Revealed: the most popular GCSE for early entry and resits

15 January 2016

Core Science was the most popular GCSE for both early entry and resits in 2014, according to research published today by Cambridge Assessment.

The first report, Age distribution of GCSE candidates in England in 2014, by researcher Nadir Zanini shows how GCSE Core Science was by far the most common subject for 15-year-olds in June 2014, taken by more than 185,500. That was more than four times the entries for the next most popular subject, English Literature.

The second report, Re-sitting patterns at GCSE across subjects in 2013 and 2014 – also by Nadir Zanini - is the first ever Statistics Report about resits. It found that in 2014 Core Science became the most likely subject to be re-entered by GCSE candidates, with just over 52 per cent compared to just over 33 per cent for Mathematics, which was the most popular subject in 2013.

Stephen Diston, Science Specialist at UK exam board OCR, says the figures reflect the fact that in recent years it has been popular to take Core Science early, so enabling students to focus on Additional Science when they are in Year 11, or to potentially resit the subject if they didn’t get the result they were hoping for.

However, he says these figures are set to change as Core Science and Additional Science are replaced either by Combined Science or individual GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics from September 2016. Resitting patterns for the subject are likely to have changed by the time of the next report too, because of the government rule introduced in September 2013 that a candidate’s first entry is the one that counts in performance measures, as well as the fact that in future resits will only be available in GCSE English and Maths.

The data for the first report came from the National Candidate Results Archive and focused on the age of candidates who took their GCSE in a school located in England. The data for the second report came from the National Pupil Database which is compiled for the Department for Education and contains detailed information about pupils in schools and colleges in England.

Cambridge Assessment’s Statistics Reports Series is part of the Group’s commitment to transparency and access to examinations data and the information it provides about the examination system can be used by all.

Related materials

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.

Research Matters 32 promo image

Media contacts

Contact our press and Public Affairs office

Tel:  +44 (0)1223 556018