There comes a time in our education journey where we are required to consider our GCSE options. We are told that the choices we make here will be the first step in starting down a path that will shape our future career.
You might be asking yourself "what GCSE grades do I need to be a lawyer?"
There are all sorts of careers to pursue, each of which requires different skills and personality types, as well as different educational paths to get there.
Some careers require more specific subjects to be studied at GCSE and better grades than others. Whatever career we think we might want to pursue, our GCSE options are an opportunity to take control of our journey for the first time, so it can feel a little daunting.
One type of career that many would like to have is that of a lawyer. We may be thinking of those high-intensity criminal trials we've seen on television, where the work of barristers who specialise in criminal law is most prominent.
But there are also other types of lawyer, known as solicitors, who can specialise in a wide range of legal areas like:
It's a diverse and challenging line of work, and it all starts with getting the right GCSE grades for law. As a general rule, we will want to try and do well in compulsory subjects like Maths and English, but be aware that law schools will consider more than just the GCSEs we have.
To give ourselves the strongest possible foundations, we should aim to get the highest grades we can in our GCSEs. Law school typically requires very good grades, so we will need to aim for A* (level 8-9) in the core subjects mentioned above, and as many other subjects as possible.
There is a reason why certain GCSEs are important for starting on the path to a career in law. Maths is important because the skills and knowledge we develop will demonstrate a particular aptitude for logic. Logic is incredibly important in all fields of the law, because we will need to understand, interpret and create legal text with absolute accuracy - there is no margin for error in this profession.
English is important as well, because we will need to be able to write to an extremely high standard, and doing well at GCSE English will demonstrate an aptitude for producing high-quality essays.
Another good subject to take is Physics - try our free GCSE physics challenge to get a taste of what's involved! There are some other subjects that we could take at GCSE which may boost our chances of being considered over other candidates. These subjects include:
Lawyers, and thus law students, should be well-rounded people to enable them to take on a range of different legal cases. The specific skills and knowledge we require will vary depending on the field of law we end up practising, so it will be useful to do some research early on and learn what might appeal to us.
For example, if we wish to practice environmental law, it may be helpful to study some environmental science-related areas to boost our knowledge of the topic. Similarly, if we intend to get into corporate law, it could be helpful to take on some business studies and develop our knowledge this way.
The GCSEs required will vary from one student to the next. There will also be variation in the requirements of different law schools. As we're at the beginning stage of planning our education, we need to find out as much as possible about the profession so that we can make the right decisions.
Perhaps our parents can help us talk to different law schools to get an idea of their recommendations. It may also help to speak to different types of lawyers to ask how they started out in their journey.
One of the most important things to do at this early stage is to get an idea of what type of lawyer we want to be. As we noted above, when we understand the field of law we wish to practice, we can select GCSE subjects that relate to it. Do the research, perhaps with the help of teachers, careers advisers and parents, to learn about different types of law and what they involve.
We will discover the field that we would most like to work in, and then we can start making decisions about the best GCSE choices and the grades we will need to achieve.
The answer to the question "What grades do you need to be a lawyer at GCSE?" is not simple.
Most law schools in the UK are not as strict as we might think with their requirements. A minimum of a C in English and Maths at GCSE is a common requirement, as well as 3 A levels with a minimum of BBC. The subjects for the other GCSEs and A levels are not usually specified, though certain subjects like General Studies may be considered less valuable.
Though the requirements for studying law are not laid out in a massively stringent fashion by schools, don't be fooled. Law is a highly specialised field, and it will take lots of hard work and study to succeed.
There is a lot of competition, so if we get into law school with the bare minimum requirements, we are likely to put ourselves in a weaker position than students who performed better.
A career in law requires some good planning at the point of choosing our GCSE options.
We need to understand what type of law we wish to practice. We need to target a few law schools, and learn what their entry requirements are. And we need to think about what skills will be valuable for that field of law, and choose subjects that will strengthen our knowledge and skill base.
Finally, we should aim to get the best grades we possibly can in all our subjects to put ourselves in a strong position to succeed in a highly competitive world. Shoot for those A* grades, or level 8-9!
Law is an exciting and often varied line of work, and as we are at the point of choosing our GCSEs, we should be planning for the future and making our choices accordingly.
Check out some options below - ready for you when you need them: