Reformed GCSEs in England are graded from 9 to 1, with 9 being the top grade. Combined science is graded from 9-9 to 1-1.

The new GCSE 9 to 1 grades

The vast majority of students taking GCSEs in England in 2019 will receive grades from 9 to 1. Students taking 5 lesser-taught GCSE subjects (Biblical Hebrew, Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese and Turkish) will receive letter grades in 2019 before they become numerical (9 to 1) in 2020.

9 things to know about the new GCSE grades

  1. GCSEs in England have been reformed and are graded from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade.
  2. GCSE content is more challenging.
  3. Fewer grade 9s are awarded than A*s.
  4. The new grades are being brought in to signal that GCSEs have been reformed and to better differentiate between students of different abilities.
  5. In the first year each new GCSE subject has been introduced, broadly the same proportion of students get a grade 4 or above as would have got a grade C or above in the old system.
  6. These changes are only happening in England. Wales and Northern Ireland are not introducing the new 9 to 1 grading scale as part of their changes to GCSEs.
  7. English language, English literature and maths were the first to be graded from 9 to 1 in 2017.
  8. Another 20 subjects had 9 to 1 grading in 2018, with most others following in 2019. During this transition, students received a mixture of letter and number grades.
  9. You can see how the 9 to 1 grades compare with the A* to G scale in our GCSE grading postcard.

GCSE science

GCSEs for science have changed in England. Students taking separate science GCSEs now get a grade from 9 to 1 in each subject. Combined science draws content from all three subjects and students receive an award worth two GCSEs, consisting of two equal or adjacent grades.

5 things to know about combined science GCSEs

  1. Students taking separate science GCSEs get a grade from 9 to 1 for each subject, with 9 being the highest grade.
  2. Students studying combined science receive an award worth two GCSEs, consisting of two equal or adjacent grades from 9 to 1 (9-9, 9-8, 8-8, 8-7, 7-7…to 1-1).
  3. If the numbers are different, the highest number will always be reported on the left.
  4. Students do at least 8 practical activities (16 for combined science) covering specific apparatus and techniques.
  5. Exam questions about practical work make up at least 15% of the total marks for the qualification.

More information

We’ve got lots of information to help students, parents, teachers and businesses understand the changes. You can:

And if you’ve got any questions, drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or give us a call on 0300 303 3344.

Published 3 March 2017
Last updated 6 August 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated to reflect that we are in the third year of GCSE reforms.
  2. Article now shows the updated video.
  3. Added results day guides for students and parents.
  4. First published.