What are the new GCSEs like?

In September 2015 new GCSEs were introduced in the following subjects: 

English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Combined Science, Geography, History, Modern Languages, Religious Studies, Design & Technology, Art and Design, Drama, Dance, Music, Physical Education, Computer Science, Citizenship Studies, Cooking and Nutrition. (More subjects will be added to this list in 2016)

These new GCSEs will first be examined in the summer of 2017 for our current Year 10. They are more demanding and require higher levels of literacy and numeracy to access the top grades.

Other changes include:

  • a new grading scale that uses the numbers 1 to 9 to identify levels of performance, with 9 being the top grade. This only applies to English and Mathematics for the current Year 10.
  • a structure where all assessment happens at the end of the course and content is not divided into modules
  • exams as the default method of assessment, except where they cannot provide valid assessment of the skills required (e.g. Art)

How does the 9 to 1 grading compare to A* to G grading?

The chart to the left shows that the new grade 2 is equivalent to the old grade E, the new grade 4 is equivalent to the bottom end of the old grade C and the new grade 7 is equivalent to the old grade A. It also shows that the new national benchmark for a ‘good’ GCSE pass is a grade 5 which is approximately half a grade more challenging than the old grade C. Approximately 60% of students in the country currently achieve a grade C or above in GCSE English and Maths, with approximately 40% currently achieving a grade B.

For further information on any of these areas click on the cover image to the left to view our full Parent Guide for Assessment in Key Stage 3.