Changes to GCSEs
What new GCSEs will look like
The main features of the new GCSEs are:
- A new grading scale of 9 to 1 will be used, with 9 being the top grade. This will allow greater differentiation between students and will help distinguish the new GCSEs from previous versions.
- Assessment will be mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.
- There will be new, more demanding content, which has been developed by government and the exam boards.
- Courses will be designed for two years of study – they will no longer be divided into different modules and students will take all their exams in one period at the end of their course.
- Exams can only be split into ‘foundation tier’ and ‘higher tier’ if one exam paper does not give all students the opportunity to show their knowledge and abilities.
- Resit opportunities will only be available each November in English language and maths
9 things to know about the new GCSE grades
- GCSEs in England are being reformed and will be graded with a new scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade.
- New GCSE content will be more challenging.
- Fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s.
- English language, English literature and maths were the first to be graded from 9 to 1 in 2017.
- Another 20 subjects will have 9 to 1 grading in 2018, with most others following in 2019. During this transition, students will receive a mixture of letter and number grades.
- The new grades are being brought in to signal that GCSEs have been reformed and to better differentiate between students of different abilities.
- In the first year each new GCSE subject is introduced, broadly the same proportion of students will get a grade 4 or above as would have got a grade C or above in the old system.
- These changes are only happening in England. Wales and Northern Ireland are not introducing the new 9 to 1 grading scale as part of their changes to GCSEs.
- You can see how the 9 to 1 grades compare with the A* to G scale in Ofqual’s GCSE grading postcard.