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What do the new GCSE grades mean - and which subjects are changing this year?

PUBLISHED: 12:42 22 August 2018

Don't despair if you didn't get the exam results you wanted this summer. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

Don't despair if you didn't get the exam results you wanted this summer. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

Press Association Images

No coursework, two years of study, a clutch of Bs and a handful of threes - it’s a tricky time to be a GCSE student.

Students across London will collect their GCSE results tomorrow (Thursday). Photo by DGLimagesStudents across London will collect their GCSE results tomorrow (Thursday). Photo by DGLimages

Thousands of students around London are due to collect their GCSE results tomorrow (Thursday).

But this year’s results come mid-way through a major shake-up of to the system, which will eventually see all subjects moved from the traditional lettered scale, A* to U, to numbers.

The change began last year, with English and maths the first subjects to move to the numbers, which range from nine - above an A* - to a one.

While it is difficult to compare like for like, a grade four is generally considered to be a C, or a pass.

But this is the area which has caused the most concern. Generally, it is accepted that a grade four is a ‘standard pass’, while a grade five is a ‘strong pass’, a difference which has attracted criticism.

This year, more subjects will switch to the numerical system, with most others following in 2019. The changes this year are:

• Art and design

• Biology

• Chemistry

• Citizenship studies

• Combined science

• Dance

• Drama

• Food preparation and nutrition

• French

• Geography

• German

• Classic Greek

• History

• Latin

• Music

• Physical education

• Physics

• Religious Studies

• Spanish

But as well as deciphering the new results, students will be seeing the impact of new, tougher exams.

The courses are now mainly exam-based, with new content and less coursework. They are designed for two years of study with exams at the end - so no modules to break it up.

Fewer grade nines are likely to be handed out than there were A*s, with one study predicting that as few as 200 pupils will achieve a clean sweep of top grades.

We will be publishing GCSE results and pictures on our website tomorrow (Thursday).

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