back memories of my GCSE geography, and several lab-report-heavy modules which I felt I was better at thanks to my GCSE and A-level in history.

      I also like applying physics to other subjects, such as music; all musical instruments use a physics phenomena to work!

      Looking back it was not so much that I was always directly interested in physics, but just in the “how does this thing work” mentality that most physicists share!

    • Photo: Samuel Hall

      Samuel Hall answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Hi there fear451test,

      In short, yes. I really enjoyed maths and physics at GCSE which is what prompted me towards science/engineering at university. However, I also chose my GCSE’s based on what I was enjoying at the time. One of my favorite subjects was geography, which I didn’t study at university, but a love of the outdoors is what drives what I do in my spare time!

    • Photo: Daisy Shearer

      Daisy Shearer answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      Ooh good question! It was during GCSE chemistry and physics classes that I decided that I wanted to study physics at university. Mostly this was sparked by learning about electron shells in atoms and this concept of โ€˜spinโ€™ was mentioned offhandedly in chemistry. I wanted to know more and asked my chemistry teacher who told me to ask a physics teacher, so I did! That got me interested in quantum physics which I read about in my spare time and I also realised that physics underpins chemistry and decided that physics was what I wanted to study the most. I now study electron spin for my PhD research so that class really impacted my interests โš›๏ธ

    • Photo: Luke Humphrey

      Luke Humphrey answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      Yes. I liked GCSE because you can choose 10 whole subjects. I’m a big fan of having a diverse education. You can pick up lots of things from different subjects that help at university.

      For example:
      * Graphic design taught me colour theory and other visual techniques that I still use to design presentation slides, posters, and simulation visualisations. This helped me communicate information better at university and work.
      * Drama taught me to project my voice and be comfortable in front of crowds even when doing something silly or embarrassing. This helps me do presentations and outreach work.
      * History taught me to investigate the historical context, and identify the biases of authors. Any scientific project begins with a study of the subject’s history. This is really useful at university when writing your final project!
      * Maths taught me the only true way to represent the world. Language only hints at the truth that maths can express perfectly. I’m a bit dyslexic when it comes to numbers, but the computers do all the calculations these days – it’s just important to understand the core maths concepts around those calculations. Real maths uses letters – so to speak! ๐Ÿ˜€
      * Physics taught me to think like a scientist. To break down a question into the major physical phenomena that dominate that question, and simplify and simplify until the picture is clear enough to solve. This is constantly useful in university, at work, and in everyday life.