What are the new GCSE grades and how do they affect your child?

New GCSE grades come into force this summer. But what do they mean and will it make a difference?

Things don’t stay still for long in education. Exams are always changing – from O-levels, A-levels and CSEs to GCSEs, AS-levels, GCSEs, iGCSEs and everything in between, it can be bewildering to try and work out what’s what. Here’s our guide to the new GCSE grades starting this year and what they mean for your children, if they’re taking them this summer.

What are the new grades?

GCSEs are now graded 9-1 rather than A* to G. 9 is the highest and 1 is the lowest.

Why are they changing?

According to the government, the changes draw a line under the old GCSEs, with the new marks being much more dependent on exam results than on coursework. The 9 grade is more exceptional than the old A*. The grades can also be compared with international results more easily. For example, a 5 is in line with what the average pupil in a “high performing” country would achieve in the same subject.

Can I compare the old grades to the new ones?

You can, but it’s not intended to make direct comparisons between grades. Broadly speaking a 9 might seem the same as an A*, but it’s intended to be better than one.

Why isn’t 1 the best and 9 the worst? And why use numbers?

Good question. The numbering system was based on consultation with teachers, parents and expert, the Government says. One thing it will be easier to do is get a total of points for an individual pupil’s results, for example ten GCSEs with a 9 grade would get you 90 points, and so on.

How long will this new system be around for?

Things change very quickly. If we had a new Government, it could change again in a matter of a few years. But children are now being taught with the 9-1 system of grades in mind, so it will be this way for the next five or six years at least.

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