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  • Dushan Attanayake

New GCSE 9-1 grading system explained

In the summer of 2017 a new grading system was introduced to replace the old A* to U system. Under the old system the lowest grade was a U and the top grade was an A*. The new system consists of numbers from 9-1 and the top grade is a level 9. Many students and parents (even some teachers) are perplexed by this and it is important to get a vivid idea about the new grading system.


The first thing to understand is that the old system had 9 passes (A*, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, U) and the new system has 10 possible grades (9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, U). So, it is inevitable that the old system does not match exactly with the new system. In fact, the new system is better in differentiating students according to their ability level. For instance, in the old system a student who just scraped an A* and a student who got 99% or 100% were both put in the same basket. But , the new system allows to identity those high achievers. For example in June 2018 only 2.9% of students achieved level 9 in GCSE Maths compared to about 7% who achieved A*s in 2016.


Moreover, the new system identifies the students who just obtains a pass mark as level 4 (a standard pass) and those who get a pass mark well above the grade boundary as level 5 (a strong pass) . Level 7 is equivalent to an A and level 8 and 9 align with the top achievers.


-by Dushan Attanayake

(B.Sc.Hons- Geo.Sp. MA Education (STEM).Lond. QTLS)

Maths and Science Teacher/tutor and GCSE Examiner


My email: educator@mathsciedu.co.uk



Further reading:

https://ofqual.blog.gov.uk/2018/03/02/gcse-9-to-1-grades-a-brief-guide-for-parents/







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