What is GCSE?
GCSE stands for the General Certificate of Education and is the British
equivalent of of a US High School Diploma.
Along with IGCSE, and the Scottish 'Standard Grades' it is the largest examination and assessment program in the world operating in over 100 countries and influencing the education system of many others.
The GCSE test and examination program is operated though a number of examination boards of which Cambridge (UCLES), EDEXCEL and the SQA are the largest.
Although the purpose of the system was originally similar to that of SAT the program has developed in a very different way. Whereas SAT tests for general 'scholastic aptitude' the GCSE program is designed to test for specific skills, ability and knowledge. It is NOT a standardized test and is available in 100's if not 1000's of subject area.
Most US colleges accept GCSE's in 7 subjects at 'C' grade or above as equivalent to passing the SAT, for which exemption is often given.
When using the term 'GCSE' we are generally referring to what is specifically know as the 'Ordinary' or 'Standard' GCSE examinations, however, in the UK program there are 'Advanced' or 'A Level' GCSE's equivalent to US Advanced Placement and the 'Higher National' Associate Degree program, all operating using the same system.