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

THOUSANDS of students are set to find out their GCSE results after exams returned for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

But what does each grade mean and how do you know if you've passed? Here we explain everything you need to know.

How do GCSE grades work?

Traditional A*-G grades have been scrapped in England and are now replaced with a 9-1 system which was introduced alongside a new GCSE curriculum.

The highest grade is marked at a 9, while 1 is the lowest grade a student can receive.

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

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The number system came into place in an attempt to make GCSEs tougher – and put less emphasis on GCSE coursework than before, with grades in almost all subjects decided in final exams.

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
  • Lower grade A – 7
  • B – 6
  • Lower grade 5 – 5
  • 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.

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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?

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic, exam boards will once again be deciding the grades that each pupil receives.

In previous years, teachers were asked to give a grade they thought each pupil would have got had they sat the exams.

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

What happens if I fail an exam?

If you fail an exam remember not to panic – there are options and solutions if you don't do as well as you hoped.

The best first step is to talk to a teacher they trust for some advice.

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

It is still possible to reach college or sixth form with a failed grade, but if it is in English or Maths, it is likely you will be asked to re-sit the exam as a condition of your offer while pursuing A-Levels or BTecs.

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Alternatively, students have the option to enter again for the summer 2023 exams.

It's important to stress that a failed grade is not the end of the world and can just be a bump in the road for those looking to go further in education or get their first job.

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