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WATCH: We explain new grades system on GCSE Results Day 2018

PUBLISHED: 05:00 23 August 2018

GCSE results day at St Benedict's Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds in 2017.

 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

GCSE results day at St Benedict's Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds in 2017. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

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GCSE results day is here, and students are nervously awaiting the moment of truth. Here’s your guide to the new grading system being rolled out for many subjects this year.

Thousands of students across Suffolk and north Essex will today be heading into their schools and colleges to pick up their results

Many will be nervously waiting to find out whether they have the grades they need to do their chosen subjects for A-Levels or other courses.

However, instead of the familiar A* to G grades, many subjects will now be graded 1 to 9, under the new system which was first introduced in 2017 for English and maths.

GCSE results day at Chantry Academy in 2017. Picture: GREGG BROWNGCSE results day at Chantry Academy in 2017. Picture: GREGG BROWN

This year 20 subjects studied by large numbers of students are moving to the new grades, where 9 is the highest score and 1 is the worst. These include biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, French, Spanish, RE, geography, music, and history.

But it will take until summer 2020 to complete the changeover from letters to numbers for all subjects.

Why has the system changed?

Ormiston Sudbury Academy students celebrate after receiving their results in 2017.  Picture: ORMISTON SUDBURY ACADEMYOrmiston Sudbury Academy students celebrate after receiving their results in 2017. Picture: ORMISTON SUDBURY ACADEMY

Grades have been shaken up as part of a wider reform of exams, which has seen a complete overhaul of the content of GCSEs and the way courses are structured. There are now more exams and less coursework.

England’s government regulator, Ofqual, says that GCSEs “have been reformed to keep pace with universities’ and employers’ demands.”

The new system is designed to signal that GCSEs have been reformed, and to distinguish the new-look exams from the older system. The new grades are also intended to differentiate better between students of different abilities.

Students of Westbourne Academy after receiving their GCSE results in 2017. Picture: WESTBOURNE ACADEMYStudents of Westbourne Academy after receiving their GCSE results in 2017. Picture: WESTBOURNE ACADEMY

How does the new grading system compare with the old one?

The old and new grading scales do not directly compare. However, pupils who would have received a ‘C’ grade or above under the old system will now get at least a 4.

Top grades 9, 8 and 7 replace the A* and A grades, but fewer students will get a 9 than previously received an A*. (This has been estimated at around 5%, down from 8%.)

Ofqual has been publishing materials about the changes and explaining how the new grades will work.

Last year, 63.1% of GCSE students in Suffolk achieved at least a grade 4 (the old C grade) in English and maths, ranking joint 83rd in a league table of 151 local authorities. In Essex, 65.3% of students achieved a grade 4 or better in the two subjects, meaning the county was joint 59th in the table. The national state-funded average was 63.9%.

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