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    People used to do CSEs and/or O-levels. Both were scrapped and replaced with the GCSE. The average mark around 1984 was CSE grade 4.
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    I am not sure you can compare like for like. On the one hand, success rates were not as high so you could assume they were harder, but having recently seen how schools operate around exam time, there were no additional lessons, mentoring, tutoring, exam technique training and all the other rigmarole that is forced on pupils to ensure they do good for the school's league table standing. There is no doubt that students deserve the marks they achieve but when 20%+ of pupils are getting As and A*s, it kind of waters down the achievement.
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    (Original post by triassic)
    People used to do CSEs and/or O-levels. Both were scrapped and replaced with the GCSE. The average mark around 1984 was CSE grade 4.
    You have to remember that education has undergone a transformation and therefore the old CSE cannot be used as a comparison to modern exams.

    CSE grade 1 was often referred to as O-level equivalent grade C. In some ways, Grade 1 CSE was harder to achieve than O-level grade C since the grade boundaries were set higher because in those days, it was all about quota's and capping them to limit the numbers achieving the highest grades.

    GCSE has a roughly equivalent system with lower and higher tier, where the lower tier limits the highest grade attainable to B.

    I also don't think one can compare the O-level grade A and B with the GCSE equivalent. They were not so much academically harder (although the harder questions were more equivalent to AS+ level today), rather, that the teaching methods, presentation, study materials, teaching ability, external support etc. was then in no way even remotely comparable to modern standards. In reality, that's what made it a whole lot harder and the fact that everyone sat the same set of papers regardless of higher/lower tier ability.

    That's about it - conceptually similar but completely different in execution.
 
 
 
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