The subjects you choose to study for GCSE, or Standard Grade in Scotland, are important as it is often difficult to 'pick up' a subject you have dropped, at a later stage.
Choices in England and Wales
In England and Wales most students are encouraged to study at least two science GCSEs. Most schools and colleges will not allow you to study any science subject at A-level (even Sports Studies or Psychology) if you haven't got two GCSEs in Science. Increasingly schools also offer 'triple science' as an option for some students. If you take this course you will take GCSE exams in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.This is thought to be the best preparation for A-levels in these science subjects, however large numbers of students go on to do very well in science A-levels having taken science and additional science GCSEs.
Sometimes the first GCSE, 'core science' is taken at the end of Year 10 and most students will go on to study 'Additional Science' or 'Additional Applied Science' in Year 11. You will need to talk to your teachers and, ideally, a career adviser, to make sure that you know what the differences are between these two courses and which would be the best one for you to take. In general, someone who thinks they might want to study Biology, Chemistry or Physics A-level would be advised to take the 'Additional Science' course.
If you want to study Applied Science A-level then the 'Additional Applied' course would probably be the right one for you. This is also likely to be good preparation for Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering.
Some schools also offer Diplomas, BTEC Applied Science courses or iGCSE. It is important to check out that whichever course you take will allow you to go on to study what you want to do post-16. If you think you might want to go on to university, also check out what their requirements are.
Take a look at the Ways in – England and Wales chart to see all the different routes in to a career in the pharmaceutical industry.
Choices in Scotland
In Scotland the choice is just between Biology, Chemistry and Physics Standard Grade. If you think you might want to study science beyond age 16, you should try to continue to study all three science subjects.