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How Long Do GCSE Exams Last? Let’s Find Out!

When Do GCSEs Start and Finish?

GCSEs are an essential part of secondary school life.

The exam timetable is usually around the end of Year 11 and is usually sat around the start of June.

The exams are split into two parts; the first half is known as the ‘General Certificate of Secondary Education (or GCSE). The second half is called the ‘Qualifying Examination’ (or QCE).

The exam lasts three hours and consists of four papers.

Each paper has a different number of questions. The first paper has 40 questions, the second has 60 questions, the third has 80 questions and the fourth has 100 questions.

The exam is graded out of 10 and each question is worth either 5, 4, 3 or 2 marks. If you get a score of 9 or above, you receive a grade A* to E. If you get a 6 or below, you receive a grade F to E.

There are also some subjects that have their own qualifications which can be added to your main qualification.

These include: Art & Design, Business Studies, Drama, English Language, Food Technology, Geography, History, ICT, Media Studies, Music, Physical Education, Religious Education, Science, Textiles and Woodwork.

The main UK exam boards are:

• Cambridge Assessment International Examinations

• Edexcel

• Pearson VUE





• City & Guilds


• GCE Advanced Level

• IB Diploma Programme

• Trinity College London

• the University of Oxford

• the University of Cambridge

• Open Universities Courses

• Further Maths/Further Physics/Further Chemistry/Further Biology

If you want more information about what these qualifications entail, then visit the exam board websites or

When Do Students Start Learning GCSE Content in Secondary School?

Students begin learning content for GCSEs from September onwards.

This means they will study all year round until they sit their final exams.

However, there may be times when students need extra help with specific topics.

For example, if they struggle with maths concepts, they might take additional lessons on this topic during term time. Or if they find it difficult to understand certain texts, they could ask teachers for support.

Furthermore, students who live outside London should note that schools in other areas offer different courses than those offered by schools in central London.

For instance, many schools in Essex teach French instead of Spanish.

Therefore, before starting any course, make sure you know where you would like to go!

In short, don’t worry too much – just enjoy yourself while studying and remember that no matter how hard things seem now, you’ll soon feel confident enough to tackle anything else!

How Long Does It Take To Pass Your GCSE Exams?

Exam durations depend on whether you’re sitting them alone or alongside others. You can expect to spend between one hour and five hours per subject taking your exams.

So, depending on the length of the exam, you could finish anywhere between six weeks and eight months later.

In addition, you must factor in breaks throughout the day. Some people prefer to eat lunch early so they can concentrate better after eating.

Others choose not to eat breakfast because they think they won’t perform well without food in their stomach. Whatever works best for you, try to stick to a routine.

What Are The Best Subjects For Passing GCSEs?

As mentioned earlier, there are four separate papers within each exam.

In order to pass an exam, you must achieve at least two grade B across all four papers.

So, here’s a breakdown of the most popular choices:

  • English Literature – There are around 1,000 questions in total. Most of these relate to literature such as poems, plays and novels.
  • Maths – Around 500 questions cover everything from basic arithmetic through to algebraic equations.
  • Science – Another 400 questions focus on biology, chemistry and physics.
  • History – A further 300 questions test knowledge of history, including Ancient Rome, World War II and British politics.

However, keep in mind that every school is unique. There are schools that will give notice of exam topics. If you’ve got friends going into similar subjects, talk to them about what they did. They might give you tips on how to prepare for your exams.

GCSE Exam Tips And Advice From Experts

Here are some useful hints and advice from experts:

1) Don’t panic! Remember that passing isn’t always easy. But once you get used to the pressure, you’ll start enjoying the challenge.

2) Make sure you have plenty of revision materials available. These include books, notes, flashcards and practice tests.

3) Try to avoid cramming. Instead, use the days leading up to the exam to relax and clear your head. Then, set aside a few quiet moments to review key points. This will help you keep information more easily.

4) Keep track of your progress using online resources. 

5) Be realistic when setting targets. Set goals based on your strengths rather than focusing solely on weaknesses.

6) Finally, be patient. Even though you may want to rush through your studies, rushing doesn’t mean success.

How Many Hours of GCSE Exams Do Students Have?

The time spent preparing varies greatly.

However, it usually takes students approximately three hours to complete their examination paper.

After this, they should aim to take another half hour before moving onto the next examination paper.

This means that if you sit your exams over several sessions, you could end up spending somewhere between seven and nine hours completing your entire coursework.

Usual exam period

If you’re sitting your exams during term time, then expect to spend anywhere between five and six weeks studying. During summer holidays, however, you’ll only need to study for one week or less.

Moreover, remember that you don’t have to finish your coursework by the deadline. You can extend your timetable until just before the exam date.

Hence, even if you miss out on a couple of assignments, you won’t lose too much ground.

When Should I Start Studying For GCSEs?

There aren’t any hard and fast rule regarding when you should begin studying. It depends entirely upon where you live and whether you plan to continue with your education beyond GCSE level.

For example, if you’re planning to go straight to university, then you probably shouldn’t wait too long.

On the other hand, if you intend to apply for college courses after leaving secondary school, then you’d better make sure you start early.

In either case, try not to procrastinate. The longer you leave it, the harder it becomes. So, instead of waiting until the very last minute, why not start now?

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A Wife, a mum and a Tutor! I am the Lead Editor at TheTutor.Link & also the Head Tutor there. I love teaching seeing young minds flourish. I also love blogging and sharing my experience on the world wide web.