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  • The General Certificate of Secondary Education is an academic qualification awarded in a specified subject, generally taken in a number of subjects by students aged 14-16 in secondary education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was introduced in 1986 replacing the former O Level / CSE qualifications. As well as amalgamating the two former examination systems, one of the main changes was to allow students to complete Course Work during their two years of study, which was marked by their teachers and contributed to their final examination grade. The qualification is equivalent to a Level 1 or Level 2 Key Skills Qualification. Some students may decide to take one or more GCSEs before or after they sit the others, and people may apply for GCSEs at any point either internally through an institution or externally. The educational systems of other British territories, such as Gibraltar, Nigeria and South Africa, also offer the qualification, as supplied by the same examination boards.