GCSE results and grades explained: Is a 3 or a 4 a pass?

STUDENTS are set to find out their GCSE results amid another shakeup to the assessment criteria.

For the second year in a row, exams have been cancelled and grades have been determined by teachers due to coronavirus. Here we explain what it all means.

How do GCSE grades work?

Traditional A*-G grades have been scrapped and replaced with a 9-1 system amid reforms, with 9 the highest result.

A 4 is broadly equivalent to a C grade, and a 7 broadly equivalent to an A.

In 2017 the grading system was overhauled so that instead of using letters as had been the tradition, students would receive a number 1-9.

2020 was the first time that all students received their grades with the new system after a few years of phasing it in.

This is now the case for GCSE students who will get numerical grades for all their subjects as all courses have now moved over to the new grading system.

The number system came into place in an attempt to make GCSEs tougher.

It's believed that it will help students appear more attractive to potential employers as higher grades now have more distinction than the old system.

How new grades GCSE's roughly compare to the old ones:

  • A* – 9
  • A – 8
  • B – 6
  • C – 4
  • E – 3
  • F – 2
  • G -1
  • U – U

What is a pass and what is a fail? 

The extra grade allocation will provide more differentiation across the mark range.

Pupils now need either 4 for a standard pass and 5 for a "strong pass," replacing the traditional boundary of a C grade.

A pass is therefore indicated by one of six grades, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Exams watchdog Ofqual have said that anyone who achieves the highest grade of a 9 has "performed exceptionally.

Meanwhile, the lowest grade is a one and, if a student does not pass, it will show on their results sheet as "Not Classified" or similar.

Who decides the grade for each pupil?

Results will be based on teachers' predictions.

Teachers were asked to give a grade they thought each pupil would have got had they sat the exams.

This is based on various pieces of coursework and mock exams.

What happens if I fail an exam?

This year has been very different due to Covid cancelling summer A-Level exams.

But, there are a couple of options if you fail a test or don't do as well as you had hoped.

Students in England can opt to retake their GCSE exams in November – providing the opportunity to improve on the grade they receive.

Alternatively, students have the option to enter again for the summer 2022 exams.

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