Fourth and Fifth Formers work towards GCSEs and IGCSEs. GCSEs are the courses offered by all exam boards while IGCSEs (International GCSEs) are offered in a smaller number of subjects by some exam boards and are widely taught by leading independent schools. Academically more rigorous than their GCSE counterparts, these examinations require pupils to study, understand and think more deeply. The IGCSE is not, however, recognised by the Government’s Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and is therefore automatically excluded from School League Tables. Cheltenham College's examination results may, however, be viewed here.
Each department chooses the best course in their subject: IGCSE in Maths, Science, English Literature, Geography, History and Modern Languages, and GCSE in all others. All exams are taken at the end of Fifth Form except Maths for Set 1, and a small number of language GCSEs for native speakers.
For pupils, grades matter more than the number of subjects, with the vast majority of College pupils sitting papers at Higher Tier.
Most pupils take ten GCSEs. The core curriculum comprises:
- English (GCSE in English Language and IGCSE in English Literature)
- At least two sciences, chosen from Biology, Chemistry and Physics. (The 3rd science can be chosen as one of the 'options' below.)
- A modern foreign language or English as an Additional Language.
The options and modern language subjects consist of:
- Ancient Greek
- Classical Civilisation
- Computer Science
- Design and Technology (either Resistant Materials or Textiles)
- Sports Science
- Theology, Philosophy & Ethics
- Third Science (Biology, Chemistry or Physics)
Alongside this academic curriculum, there is of course, a full programme of PSHCE, sports, music and extra/co-activities.