On this page we offer a range of information pertinent to parents and students alike about GCSEs
What do the new 9-1 grades mean?
As you can see in the table below, old and new grades don’t match up like-for-like. However, a 4 is being classified as a standard pass, which can be broadly compared to a grade C, while a 5 is a strong pass.
Grades 9-7 are roughly equivalent to the old top grades of A* and A.
GCSE and Your Future
GCSEs determine the sixth form you go to
Your GCSE performance is considered a good indicator of how well you’ll do in A-level or other advanced studies, it’s the only real hard-and-fast evidence of your academic abilities a college has to go on. Many sixth forms use a scoring system, based on GCSE grades, to predict how well you’re likely to do and from that, decide whether or not to accept you.
For instance, five B grades (roughly 5 or 6) and five C grades (roughly 4 or 5) at GCSE could roughly translate to a predicted CCD at A-level, while straight A grades (7 or more) would suggest AAA is possible. The most selective collages request at least 6 GCSEs with grade A or above.
Some sixth forms may say you can’t do a particular subject unless you’ve got at least a grade A (at least a 7) in that subject at GCSE.
GCSEs may limit the universities you can apply to
Some of the top academic will ask for very high A-level grades – AAA or higher – for most courses.
Because of the assumed connection between your GCSE and A-level results, it’ll be down to you to prove you’re able to achieve top grades. Grades B and C (or a 4 to 6) at GCSE are suggestive of Cs and Ds at A-level – which won’t be enough to get into some universities.
The more competitive the university and course, the higher the number of high-achieving students with top GCSE marks applying. Some courses like those offered at the University of Bath actively state this.
Some university courses go further and ask for specific subjects at GCSE, with certain grades.
Given recent A-level reforms, universities will use your GCSE grades now more than before when deciding whether to accept you or not.
GCSEs can affect the career you end up doing
A career-related degree may also have subject-specific entry requirements:
Engineering courses such as chemical engineering: you’ll usually need A-levels or equivalent in chemistry and maths, and physics for other engineering courses, which in turn means you’ll need to have good GCSE grades in science and maths.
Medicine: competitive courses like medicine may ask for a whole suite of good GCSEs. The University of Birmingham’s medical school, for example, specifies ‘normally, applicants must offer A* grades in each of English (either English Language or English Literature), mathematics and all science subjects. Integrated Science (double certificate) is acceptable as an alternative to single sciences. Overall GCSE performance will be considered.’