It’s a brave new world for certain GCSE subjects these days. Many students are getting their results today and they might be surprised by some new numbers on their papers. Gone are the As, Bs and Cs. In are 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s.

So, what’s going on?

In 2014, Ofqual, the exams regulator in charge of how students are assessed for their GCSEs, decided to revise the grading structure. This was done so that the grades received could give better insight into a student’s performance. The new grading systems were reformed because the Secretary of State for Education at the time, Nicky Morgan, stated that there was a strong case for the new GCSEs to have a new grading system “to reflect the step change in expectations for pupils.” Those new grades for English literature, English language and mathematics are being distributed today.

Rather than being graded from A* to G, GCSEs will be graded on a scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the top grade and 1 being the lowest grade.

The new approach will mean that, broadly, the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently achieve a grade C and above, and the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 7 and above as currently achieve a grade A and above. The bottom grade of 1 will be aligned with the bottom grade of G.

Don’t get it? Here’s a handy chart to show how the two systems compare in several subjects:


For each examination, the top 20 percent of those who get grade 7 or above will get a grade 9 – these are the very highest performing students.

Grade 5 will be positioned in the top third of the marks for a current grade C and bottom third of the marks for a current grade B. This will mean it will be of greater demand than the present grade C, and broadly in line with what the best available evidence tells us is the average PISA performance in countries such as Finland, Canada, the Netherlands and Switzerland. (And we should all want to be more like Canada.)

The new maths GCSE will be tiered, with grades 4 and 5 available through both tiers.

No matter what GCSE grade you get, there’s always more than one path open to you. Whether you’re considering doing an apprenticeship, going to college or university, getting a job or taking a year off, you should know the options available.

To keep up with all the news on apprenticeships, return to our blog or follow TQUK at @tq_uk.

See you out there!