New GCSE Grades Explained in Brief

GCSE grades are changing from 2017.

GCSE grades are changing from 2017.

Many parents I speak to admit to a certain amount of confusion about numerical GCSE grades, which are being phased in from this August. With this in mind, I have prepared a very short summary of the changes:-


  • Lettered grades (A* – G) are being changed (gradually) to numerical grades  to (9 – 1).
  • In 2017, numerical grades (9 – 1) shall be awarded in Maths and English.
  • 9 is to be the highest grade and 1 shall be the lowest.
  • A grade 7 shall be roughly equivalent to a grade A.
  • A grade 4 shall be roughly equivalent to a grade C.
  • A grade 1 shall be roughly equivalent to a grade G.
  • Lettered grades are to be phased out entirely by 2019.
  • A numerical grade will highlight that students have taken more challenging GCSE examinations.

You can view sample papers of the new Maths GCSE examination here.  It is clearly more demanding and is designed to test mathematical dexterity with a view to developing a more ‘fluent’ generation of mathematicians.

The new, more demanding English GCSE syllabus is untiered (no Foundation or Higher – just one examination). Changes in emphasis include (but are not limited to): Comprehension, in English Language, will involve three unseen texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries; 20% of the marks in the written component will be awarded for range of vocabulary and sentence structures, spelling and punctuation; the English Literature examination must include unseen texts including texts for comparison. Comparison questions will be worth 20 – 25% of available marks. Sample English papers – and syllabi – may be viewed here.

If you need help with GCSE Maths or English, please get in touch with Paul or Christine at Better Tuition and find out how our qualified teachers can help.

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Finally, you can find out more about reforms to GCSEs by visiting Ofqual’s website.

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