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Welsh Government

Year 8 and 9 subject options

Are you thinking about what subjects to take at school? We can help you with this important decision.

Coming soon! A series of virtual open days will be running in March 2021 for years 9,11,12 and 13 to help them make decisions about their future.

The subjects you choose and grades you get may affect:

  • the sixth form or college you go to
  • what subject, course and qualifications you can do next or later in university
  • what apprenticeships you can apply for
  • what job you can do in the future

Let's see what you already know...

True or false? You need a science subject to be a Primary School Teacher?

TRUE. For primary teaching in Wales you will need science GCSE grade C or equivalent.

True or false? You don't need Biology to be a Physiotherapist?

FALSE. You do need Biology to be a Physiotherapist. Usually Biology or Human Biology is essential for most courses. A few courses may accept Physical Education instead of Biology.

Some key questions you might be asking yourself

How do I make a decision about which subjects to study?

The first thing to do is take your time. You're making a big decision so it's important not to rush it.

Take time to:

  • Get as much information as you can
  • Think things through
  • Listen to advice from teachers, parents and advisers
  • Think about how you learn best - are you more 'hands-on' and prefer to learn by doing or do you prefer listening, talking and writing?
  • Make a shortlist of subjects
  • Think about the pros and cons for each subject
  • Make your own decision - don't be influenced by others

Remember! Choose subjects because:

  • You are good at them
  • You enjoy them
  • It suits how you learn best
  • They are needed or useful for your career idea
  • They will help you develop skills like literacy, numeracy, problem solving and more

Top tips:

  •  Ask subject teachers and your tutor for more information, for example what you will study and how you will learn?
  • Check for more information on subjects you can choose from your school’s website or options booklet
  • If your school holds a Year 8 and 9 options evening, make sure you go and find out what you can from subject teachers
  • Use our Job Matching Quiz to explore different subjects and the jobs they can lead to
  • There may be pupils in year 10 or 11 already studying these subjects – ask them what the subject is like 
What subjects are compulsory?

Compulsory subjects means that you have to take them because they build up the skills you will need in the future, like literacy and numeracy.

You have to take:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Welsh 1st Language (Welsh medium schools)
  • Welsh 2nd Language (English medium schools)

Some schools have other compulsory subjects, for example Religious Education, Welsh Baccalaureate and ICT.

These subjects are usually studied as GCSE qualifications but they can also be studied at other levels such as Entry Level.

Did you know?

English and Maths

These are the subjects most needed for courses and by employers. Do as well as you can in English and Maths to improve your chances of getting a job or onto a course later.


Science will help you understand the world around you, especially as technology advances, and will give you skills like problem solving that you will need in whatever job you do.

Science is needed for many courses and jobs. Check which subjects may be needed for your career ideas in Job Information.

Welsh language

Welsh language skills can give you an advantage in the workplace in Wales, especially in jobs that work with young people, like teaching. Check which industries and jobs need Welsh language skills in Job Information. Find out why employers value Welsh language skills in the workplace.

What are optional subjects?

These are subjects you can choose yourself. Your choice of subjects will depend on your school, but you must be offered at least one choice from each of these groups of subjects:

  • Arts & Creative (like Art and Design, Music, Dance, Drama and Media Arts)
  • Design and Technology (like Design Technology,  ICT or Electronics)
  • Humanities (like Religious Education, History and Geography)
  • Modern Foreign Languages (like French, Spanish or German)

Keep a balance; keep your options open. It’s not essential that you choose a subject from every area, but having a good balance of subjects will keep your options open for your future.

Each school will offer a slightly different range of subjects and courses. Your school will give you a list of subjects and tell you what choices you can make. If this hasn’t happened yet, ask your tutor when you will be getting more information.

When you are given your options information, make sure that:

  • you understand what you need to do
  • you know what choices you can make
  • you are aware of the date when you need to decide by

Speak to your tutor or head of year if you are confused. You can also contact Careers Wales to speak to a careers adviser.

Watch the videos

My subject options

Find out about some of your subject options.

View transcript and captions document (PDF 63KB, this file will open in a new window)


How do I choose my subjects?

Find out what things you should think about when choosing your subjects.

View transcript and captions document (PDF 57KB, this file will open in a new widow)

Take a look at the options

How to choose the right subject or course

Get help with choosing subjects and courses. Find out the entry requirements, jobs of the future, career ideas, and your learning style.

Find out about qualifications

Understand qualification levels and why they matter. Learn about qualifications, including NVQs, GCSEs, BTECs, A levels, degrees and HNDs.

Options at 16

Access information about your career options after your GCSE's. 

Subject posters

Explore some of the jobs associated with different subjects

Explore more