What new GCSEs will look like

The main features of the new GCSEs are:

  1. 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.
  2. Assessment will be mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.
  3. There will be new, more demanding content, which has been developed by government and the exam boards.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Resit opportunities will only be available each November in English language and maths

9 things to know about the new GCSE grades

  1. GCSEs in England are being reformed and will be graded with a new scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade.
  2. New GCSE content will be more challenging.
  3. Fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s.
  4. English language, English literature and maths were the first to be graded from 9 to 1 in 2017.
  5. 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.
  6. The new grades are being brought in to signal that GCSEs have been reformed and to better differentiate between students of different abilities.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. You can see how the 9 to 1 grades compare with the A* to G scale in Ofqual’s  GCSE grading postcard.

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