New GCSE Grading Structure


Pupils taking GCSEs from 2017 will have experienced a new grading structure. English language, English literature and Maths were the first subjects to use the new system in 2017. With all other subjects (including PE) adopting the changes by 2019. The changes mean that eventually all GCSEs taken in England will receive numerical grades instead of alphabetical grades. How the new numerical structure compares to the old alphabetical structure is outlined in the table below:

New GCSE Numerical Grading Structure

New Grading Structure Old Grading Structure
9 A*
7 A
6 B
4 C
3 D
2 E
1 F/G

As can be seen above, the C grade equivalent is now a grade 4. This numerical point is key because many workplaces, sixth forms, colleges and HE institutions will require a grade C or now a 4 and above in certain subjects in order to enrol on level 3 and degree courses or qualify for the workplace.


These grading changes are only happening in England. Wales and Northern Ireland are not introducing the new 9-1 grading structure. Aside from the changes from alphabetical to numerical grades, GCSE reforms also included the formulation of new GCSE content which is more challenging. Whilst it may be confusing that each system exists, hopefully as new (and then all) subjects transfer to the new system it should become easier to understand and eventually the familiar norm.

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