# GCSE grades explained, what is a pass and 1-9 equivalents in letters

Year 11 pupils across London and the rest of the UK will find out what grades they achieved in their GCSEs. These results will help decide what they go on to study next, with all children now required to be in education until the age of 18.

The former GCSE grading system of A*-G remained pretty consistent for decades with parents having a good idea of their child's performance. C was needed to pass, while the grades of A and A* were handed to the best performing pupils.

But as part of the education overhaul announced in 2014, number grades between 9 and 1 were slowly introduced to replace the letter system. In 2017 the changes were made first to English and maths, before all subjects were eventually changed in 2020.

READ MORE: Education expert explains how SATs results predict how well pupils will do at GCSE

The highest grade you can now achieve is 9, with the lowest being 1. The grade of U is still given for ungraded.

### How the numerical grades compare

Where there was previously eight grades you could achieve between A*-G, the number system adds an extra one. This means how results determine grades has shifted slightly.

The grade of 9 - the highest mark - is designed to make the most exceptional pupils stand out even more. New grade boundaries show A* aligns with upper percentile of 8 along with 9, which essentially means less pupils will be achieving the highest grade.

Despite general confusion, the BBC says both the number and letter scales do meet in some places:

• the bottom of grade 7 is aligned with the bottom of grade A

• the bottom of grade 4 is aligned with the bottom of grade C

• the bottom of grade 1 is aligned with the bottom of grade G

• three number grades - 9, 8 and 7 - correspond to the two previous top grades of A* and A

### What's needed for a pass?

Where a grade of C was previously needed for a pass, the number system has changed the definition. A grade of 4 is needed for a standard pass, while 5 is needed for a strong pass.

Government school league tabled are based off how many pupils achieved a grade 5 or higher..

Some sixth forms require pupils to achieve a certain number of 5 and 6s.

### Why were these GCSE changes made?

The changes were part of the general overhaul of education in 2014. There's more of an emphasis now on exams over coursework, with the subjects designed to be more challenging.

At the time of the changes, the government argued that, external the new scale "recognises more clearly the achievements of high-attaining students, as the additional grades allow for greater differentiation", the BBC reports.

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