GCSE Grading Frequently Asked Questions

Are employers aware of the changes to GCSE grading? 

CCEA is engaging with employers and employer organisations, to help them understand the changes to GCSE grading and to ensure that everyone has the necessary information to enable them to make safe and fair decisions based on GCSE grades.

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How will university entry requirements reflect changes to GCSE grading?

CCEA is engaging with universities, to ensure that they have all the necessary information to enable them to make safe and fair decisions based on GCSE grades.

Universities set their own entry requirements for courses and make offers to students which are generally based on A level results. Many universities also set eligibility criteria which potential students must meet if they are to receive an offer for a course. These criteria may include GCSE results, mainly at C and above.

Over 80% of universities that took part in a recent UCAS survey indicated that if they have asked for a grade C in the past they would continue to do so, or a grade 4 in the 9-1 grading scale.

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How will universities allocate points for GCSEs for competitive courses?

Some universities allocate points for GCSE grades for a small number of highly competitive courses, like medicine and dentistry. Queens University Belfast (QUB) currently allocates points for grades A* and A for these courses.

With the introduction of 9-1 GCSE grades, QUB will allocate the following points:

  • 4 points to grades A*, 8 and 9; and
  • 3 points to grades A and 7.

Once the new CCEA grading is introduced, QUB will allocate the following points:

  • 4 points to grades A* and 9; and
  • 3 points to grades A, 7 and 8.

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Will the status of a “C” grade remain the same? What is the equivalent of the “C” in the 9-1 grades?

For schools, FE colleges and employers that currently use a grade C as a threshold grade for entry onto courses or for a job, there is no reason to change this. When comparing number grades to letter grades, the grade 4 is equivalent to a grade C.

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Will DE performance measures for schools still be A*-C or will they change to A*-C*?

DE has no plans to change school performance measures at A*-C with the introduction of the new C* grade. For GCSEs graded 9-1 this performance measure will be 9-4.

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