The lessons, revisions and exams are over – and it’s time to find out if all this effort has paid off in the form of the desired grade.
At the time, GCSEs were graded using a letter-based system: A* to G. Typically, A* was the maximum result, C was an average score, G being the lowest, below an F.
Things are different now, however, with a number-based scoring system in place.
So what do all the numbers mean? Here we explain everything to you, including the different rank limits.
What do GCSE grades 1 to 9 mean?
In short: 9 is the highest score you can get and 1 is the lowest.
If you want to think of it in terms of the old letter system, then they are comparable to:
- Grade 9 is equivalent to above an A*
- Grade 8 is the equivalent between A* and A grades
- Grade 7 is the equivalent of an A grade
- Grade 6 equates to just above a B grade
- The 5th year is the equivalent between years B and C
- Grade 4 is the equivalent of a grade C
- Grade 3 is the equivalent of grades D and E
- Grade 2 is the equivalent of grades E and F
- Grade 1 is the equivalent of grades F and G.
So if you’re looking for that hard-earned A or A*, you’re looking for a 7, 8 or 9 on your scorecard.
However, fewer students will receive a Grade 9 than they would have received an A* under the old grading system.
Indeed, part of the reason for introducing a new grading system was to allow for greater differentiation among the brightest students.
Currently this is only the scoring system for England and Wales.
Northern Ireland uses the A* to G grading system, while Scotland uses A, B, C and D grades in its GCSE equivalent qualification, the National 5. If you score less than a D, you will get “No Prize”.
When was the scoring system changed and why?
Initially this was only for the GCSEs of English Language, English Literature and Maths, before being extended to a wider range of courses in 2018 such as Art and Design, Biology, Chemistry, drama, French, geography, German, history, Spanish, physics. Education and Physics.
In 2019, even more GCSEs adopted the new system, which will be fully rolled out by summer 2020.
The move is part of a wider reform of exams, which has entailed a complete overhaul of the content and structure of the GCSEs.
Education reforms in England began in 2011, led by then Education Secretary Michael Gove. A review of the National Curriculum was first announced, with the overhaul of the GCSEs from 2013.
In 2014, Mr Gove said the new, more difficult GCSE courses “set higher expectations”.
Indeed, an Ofqual blog reads: “GCSEs in England have been reformed to keep pace with demands from universities and employers.
“They are based on new and more demanding thematic content, but are still suitable for the same wide range of abilities. The new grade scale makes it clear to everyone that pupils have studied the new GCSEs.
“It also has higher grades compared to the old A* to G grades, to give sixth graders, colleges, universities and employers the ability to better distinguish between students of different abilities.”
The new courses have far fewer lessons than the old GCSE qualifications.
Modular courses, which allowed pupils to take tests throughout their studies, have also been abandoned in favor of ‘linear’ GCSEs – in which pupils take all their exams at the end of the two-year course.
MORE: How to appeal your A-Level and GCSE results if you didn’t get the grades you hoped for
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