New GCSE grades explained

GCSE grades in England have changed from letters to numbers. Here's a simple guide.


Letters are out and numbers are in. GCSE students now receive grades from 9-1. As well as changing the type of grades, this also means examiners have an additional grade to play with (the old system only had 8 grades). 

What are the new GCSE grades 1-9?

The new system goes from 9 at the top down to 1. As with current GCSEs, if a student doesn't do well enough to meet the minimum GCSE standard, they get a U.

GCSE grades

What is the equivalent of an A?

The bottom of grade 7 is the equivalent to the bottom of grade A. Roughly the same proportion of students who achieved an A and above will achieve a 7 or above.

How do I get a 9?

You'll need to be in the top 20% (roughly) of students who receive an A. 

How does 9 compare to A*?

It is harder to get so fewer students will achieve a 9 than achieved an A* in the old system.

What is the equivalent of a C?

The bottom of grade 4 is the equivalent to the bottom of grade C. Roughly the same proportion of students who achieved a C and above will achieve a 4 or above.

What is a pass?

A grade 4 is described as a ‘standard pass’ and a grade 5 as a ‘strong pass’.

What do I need to get onto A-level courses in my school or college?

This will vary between different schools and colleges. As 4 or 5 grade Cs used to be typical entry requirements for A level, it is likely that you will be asked for 4s or 5s. Some subjects may well have their own entry requirements, for example you may be asked for a 5 or even a 6 in maths GCSE to continue the subject at A level.

When is this all happening?

The new English language, English literature and maths were first assessed in 2017.  

9-1 courses for most other GCSE subjects will be first examined in 2018.

What about Wales and Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has moved to a 9-1 system but in Wales students still receive grades A*-G.

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