GCSE and A-level qualifications are being reformed. The new subjects are being introduced gradually, with the first wave of GCSE reforms being taught from September 2015. Subjects that have not been reformed will no longer be available for teaching from September 2018.

Reformed GCSEs:

  • Will have more demanding content
  • Designed for a two-year period of study
  • Will be linear, so students will take all of their exams at the end of the course
  • Degree of non-exam assessment will reflect the balance and nature of the new subject content
  • Will have a new grading scale from 9 (top grade) to 1
  • Students studying combined science will receive one of 17 possible grades, from 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 2-3... to 9-9

Here are the nine things we think you need to know about GCSE reforms:

9 GCSEs in England are being reformed and will be graded on a new scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade and 1 being the lowest.

8 New GCSE content will be more challenging

7 Fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s

6 English Language, English Literature and Mathematics will be the first to be graded from 9 to 1 in 2017

5 Another 20 subjects will have 9 to 1 grading in 2018, with most others following in 2019. During this transition, students will receive a mixture of letter and number grades

4 The new grades are being brought in to signal that GCSEs have been reformed and to better differentiate between students of different abilities

3 In the first year each new GCSE subject is introduced, broadly the same proportion of students will get grades 1, 4 and 7 and above as would have got grades G, C and A and above respectively in the old system

2 Regulators in Wales and Northern Ireland are not introducing the new 9 to 1 grading scale as part of the changes to GCSEs in their jurisdictions

1 You can see how the 9 to 1 grades compare using the below table:

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