The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) qualification is equivalent to the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) qualification – both of which are completed in F.4 and F.5 – while GCSE poses less restriction on subject choices which allows students to do arts subjects alongside with science subjects. Students who take the standard 2-year GCSE programmes normally study seven to ten subjects. Passing grades are A* to C (or the equivalent in the new grading scale) and students are expected to gain a minimum of 5Cs to qualify for the GCE A-levels examinations.
Starting from the academic year of 2015/16, the GCSE will be reformed in phases. A selected set of reformed GCSE subjects and syllabuses will replace existing ones every year. A new grading scale of 9 to 1 will be introduced with these reformed subjects, in which a grade 9 will be set at a more challenging level than the original A* to reflect the abilities of more able students.
Typical Electives (*Popular Choices of HK Students)
|Students eligible for Sixth Form (5A*-C)|
|% of Grades at A or above||% of Grades at C or above|
|Source: DfE (UK) – 2015|
1-Year and other flexi-programmes
In addition to the standard 2-year programmes, a number of international study centres of boarding schools and independent colleges also run flexi-programmes which last for 3 terms (1 Year), 4 terms and 5 terms respectively. With the additional start dates in January and April, these are excellent options for current F.4 students. Students study fewer subjects in these shorter programmes. Typically, five to seven subjects are expected for a 1-year GCSE programme.