UK Students SEVERELY Demoralised with New 9-1 GCSE Grades and Here’s Why

3 years ago



The New 9-1 GCSE grading has been rolled out in more subjects this academic year. However, not everyone is pleased with the changes in the grading system. The UK school leaders believe  that students will be demoralised by this move as they are likely to get lower grades in their exams. The Typical Student team previously told you about New 9-1 GCSE Grading System: KEY DIFFERENCES 2018 (+INFOGRAPHIC). Feel free to refresh your memory if you don’t remember the differences.

What’s the Matter with the NEW 9-1 GCSE?

uk-students-demoralized-new-9-1-gcse-grades-01First off, students that score less than a 4 in the new GCSE (the equivalent of C under the old system) will need to “have their achievements recognized in a "better way." These days 16-year-olds across the UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) will finally get the GCSE results. In England, will have their tests marked using the 9-1 system, with 9 being the highest grade, and 1 being the lowest. 

Here’s what you need to know about the new GCSE grading system:

  • The 9-1 scheme is meant to gradually replace the A*-G grades. It is the biggest “shake-up” of exams in England for the past decades. 
  • The exams taken under the 9-1 scheme have been made tougher. As told by the SkyNews, referencing the Cambridge Assessment research, only about 200 students could actually score a “clean sweep of 9s in all of their GCSEs this year.”

New vs. Old GCSE Grading Scheme


In 2017, one in five (20%) UK GCSE entries scored at least an A (7 under the new system)

⅔ of students (66.3%) scored at least C (4 under the new system). The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has voiced concerns about worsened student performance. Initially, the 9-1 scheme was meant to provide a greater differentiation between grades replacing  A* and A with three different grades, 7, 8 and 9.

With grade 4 being a 'standard pass' and a grade 5 being a 'strong pass', students who achieved grades 1, 2 and 3, aren’t likely to feel benefits of the new system. As told by SkyNews, in 2017, students who sat the higher tier maths course had to score at least 18% on average to secure a grade 4, while on average, 52% was needed for a 7, and 79% for a grade 9.


In 2018, 20 GCSE subjects will be awarded grades using the new 9-1 system (with 7 being a broad equivalent to an A, and a 4 broad equivalent to a C). The polls conducted among students this year demonstrate that ⅔ of teenagers have concerns about the new 9-1 GCSE grading system.

69% of the 1,000 respondents aged 14 to 17 who are currently waiting for their GCSE results, voiced concerns about the new grading system.

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