Everything you need to know about the new GCSE grading system.
Every August, pupils return to school to pick up their GCSE results, but this year will be a little different. A brand the new 9–1 grading system will show up in three subjects.
This summer sees the first wave of GCSE results graded in this way. Grades A* to G are gradually being phased out in favour of the numerical system, with 9 being the highest grade.
English language, English literature and mathematics are the first qualifications to get the new grading system and will be reflected in this August’s results. Another 20 subjects will have the 9 to 1 grading in 2018, with most others following in 2019. During this period of transition, students will receive a mixture of letter and number grades.
Why the change?
It’s a dramatic shift away from the alphabetised system that students, parents and teachers have grown accustomed to over the decades. So why are the exam boarding changing it?
The government has introduced the scale to allow for more differentiation among the highest-achievers. The new grading system is still ‘anchored’ in the old A*–G system. For instance, the bottom of grade 7 is equivalent to the bottom of a grade A while the bottom of a 1 is aligned to the bottom of a G.
According to The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) new GCSE content will be more challenging, with fewer grade 9s expected to be awarded than A*s.
How will this affect the first cohort?
Teachers have complained that Year 11 pupils are being unfairly used as guinea pigs for this summer’s changes to GCSEs.
Pupils who took their English and maths GCSEs this year will be the first to get the new numerical grades. These results will have an impact on university applications as well as getting on to A-level courses. Educationalists have complained of possible confusion and upset on results day.
A number of universities have minimum entry grades at GCSE level such as a C grade pass at maths and English. Because GCSEs are switching to numerical grades, there is uncertainty because both 4 and 5 are officially classed as pass grades.
Those who get a grade 4 in English and maths, will already be below the threshold for some universities before they even begin their A-level courses.