Last year I completed my IGCSE program at ISB with flying colours. Despite the circumstances of the examination itself being different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IGCSE option selection process was identical to what the year 9’s are currently experiencing. I vividly remember how daunting this big decision seemed, as it was the first time I had to make a choice that had a real impact on my future. Now, having gone through the whole experience, I look back on it fondly, as it was a period of growth and self-discovery. In order to help current year 9’s with this seemingly difficult decision, I have compiled my top tips for a successful and enjoyable IGCSE option list.
1. Start thinking in time
There is nothing worse than having the perfect IGCSE option list, that is most enjoyable to you and provides you with the widest variety of options for your future, just to find out that the spots in a class that you are looking forward to are taken. I have multiple friends that had to change their options just because certain popular classes were already at their full capacity. That is why I encourage you to act quickly when you receive your option forms. This consists of speaking to your parents, consulting your school career counselor and actually filling out the form as quickly as possible!
2. Do your research
Before choosing your subjects, it is always a great idea to research future career prospects and what areas of knowledge they require studies in. The career options quiz provided by the school is an extremely useful tool for this, as they provide you with your top career matches, as well as what subjects you need to take for each career. Doing extra research on top of that, such as speaking to teachers and your career counselor, is also a great step. Moreover, if you already have a dream university that you are striving to attend, you may want to research what options they require, especially if the school is in the UK. However, by no means do you need to have any ideas regarding university yet, so don’t worry if you don’t.
3. Know your strength and weaknesses
If after your initial research you are still unsure about what options to choose, looking back on your past academic performance in different subjects and asking your teachers for feedback regarding if they believe you would be a good fit for their subject could be another great step. Then, once you become better aware of your academic strengths and weaknesses, you can create an option list that will help you achieve the highest grades in your final exams. You can even create a list with subjects that you enjoy on one side, and subjects that you are good at on one side, and see how they overlap and intertwine, in order to get a better idea of how to form a balanced and enjoyable list.
4. Don’t neglect your interests
As the IGCSE allows you to study 8 different subjects, I believe that it is the perfect opportunity to explore different passions and areas of interest that you might have. For instance, don’t be afraid to diversify a mostly science-based options list by choosing music, or a mostly-humanities based options list by choosing art, if you are passionate about those subjects. Evidently, you need to choose subjects that will be useful in your future career, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy a variety of distinct subjects. This will allow you to perhaps take a break from the stress that other subjects may cause, and give you the time and space to relax and enjoy yourself. Moreover, a varied options list will signal to universities and future employers that you are a diverse, capable and well-balanced student.
5. Don’t overthink it!
Trust me, I know how stressful talk about formal exams, universities and future careers can be, especially at such a young age. I am aware that all of the research and time needed to deliberate on this decision can be overwhelming, however, I personally believe that at the end of the day you will make the right decision. You know yourself best, so think realistically and be honest with yourself about what subjects you actually want to do and will dedicate yourself to. If you don’t enjoy your options you most probably won’t put time and effort into them, therefore you won’t achieve the best marks. Play on your strengths, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, if you feel like you can handle it, as it will lead to extraordinary self growth. Most importantly, enjoy this first step into your future and this period of personal growth and development. You will make great memories during the next two years and will learn incredible things!