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Andrew Arkley|May 31, 2022

CV Education Section: How To Include Your Degree, A-Levels & GCSEs

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In this blog, we look at the CV education section and discuss how to include your degree, A-levels and GCSEs.

Unsurprisingly, as CV writing specialists, we’re often asked about how and where to include your education in your CV.

Don’t worry, when it comes to the CV education section we’ve got you covered – in this blog, we’ll outline the best practices for including your education and qualifications in your CV.

What comes first in a CV, education or professional experience?

Before we look at how to include your degree, A-levels and GCSEs on your CV, let’s take a step back and look at the layout as a whole.

Some CV writers are firm about the order in which different CV elements ought to be included, whatever the candidate’s circumstances.

While we always look to adhere to best practices when it comes to formatting, in our (extensive) experience, there isn’t a hard and fast rule when it comes to ordering your education and employment history on your CV.

It all comes down to the stage you’re at in your career.

If you’re a recent school or university leaver, or perhaps are still studying, education is going to come first.

This is down to the fact it’s unlikely you’ll have a bank of significant work experience at this stage, meaning employers will be more focused upon your studies.

The further you progress in your career, the less weight you’ll give to the education section, and – depending on the type of CV you’re writing – it may well move further down the document.

While it may be necessary to show you’re a degree holder, or appropriate to show you have achieved specific qualifications (for example, some jobs require GCSE Maths and English to a certain level), employers tend to be far more interested in your work experience.

As your career progresses, you’ll likely be trimming down the CV education section until it’s no more than necessary details.

An exception to this are career changer CVs. For example, if you have changed careers to become a teacher, you would likely place your new teaching qualifications at the top of the CV.

Equally, if certain educational qualifications are particularly relevant to your new role, you’ll want to make sure these are included.

How should I order my CV education section?

Educational qualifications should be listed in reverse chronological order, i.e. with the most recent and generally highest level qualification first.

Let’s look at how to list some of the most frequently seen educational qualifications.

How to write your degree on your CV

When detailing a university degree, include the name of the university, the course name, and the dates of your studies.

Don’t include the grade unless it is a 2.1 or higher.

Recent graduates may want to include the names of specific modules if they don’t have a lot of other work experience or if there’s something particularly pertinent to the role. 

For those without significant work experience or a lot of professional skills to include, a general sentence summing up the key skills gained through your degree may be appropriate..

How to write A-Levels and GCSEs on your CV

When it comes to your A-levels and GCSEs, you should include the name of your school and the dates attended.

We don’t advise including each individual GCSE subject – that’s going to take up a lot of space. An overview is fine, e.g. “10 GCSEs at grades A – C”.

Since most people take fewer A-levels, for new professionals it isn’t uncommon to list out the specific subjects. However, only include grades if they are A or above.

What about other educational qualifications?

You may have vocational qualifications to highlight on your CV that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Much of the same rules as above apply here.

Ensure you include the where, what and when of your qualification – and detail them in reverse chronological order.

You may have obtained certificates through workplace training, such as first aid courses or food hygiene qualifications.

Rather than including these in the education section of your CV, we advise a separate “Certificates” section. This would appear lower down – generally at or towards the end.

Again, stick to the same formatting – ensure you give the recruiter sufficient information. 

Detailing incomplete qualifications or poor grades

It may be the case that you didn’t complete an educational qualification. This isn’t at all uncommon

However, an incomplete qualification may still be worth including in your CV education section depending on your circumstances.

For example, by including information about an incomplete degree course, you avoid questions about a gap in your CV.

Furthermore, you may be able to highlight specific successes or completed modules that are relevant to the role.

If you’re not happy with your grades, simply leave them out. As discussed above, it isn’t essential to include your grades unless they are really worth shouting about.

CV education section: how to include your degree, A-Levels and GCSEs

It’s important to follow best practices when it comes to your CV education section; however, the significance of this information almost always reduces as an individual’s career progresses.

Depending on the stage you’re at in your career, the type of job you’re applying for, and the type of your educational qualifications, you may want to adopt a bespoke approach. 

As a new graduate or school leaver, using the correct format is key – you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

If you’d like to discuss any of the above further, or are looking to make use of one of our CV writing service packages, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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