GCSEs and A Levels are linear qualifications. This means all the assessment takes place at the end of the course. Linear qualifications are made up of a number of separate exams or non-exam assessment (coursework) called components.
The mark students get on each exam paper or non-exam assessment will be the component mark. There isn't a grade for each component – just a mark. This is sometimes called a raw mark.
In most cases, we just add the component raw marks together to get the total mark. For a few qualifications, some components are worth more than the others so we have to work this out first.
Each component contributes a certain percentage to the total qualification mark. In most cases, this contribution is equal – but not always. We use weighting factor to make sure each component contributes the right amount towards the total mark. We get the total mark by multiplying the raw marks by the weighting factor and then adding these marks together.
We then check the total mark against the qualification grade boundaries to get the qualification grade. The qualification grade is the final result and what will appear on the certificate.
We know it’s useful to see how students did in each component so we also publish component grade boundaries. These show what the grade would be if we gave out grades for components. Grades at component level don’t automatically add up to the same grade at qualification level.
Take a look at our info sheets, which show how this works in practice: