The General Certificate of Education, known as a GCE, is a scholastic qualification awarded to students by the examination boards of UK and other commonwealth countries such as Sri Lanka. Generally, the GCE encompasses two different levels. There is an ordinary level (known as the O level) and the advanced level (known as the A level). As of late, the examination boards have brought about a third level that is called the Advanced Subsidiary Level or the AS Level. This replaces the former Advanced Supplementary level. The GCE is said to have originated in England, Wales, and also in Northern Ireland in 1951.
It was intended to replace the former older School Certificate (SC) and Higher School Certificate (HSC). This change was implemented to accommodate the increasing number of subjects offered to students because the school leaving age was increased from 14 to 15 in 1947. Grading for 16-year olds was in the ordinary level. The grading for the 18-year olds was in the advanced level.
Students in the age group of 13–14 that are in the secondary schools take the GCSE course. It covers multiple subjects that students generally select by themselves. The learning process of the chosen subjects starts at the age of 14–15 and the final exams are taken at the age of 15–16. The subject topics a student can learn varies in the GSCE level. Usually the subjects studied range from approximately eight to ten at a time. Though GCSEs are not at all mandatory they are usually the qualification courses that are taken by 14 to 16-year-olds.
In state schools the bare minimum requirement is Mathematics, Science, English, Religious Education, and Physical Education. They need to be studied through Key Stage 4 in the GCSE period at school. Students are awarded a grade for all subjects they partcipate in after the two–year GCSE course. The order of the grades from highest to the lowest are as follows: A* , A through G. Grades A* to C are the most preferred grades by most companies when it comes to hiring decisions.