GCSE IT (now ICT, an acronym which I neither like nor use, since it implies that you communicate electronically in the course-which you don't, unless you sneak ICQ onto a computer) is the lowest qualification one can get in the British education system for computing.

The course is roughly 40% theory exam, and 60% coursework.

The theory exam is rather simple: you must sketch spreadsheets, suggest IT solutions for certain types of company and such. A lot of it is common sense, really, and anybody who frequents Toms Hardware or Slashdot will have half the answers right off the bat.

The coursework is the hard part. You must produce a long project on a certain IT problem. You must invent a new company (or use an existing one) and "solve" one of their problems with an IT solution. Examples include planning stadiums with a spreadsheet, or administering a sales department with a database.

The thing is, the examiners want you to jump through certain metaphorical hoops, and one hoop is one mark. You must jump through the hoops in exactly the right order, in exactly the right way. I'll tell you now that:

a) The hoops are on fire, and one slipup will send you crashing down and losing marks, and possibly losing half your scalp with them.
b) It is nigh on impossible to do the hoops.

The strange thing is, my school insists on doing the database/spreadsheet first, and then doing the planning-meaning you write in the future tense all throughout the project. Also, you aren't allowed to say the name of the product you'll use to make your database/spreadsheet. Anyway, the only database really suited to GCSE is Access, as it's the only one with a graphical frontend-thus making the whole product thing painfully bad. And you have to take screenshots anyway, making it obvious which product you're using!

A few tips. Jump through the hoops, avoid the fire, which will burn you (trust me, it will) and work like no tomorrow. Otherwise prepare for failure. I missed the hoops, plunged headfirst into the fire and slacked off. Now look where I am...

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