Considering GCSE ICT? The Profs look briefly at the syllabus and the options for onward study.

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Why study GCSE ICT?

ICT stands for “Information and Communications Technology”. Although these courses are mostly computer-based, ICT embraces more than computers. It includes all the technology that enables communications and information processing in the modern world, such as networking, telephony, broadcasting, data storage and wireless communications.

At GCSE level, your studies will introduce you to computer software and programming, but also to the social issues arising from the many ways in which computers are used in the modern world.

Computer skills are useful in the majority of jobs and are needed for almost every higher education or university course. Today, computers play a role in almost every subject, including the sciences, the arts, business and entertainment. GCSE ICT deepens your understanding of the digitally-empowered world on the one hand, and encourages creativity and problem solving on the other.

Computers are becoming so fundamental to modern life that it is valuable for everyone to deepen their understanding of them and acquire the skills to use them. However, this course will be especially useful to anyone interested in developing programming skills or attracted by a career in communications engineering.

What is studied in GCSE ICT?

Most GCSE ICT courses combine practical and theoretical studies. The core areas of study are usually as follows:

  • The basic components in computer systems and networks
  • Knowledge of new and emerging digital technologies
  • Social implications of digital technology and information collection, including how ICT helps in the home, at school and in work
  • The dangers of ICT, risk minimisation and responsible practices
  • Creating documents, graphs, charts and presentations (using word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and presentation software)
  • Practical skills in analysing problems, implementing ICT solutions and testing them
  • Data analysis and manipulation
  • File management
  • Web page design and styling
  • Writing software
  • System lifecycles

What skills do I need to take GCSE ICT?

The GCSE ICT courses assume no prior knowledge of computers and communications, but of course, it helps if you have already used computers and smartphones.

Understanding the social impacts, risks and opportunities of digital technology is an important element in the course and can command as much as 40% of the marks (depending on the examining board). Therefore, although the course focuses on technology, it may also appeal to students with an interest in society or the social sciences. Nevertheless, you will need to sit at a computer screen for much of the course.

From a practical perspective, the course will probably appeal to students who already have computer skills, but it is even more valuable for those who do not. Computer skills can help with every other subject you study, and familiarity with them can help you in many areas of life.

Where does a GCSE ICT course lead?

The main point of a GCSE in ICT is that it proves your computer competence and ability to relate it to problem-solving. These qualities are helpful in every other course you choose to take or in virtually any job for which you may later apply.

If you find ICT interesting and achieve a strong grade, it can lead to a broad range of highly paid jobs in computer science, digital engineering, programming and network management. Some of these careers also require A Levels followed by a Computer Science degree, but you can also find work in the telecommunications sector without them. Two booming digital applications at the moment are the roll-out of smart meters and IP telephones.

One thing is certain about ICT; it will continue to develop and change the society we live in.

If you decide to pursue a Computer Science degree at university, you will not necessarily need an A Level qualification in ICT. Good A Level results in Mathematics are considered more important. You can also take a route into software or network engineering via an HND.

Computer literacy is an essential skill in the modern world. If you need some extra help with your GCSE ICT, The Profs are here to help.

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