An employer’s guide to the new GCSE grading system
Friday, August 4, 2017

Students anticipating their GCSE results in a matter of weeks will be the first to have their English literature, English language and maths results graded from 9–1.

Yet, despite coming into imminent effect, recent research has shown that over a third of UK employers are unaware of this change, while only 28% understood the grading system.

A lot of questions have therefore been raised about how the grading reform will affect both students and employers.

In order to help decipher the complexity of the new grading system, we have broken it down into nine key aspects that employers should be aware of:

  • 9 is the highest grade.
  • Fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s under the old system.
  • The previous span of A*–C will be covered by 9–4 in the new system. A low level 4 will be the equivalent of a low C.
  • Grades 7 and above are equivalent to the old A/A*, so high achievers will obtain grades in this region.
  • In 2017 this is the current grading system for GCSEs in English literature, English language and maths only.
  • The remaining subjects are still graded by the ‘old’ letters classification, but most will move to the number system by 2019, with all subjects eventually using the new system.
  • GCSEs graded the new way will be more challenging and more exam-based, and the exams being taken at the very end of the course.
  • These changes only apply to schools in England. Schools elsewhere in the UK will not be introducing the new system.
  • The reform allows employers and teachers to differentiate students of different abilities to a greater degree, and to apply the necessary teaching/training accordingly.

It’s important to understand the new grading system as soon as possible in order to make informed decisions when selecting candidates who have achieved numbers, rather than letters.

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