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GCSE 9-1 grades explained

Updated: Jan 31, 2018

A new numbered grading system has replaced the familiar A*-G for all GCSE subjects.

The 1-9 grades have been designed to make it much harder for students to get the very top grades. But don't fear... The Learning Hub is here to help students reach their very best :)

New GCSE Maths and English courses started in September 2015, and other subjects (including GCSE Science) followed suit in September 2016. The remaining courses began in September 2017.

The new courses are more challenging than ever, with all the exams set at the end of Year 11. There’s even a new ‘9-1’ grading system, where Grade 9 will be reserved for the very top tier of students.

Grade 4 is the new Standard Pass grade. If students don’t achieve a Grade 4 in Maths and English, they’ll need to continue studying these subjects.

New GCSE grade breakdown

Grade U- The lowest possible mark

Grade 1 - This roughly equates to a high G or low F

Grade 2 - Between an F and an E

Grade 3 - Slightly lower than the standard D grade

Grade 4 - A low C or pass

Grade 5 - High C to low B

Grade 6 - High B grade

Grade 7 - A

Grade 8 - High A to A*

Grade 9 - A step above the traditional A*

Further information:

  • The first new exams for GCSE Maths and English were taken in summer 2017. The new GCSE Science exams will start in summer 2018.

  • There's no Foundation Level in the new English GCSEs — students of all abilities will take the same exams.

  • There are fewer course options in the new Science GCSEs. Most students will either take the new Combined Science course (worth two GCSEs) or three separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

  • Some of the new grades match up with the old ones. A low Grade 1 is comparable to a low Grade G, a low Grade 4 is comparable to a low Grade C and a low Grade 7 is comparable to a low Grade A.

  • Coursework and practical assessments play a much smaller part in the new GCSE courses — which means most of the marks are won or lost in the exams at the end of Year 11.

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