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The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a set of exams taken in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and other British territories. They are usually taken by students aged 16, after two years of study. Some pupils can take their exams early if their teachers think them able. Most students taking their GCSEs study nine or ten subjects.
All pupils have to study English, mathematics and science until they are 16. They do not have to take the GCSE exams, but the large majority do so. In Wales, students must also study Welsh until they are 16.
Most schools require that a pupil passes 5 or more GCSE exams at grades C or above before they can move on to study A-levels.