New GCSE grades

There are a number of changes in GCSE courses and examinations over the next few years. The following provides you with some information on the key changes.

  • The "old" GCSE English and Maths finished in Summer 2016.  The new GCSEs in English and Mathematics started in Summer 2017.
  • Other GCSEs will also end in Summer 17 or Summer 18.  Some will completely cease; others will be replaced by "new" GCSEs.
  • "New" GCSEs will have different grading systems.  Instead of A* - G, they will have grades 9 to 1 where 9 is the highest.
  • "New" GCSEs will be more demanding and use end of course examinations (and as little coursework as possible).


From September 2016

English Language, English Literature and Maths GCSE courses will change and will be assessed differently, with students achieving grades 9-1 rather than A*-G at the end of Summer 2017 and onwards.  Other subjects will come on line after this.

Explaining the new GCSE grades; comparing these to the “old” ones


The table on the left shows the connection between the “old” grades and “new “ grades.  The “good pass” grade for the old GCSE was set at grade C; the new “good pass” grade will be set at a higher standard.  The government intends that:

  • broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 4+ as currently achieve a grade C+
  • grade 5 will be awarded to roughly:
    • the top third of students gaining the equivalent of a grade C AND
    • the bottom third of students gaining the equivalent of a grade B
  • broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 7+ as currently achieve a grade A+ 


What will this mean for students?

  • The new 5 grade is at a higher level than the old C grade.
  • This means less students will achieve this than the old C. 
  • If students do not get a 5 or higher on the new exam, they don’t get
    what the government is going to call a “good pass”.
  • Two thirds of students who used to get a C will not get a grade 5 in the new GCSE.
  • In the future, those who don’t get a 5 or better may have to continue
    to take English and/or Mathematics at post 16. 
  • The government will accept grade 4 for the first year or so of the new system.
  • Entry to post 16 courses will need at least a 4 or 5 in either English or Mathematics.
  • Entry to some courses at post 16 will need grades 5 or 6 in English, Mathematics or both.