As part of the government’s reform of qualifications, exam results for new GCSEs will be graded in numbers from 9 to 1 (with 9 being the top grade), instead of A* to G.
Up until 2019, students may get GCSE results in a mix of 9 to 1 and A* to G grades.
The new 9 to 1 system aims to:
Under the new 9 to 1 system, there are fewer grades for the lower ability ranges – grades 1, 2 and 3 – compared to current grades G, F, E and D. For the mid to higher ability ranges however, there are more numerical grades. Close to 20% of students across all subjects who achieve a grade 7 or above will be awarded the grade 9. Fewer students will get the new grade 9 than currently get A*.
DfE policy (updated in March 2017) distinguishes between grade 4 as a ‘standard pass’ and grade 5 as a ‘strong pass’. Both grades will be reported in school performance tables. Students achieving a ‘standard pass’ grade 4 or above in English and maths will not be required to continue studying these subjects post-16.
According to Ofqual, 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. Ofqual’s chart compares the new 9 to 1 and current A* to G grades:
Download Ofqual’s chart
Grade boundaries will not be known in advance of the exams. To protect the interests of the first students taking new exams, grade boundaries for new 9 to 1 GCSEs will be set on the basis of statistical prediction, after the exams have been taken. This approach, called comparable outcomes, which is followed by OCR and all exam boards, is designed so students are not disadvantaged because they are in the first year of new exams.
New GCSEs in subjects including maths, combined science, biology, chemistry and physics have overlapping foundation and higher tiers. For the higher tier, students will be able to get grades 9–4. A student who just misses out on a grade 4 will be awarded a grade 3. For the foundation tier, students will be able to get grades 1–5, so that students who are entered for the foundation tier can still achieve a ‘strong pass’.