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Understanding GCSE 9 to 1 grading

Numbers are replacing letters in the new grading system for reformed GCSEs in England. The new 9 to 1 grades were awarded for the first time in summer 2017 for English Language, English Literature and Mathematics and this year, 20 new GCSEs will be awarded using the new system. By 2020, all reformed GCSEs in England will be using the new system, ultimately replacing the current A*–G grading scale.

Below is some useful information to help your understanding of 9 to 1, ahead of results day on 23 August 2018:

Why has the grading system changed?

The 9 to 1 grading system has been put in place to accurately reflect the differentiation of students’ abilities and achievements in each subject compared to the previous A* to G scale. The system provides more differentiation, especially among higher achieving students.

Which Eduqas GCSEs will be awarded 9 to 1 in summer 2018?

The following GCSEs will be awarded using the new 9 to 1 grading system in summer 2018:

Art and Design (all internal units), Biology, Chemistry, Combined Science, Computer Science, Drama, English Language, English Literature, Food Preparation and Nutrition, French, Geography A, Geography B, German, History, Latin, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education (Full course), Physical Education (Short course), Physics, Religious Studies (full course Route A and B), Religious Studies (Short course) and Spanish.

What’s the highest grade?

9 is the highest grade, and 1 is the lowest (not including U). Although direct comparisons are not encouraged, to help your understanding against the old grading system, take a look at our infographic. For universities, employers and other organisations that previously set entry requirements of at least a C, the equivalent requirement will now be a grade 4.

Grade descriptors for 9 to 1 GCSEs

Ofqual has developed grade descriptors for the reformed GCSEs graded 9 to 1. The grade descriptors are designed to provide an indication of the likely level of performance at grades 2, 5 and 8. Ofqual's grade descriptors have been developed with awarding organisations and subject experts and, drawing on the relevant subject content published by the Department for Education (DfE) as well as the assessment objectives published by Ofqual. They’re not designed to be used for awarding purposes, unlike the ‘grade descriptions’ that apply to current GCSEs graded A* to G.

Helpful resources

Ofqual has also developed a number of free helpful digital resources:

Grading the new GCSE science qualifications

How the top grades will be awarded in new GCSEs

9 things you should know about 9 to 1 GCSE grades

GCSE 9 to 1 grades: a brief guide for parents

Ofqual consultation: Setting the grade standards of new GCSEs in England: 2017 & 2018

Ofqual 9 to 1 Facebook page

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