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What changes will be facing GCSE exam students this summer?

PUBLISHED: 20:00 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:29 15 May 2018

Students taking school exams. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire

Students taking school exams. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire

Exam season is about to start for thousands of teenagers across Norfolk. As major changes are being introduced to the GCSE grading system, reporter SOPHIE WYLLIE looks at what this means for pupils and parents.

A GCSE exam pupil taking a test. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA WireA GCSE exam pupil taking a test. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

For several decades GCSEs have been graded A* to G.

Natasha Devon, co-founder of the Self Esteem Team. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNatasha Devon, co-founder of the Self Esteem Team. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But over the next two years these familiar grades will be completely replaced by numbers 9-1.

The highest number represents A* and the lowest number represents a grade G.

These so-called “gold standard” qualifications, which were introduced last summer, will cover 20 subjects.

Schools standards minister Nick Gibb said: “These more rigorous, gold-standard GCSEs are helping to nurture the next generation of scientists, linguists and historians. Whatever pupils want to do with their lives, these qualifications will prepare them for future success and help deliver the skills Britain needs to be fit for the future.”

How will the new GCSEs be graded?

The new GCSEs in England have a 9 to 1 grading scale.

What do the numbers mean?

9 is higher than a current A*;

8 is between and A* and A;

7 is are equal to an A;

6 is equivalent to a high B;

5 is between a B and C;

4 is equal to a grade C;

3 is in between a D and E;

2 is between an E and F;

1 is a G; U refers to an ungraded paper.

Do the old and new GCSE grading scales directly compare?

No - but there are three points where they match up.

The bottom of grade 7 is level with the bottom of grade A;

The bottom of grade 4 is level with the bottom of grade C;

The bottom of grade 1 is level with the bottom of grade G.

What will the new standard pass level be?

The new standard pass will be grade 4 or above - equivalent to a C grade or higher.

A grade 4 is the minimum level that students need to achieve in English and maths.

If this level is not reached they will have to continue to study these subjects during post-16 education.

This requirement does not apply to other subjects.

The Department for Education recognises a grade 5 and above in English or maths as a strong pass.

Who will set the GCSE result requirements?

Employers, universities and colleges will continue to set the GCSE grades they need for entry to employment or further study.

What happens to former students who have the old A*-G grades when looking for work/education places?

The old A* to G grades will remain valid for future employment or study.

What subjects will be examined under the new numbering structure by 2018?

English language, English literature, maths, art and design, biology, chemistry, citizenship studies, combined science, computer science, dance, drama, food preparation and nutrition, French, geography, German, classical Greek, history, Latin, music, physical education (including short course), physics, religious studies (including short course), and Spanish.

What subjects will be graded under the new numbering structure by 2019?

The above subjects, plus ancient history, Arabic, astronomy, Bengali, business, Chinese, classical civilisation, design and technology, economics, electronics, engineering, film studies, geology, Italian, Japanese, media studies, modern Greek, modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Polish, psychology, Russian, sociology, statistics and Urdu.

What subjects will be graded under the new numbering structure by 2020?

All the above subjects, plus biblical Hebrew, Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese and Turkish.

Will the new grading system bring about any changes to the examined GCSE subjects?

All GCSE subjects will be revised for courses starting by 2018 and examined by 2020.

How will the GCSE exam certificates look under the changing system?

Between 2017 and 2019, GCSE exam certificates may have a combination of number and letter grades, depending on the mix of subjects taken.

By 2020, all exam certificates will contain only number grades.

How are the GCSEs examined?

Most exams will be taken at the end of two-year courses rather than throughout the year.

There will be fewer bite-sized questions and more essay-style questions.

Coursework and controlled assessment will disappear from most subjects, apart from practical ones including art, dance and drama.

Coping with exam stress

Increasing numbers of teenagers are dealing with academic stress.

That is the claim being made by mental health campaigner Natasha Devon.

Ms Devon travels round schools to talk to teenagers about issues they face on a daily basis.

She said: “When I started doing this 10 years ago, body image and friendship dynamics were the biggest worries. They have been overtaken by academic stress.

“Young people are exposed to a lot more current affairs, compared with when I was at school. They are hearing about subjects including the housing crisis and student debt. Their future prospects are being beamed onto their consciousness.”

Ms Devon added young people facing exams should not “suffer in silence”.

She advised that writing down concerns or speaking about them to teachers or parents helped people take control of their worries.

Visit www.natashadevon.com for tips.

SATs exams start

As well GCSEs hundreds of children across the county will be tackling SATs exams this summer.

The SATs are taken by Year 2 and Year 6 pupils, aged six and seven and 10 and 11.

The exams for the Year 2 children cover English and maths.

The exams for Year 6 students cover maths, English, and science.

In summer 2016 both sets of exams were changed to reflect the changes to the national curriculum.

The tests are set externally but are marked by teachers within schools.

Youngsters who take SATs are given a scaled score.

That is based on the total number of marks a pupil scores in a test, based on the number of questions they answered correctly.

Pupils scoring at least 100 will have met the expected standard on each test.

80 is the lowest scaled score that can be awarded and 120 is the highest scaled score.

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