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Your choices in Year 9

The subjects and qualifications you study over Years 10 and 11 will affect how you spend your time during your next two years at school. It could also help set you up for the career or college course you want later on.

Which way now?

Choosing subjects and qualifications to study in Years 10 and 11 can seem daunting. Don’t panic! There’s lots of information and advice to help you choose what’s right for you.

The ‘Which way now?’ website is a good place to start. There’s also a ‘Which way now?’ magazine - you can download it from the site.

What sort of person are you?

To help you decide what to study in Years 10 and 11, start by asking yourself what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at.

Think about:

  • what you’re interested in: it could be other cultures and languages, writing projects, helping people, being outdoors or designing things
  • what types of activity you enjoy most - working things out and thinking them through, practical activities or artistic options like painting, drawing or performing music
  • what you're like at home, as well as in school - what skills have you developed following outside interests?

Choosing what to study

There are some subjects so important that everyone has to take them, but you’ll still have lots of options in Year 9.

Remember that Years 10 and 11 aren’t just about GCSEs. Courses are taught in different ways, and it may be that one type suits you more than others.

Depending on what’s available at your school, you may also be able to do work-related courses like Young Apprenticeships, or courses in Key Skills like English and maths.

From September 2008, selected schools will also be offering new Diploma qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds.

How will you be assessed?

Chances are you'll have to do at least one exam for most of your subjects, but many also let you count coursework towards your final grade. Some subjects aren't all about written work, and give you the chance to do practical assessments as well. Would that suit you?

Where can you get help and advice?

The choices are yours, but most people look for advice on important decisions. There’s plenty available, but you should do as much as you can yourself to research all the options.

Parents, carers, family and friends probably know you best, so talking to them can help you work out what might suit you. But remember that they won’t always know a lot about careers or courses you’re interested in.

If you’re planning to work towards a particular career or college course, don’t be put off just because it means taking a different direction from friends or family members.

People at school

Lots of people at school can help:

  • subject teachers know exactly what studying a subject in Year 10 and 11 involves, and can advise whether it’s right for you 
  • careers co-ordinators can tell you which subjects and qualifications are useful for particular careers 
  • the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) can arrange support if you have a disability or learning difficulty which affects your studies 
  • a volunteer or learning mentor can help with any problems getting in the way of your learning – ask if there’s one at your school


Connexions offers information and advice for young people on a range of issues, including careers:

  • your school’s Connexions Resource Centre provides printed guides, DVDs, computer programs and internet access to help you research courses, careers, training and qualifications 
  • Connexions personal advisers give confidential advice on a range of issues – you should have been introduced to yours in school during Year 8 or 9, or you can talk to one at your local Connexions Partnership 
  • Connexions Direct advisers - contact them by phone, email, webchat or text message for free, confidential advice 
  • Connexions Direct helpline: 080 800 13 2 19

Thinking about higher education? Get the Aimhigher guide

If you’re thinking about going to university or college when you’re 18, there’s lots of information in ‘Don’t stop doing what you love’ - the Aimhigher guide for young people in Year 9.

You can download a copy below, or order one:

  • by freephone on 0800 587 8500
  • by textphone on 0800 280024

Quote reference ‘PRE1608’. Copies are available in Braille, large print or audio cassette.

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