GCSEs in the UK have undergone a rehaul recently with A*, A, B, C etc. no longer being the grades that students will achieve.  By 2019 students will receive a numbered grade from 1 to 9, or a ‘U’ for ungraded.  Here is a guide to what they mean and how this impacts students.

The old grading structure went from A* to G with U being awarded for ‘ungraded’.  Now the results will be in the format of 1 – 9 with 9 being the highest mark students can achieve and U being the lowest.

Ofqual state that a grade 9 means A* while grades 8 and 7 mean A but some exam boards have communicated that grade 9 actually means ‘A**’, with 8 being A*, 7 being A and so on.  In truth there is some ambiguity around how those top grades relate to the old grading structure and when I spoke to some exam boards, they admitted the lack of clarity.

Usually exam grade boundaries are set once the exams have been set however, in the past, teachers have been able to use past exam boundaries and experience to make accurate guesses.  The only way to work with this new grading system is to do something similar – as a teacher, I personally would be reluctant to award anyone a 9 unless they got 100%.  I think that after 3 or 4 years of seeing the new grading structure in action, we will be able to be more accurate in predictions and targets.

Going back to Ofqual they state that a grade 5 or above is classed as a ‘good pass’ according to the Department of Education since it is classed as a ‘top C or above’.

My advice for now is to assume a grade 8 is the equivalent of an A* and work backwards/forwards from that.