All you need to know about taking a History GCSE!

4 mins
April 13, 2022
History isn't just about memorising a shed load of dates or knowing what the Magna Carta is; instead, it's about understanding significant events in a national and international context and how these events have shaped the world.

Ever heard the expression that history repeats itself? Well, it's true - examining, exploring and understanding past events helps us understand the present. They can help explain why society is the way it is, how industries and governments are formed and most importantly, can help us learn from our mistakes. 

How to revise for History GCSE?

The best way of revising for an exam (and this applies to any exam!) is to understand what the exam wants you to know and how to structure your responses to highlight this knowledge; this is why you get points for showing your workings in a maths GCSE. In the History GCSE, the assessment objectives are as follows: 

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key features and characteristics of the period studied.
  • Explain and analyse historical events and periods studied by looking at cause and effect. 
  • Analyse, evaluate and use sources (contemporary to the period) to make substantiated judgements in the context of historical events studied.
  • Analyse, evaluate and make substantiated judgements about interpretations (including how and why interpretations may differ) in the context of historical events studied.

Now that you know what the exam wants you to be able to showcase, apply these concepts to your topics. If you're on a source question think about who would view the source at the time and what type of reaction they'd have to it, then consider explaining the cause and effect. 

Our best advice? Don't leave it to your teachers to understand how the exams work. Get involved yourself and do your own research, that way, when you're revising, you're not in the dark when it comes to knowing what topics will come up or how much time to dedicate to learning them. Essentially work smarter, not harder! 

Can you retake History GCSE?

The first question you might want to ask yourself first is: do you want to pursue further education, and if so, what further education do you want to do? To shed light on the entry requirements to take A levels at sixth form or college, most providers accept students with five GCSEs at grades 4-9. 

So if you want to go on to do a History A Level, then it's helpful to have achieved a good grade in History GCSE, but if you would rather pursue other subjects at A Level or Degree Level, then you don't have to do a resit. The good news is, deciding whether to retake your History GCSE is entirely down to you!

Can you do A Level History without GCSE?

History GCSE is beneficial but not essential for studying History at A Level. It is more important that you have or can develop an analytical and precise writing style. You will also need to gather and retain a great deal of information and assess what is required for a particular question.

Is History a hard GCSE?

GCSE History has a pass rate of 64%, the content is quite complicated, and there's a whole range of skills you need to have mastered before entering your exam. 

You need to be able to write extended answers, analyse and discuss reasons and ideas behind major historical events. Combine this with an ability to remember many key dates and people, too - it's tough because of the sheer volume of information you need to know. Put simply; there's a lot to revise, which means there's a lot of information to get across in your exam. 

Having said all that, the best thing about History is that you're bound to find an area that you're truly passionate about. And if you’re curious about the periods you need to know about, then revising won’t be so bad! If you're passionate about women's rights, then you'll probably love learning about the suffrage movement; if you're interested in the advancements of medicine, then learning about the first antibiotic discovered by Alexander Flemming sounds right up your street. And finally, if you're a budding engineer that likes to know how things tick, then Karl Benz is a man you would love to go back in time to meet so you could take a ride in the world's first car.  

What jobs can a History GCSE get you?

While no single GCSE can guarantee you a job, achieving a high grade in your History GCSE can take you to many places. Having a high grade shows you've mastered skills like the ability to conduct further research, reach well-informed conclusions, and excellent written and verbal communication. 

It's great that you're already thinking about your career and making choices that get you excited and inspired. If you can't wait to get started with your History GCSE or have already completed it and are hungry for more, some of the jobs we've listed below could be perfect for you. 

  • Academic Librarian
  • Academic Researcher
  • Archaeologist
  • Archivist
  • Economist 
  • Heritage Manager
  • Historic Buildings Inspector/Conservation Officer
  • Journalist 
  • Museum Education Officer
  • Museum/Gallery Curator
  • Museum/Gallery Exhibitions Officer
  • Policy Officer
  • Solicitor/Lawyer
  • Teacher

What are your next steps?

Whilst we don't have a programme dedicated to the coolest periods of History (boo!) we do have loads of work experience programmes in subjects related to History like journalism, politics or law. If you're thinking about doing a History GCSE or have already completed one, we know you'll have a tremendous transferable skill set that will make sure you're a success in any of our history-related programmes. 

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