The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) curriculum is taught in F.4 and F.5. It allows students the flexibility 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 grade 9-4 in the new grading scale) and students are expected to gain a minimum of 5 passes at grade C or 4 to qualify for GCE A-levels examinations.
Starting from the academic year of 2015/16, the GCSE were reformed in phases. A selected set of reformed GCSE subjects and syllabuses replaced existing ones every year. Students who start Year 10 in September 2018 will all be using the new GCSE syllabuses.
A new grading scale of 9 to 1 is introduced with these reformed subjects, in which a grade 9 is set at a more challenging level than the original A* to reflect the abilities of more able students. In the new grading scale, there are two passing marks, where:
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.