Whether you remember O Levels or CSE’s or not, it’s important, as a parent that you understand the GCSE system including the new GCSE grading system so that you are in with the best chance of helping your child as they navigate the system.
How does the new GCSE grading system work?
GCSEs were first introduced in the late 80s as a more child-focused way of assessment. O Levels were based solely on examinations whereas GCSEs take into account a child’s body of work and offer more subjects. The GCSE grading system has changed, they used to be graded on a letter scale, A through to G until changes were made in 2016.
The brand-new system was confusing for many people. Rather than grading A*, A, B and so on, grading is now represented by a number. So from 9 down to 1 with 9, 8 and 7 being the highest results possible and equivalent to A* and A. Only the top 20% will achieve a 9 and that’s equivalent to the all-desirable *. Some people classify a 9 as more like an A** and an 8 as an A* with 7 representing an A.
Who marks the papers?
That’s done by an independent exam board. There are a number of these in the UK and schools use different boards. You can ask which one your child’s school uses if you are interested though it’s commonplace for schools to use more than one. Exam boards are also responsible for setting the examinations.
When are GCSEs?
Exam dates for different boards vary but GCSEs take place over a 2 or 3 year time span. But that depends on your child’s school! You can ask about this. Studying begins in year 9 or year 10 and ends in the spring or summer term of year 11.
When do students choose their subjects?
This happens at the completion of year 8 or year 8 depending on your child’s school. Schools usually run Options Evenings which is a good time for your child to learn more about their different choices. Parents can attend these evenings too.
When should GCSE revision start?
The coldest, wettest month – January! That’s the time when your child should ideally begin to revise. Some children might start sooner and some later but January is ideal for most.
When do GCSE exams happen?
The examinations run from May 14th or thereabouts to the end of June in years 10 and 11. You can check with your child’s school for exact dates though. Results are released in August.
Help your child to prepare and to try their best but also to relax. Nothing is so important that your child experiences anxiety. Exams can be retaken if the results are not what your child wanted. As this independent school in Somerset believes, success is important but so is happiness.