THE nerve-wracking wait is almost over. 

Teenagers are collecting their GCSE results and as if sitting the exams wasn't stressful enough, there's a new grading system for us all to understand.

English and maths were the first subjects to make the change to the new grades. 

But this year 20 subjects will be awarded the new-style grades. 

What is changing with GCSEs?

The government decided to change the way GCSEs are taught and marked.

Courses are now graded from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade instead of A*.

GCSEs will also be taught differently as exams boards stop dividing courses up into modules and put all of the exams at the end of a two-year programme instead of spreading assessments out.

Why have GCSEs changed?

The new courses are designed to be more challenging for pupils.

The government said the qualifications will be more demanding, meaning that teenagers will leave school ‘better prepared’ for work or university.

And it is hoped the new system will bring England up to the standard of education in other countries.

Which subjects have changed?

Maths, English language and English literature were the first courses to change.

This year the new 9 to 1 grade comes into force for the following subjects: 

  • Ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin)
  • Art and design
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Citizenship studies
  • Combined science (double award)
  • Computer science
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Food preparation and nutrition
  • Geography
  • History
  • Modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish)
  • Music
  • Physics
  • Physical education
  • Religious studies

Other subjects will still be marked A* to G.

And from 2020 year 11 pupils will get all of their grades under the 9 to 1 marking scheme.

Will my child get a lower grade under the 1 to 9 system than the A* to G system?

The Department for Education said although the new exams are more challenging, children will not get lower grades that they would have scored under the old system.

Exam boards will use statistics to make sure that roughly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 7 and above as the amount of pupils who received a grade A and above in 2017, and so on.

But they said it depends on the number of pupils who enter an exam. If more teenagers enter an exam, the average ability of those taking the test will be lower and therefore results will also be lower.

How do the new grades compare to A* to G marks?

The 9 to 1 marks are designed to distinguish between the highest performing students.

The Department for Education said a 4 is a ‘standard pass’ under the new system and all pupils need to score 4 or higher in English and maths. If they do not they will have to continue studying English and maths as part of their post-16 education.

The marking systems are not directly comparable but the bottom of grade 7 is roughly a grade A, a 4 equates to a C and a 1 is akin to a G.

Knutsford Guardian: