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How does the 9-1 GCSE grading system work?

GCSEs in England were reformed in 2018 to keep pace with universities’ and employers’ demands. They are based on new and more demanding subject content but are still suitable for the same wide range of abilities.

In recent years numbers from 9 to 1 have been used in place of letters.

The 1-9 grading scale makes it clear to everyone that students have studied the new GCSEs. It also has higher grades compared to the old A* to G grades, to give sixth forms, colleges, universities and employers the opportunity to better distinguish between students of different abilities.

The diagram above shows how the new grades compare relative to the letters system they replaced. A 9 is a higher grade than the old A* while an 8 is higher than an old A but slightly lower than an A*.

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