GCSE number grades explained and what to do if you fail on results day (2024)

Thousands of students are eagerly anticipating their GCSE results which will be published for pupils inEngland,WalesandNorthern Irelandon 12 August.

Students are graded on a numerical system from 9 to 1, rather than from A to E, after the system changed from letters to numbers in 2018.

Ofqual believes the numerical grading system helps to better differentiate between students and their abilities.

The exam body says that in theory there will be fewer 9s as 9, 8 and 7 all correspond to the top grades of A* and A, separating students at the top end of the spectrum.

In a normal year, GSCE grades in most subjects are dependent on exams but this year, as was the case in 2020, pupils have not sat exams due to the pandemic.

Instead, their teachers have been given the responsibility to award grades.

But what are the new grades?

The numerical grading scheme was brought in at the same time as a new GCSE curriculum in England.

The highest grade awarded is 9, with the lowest being 1, not including ungraded marks (U).

To help better differentiate the top grades, 9, 8 and 7 correspond to the previous top grades of A* and A.

The numerical grades were designed by former Education Secretary Michael Gove as a way to counter grade inflation at the top end, with A and A* grades now split between three result brackets.

A 4 is broadly being compared to a C grade, although Ofqual warns against “direct comparisons and overly simplistic descriptions”.

It says that, broadly, the same proportion of teenagers will get a grade four and above as used to get a grade C or above.

What is a GCSE pass now?

Pupils previously needed a C grade in order to pass a GCSE exam. The new grading scheme has two pass marks – a standard pass is 4 and a strong pass is 5.

This means that students who get 4s across all modules will pass their exams.

However, many sixth forms will require a minimum of 5s and 6s as a condition of entry.

GCSE number grades explained and what to do if you fail on results day (1)

What if you fail Maths or English?

Appeal your grades

Due to the unprecedented circ*mstances caused by the pandemic, there has been quite some focus on making sure students aren’t at a disadvantage due to Covid-19.

Pupils can appeal grades through their school as individual establishments will have their own processes.

Resit your exams

Should students fail Maths or English, meaning getting a grade below 4, resitting is compulsory.

If a student wants a higher mark than a pass in Maths and English – 4 or above – they may have the possibility to resit an exam.

When can I resit Maths and English?

Students who achieved a grade 1, 2, or 3, or who are unhappy with their grade, can choose to sit an examination in the autumn term.

Pupils have the opportunity to resit GSCE exams in November 2021, including in Maths and English.

Should they need more time to study, students also have the possibility to resit exams in January 2022.

Students will again have the possibility to appeal or ask for a remark if unhappy with their resit results.

Will schools and colleges still accept me if I failed a course?

To study A-Levels, generally students need a minimum of five GCSEs graded between 4 and 9, including Maths and English.

Pupils who fail one or two subjects should still find they are accepted on courses, as most schools and colleges will let people study GCSEs alongside A-Levels.

GCSE number grades explained and what to do if you fail on results day (2024)
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