Bolton College
2017 GCSE Grading System

The GCSE grading system is changing in England, find out how it will affect you.

Ofqual GCSE Grading Structure


The new GCSE content is going to be more challenging to match the highest performing education systems around the world. The new system aims to better prepare students for work and further and higher education. It will also be easier to identify and reward the highest performing students.  


GCSEs will still be suitable for young people of all abilities, but syllabuses will be more challenging and knowledge-based. Exams will only be taken at the end of the course to ensure that more time can be devoted to quality teaching. 

A new grading scale is being introduced which will allow better differentiation between students of different abilities. The old A*-G grading system will be replaced with a numeric 9 to 1 grading scale, with 9 being the top grade.  

Under the new system, a grade 4 and above will be equivalent to a C and above, with grade 5 counting as a high ‘C’ and grade 4 as a low ‘C’. Only grade 5 and above will count as a ‘good pass’, but the government has stressed that where employers, further education providers and universities currently accept a grade C, they would expect them to continue recognising a grade 4.   

Grade 9 will be awarded for exceptional performance. Fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s.

High achieving students will be awarded a grade 8 or 7.  

When is this happening? 

English Language, English Literature and Maths will be graded on the new scale in 2017. This means that students taking their GCSEs in summer 2017 will receive a mixture of letter and number grades.

In 2018 another 20 subjects will be graded on the new scale, with most others following in 2019. So in 2017, 2018 and 2019 students will receive a mixture of letter and number grades.