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A Detailed Look at English Language Proficiency

Learning a new language is not an easy task, especially a difficult language like English. Use this simple guide to distinguish the levels of English language proficiency.

Beginner and Elementary English Language Proficiency Levels

The first two of the levels of English language proficiency are the beginner level and the elementary level. In the Beginner Level, a person can travel with basic English words, and he or she knows the English pronunciation basics. During the elementary level, a person can give answers to simple questions, to make simple sentences and order food or go shopping without major difficulty. The elementary level also includes writing basic words and speaking clearly about family routines, per Embassy English.

Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate English Language Proficiency Levels

During the pre-intermediate English language proficiency level, a person can speak confidently in English, is able to have a conversation and can read and write simple text. Level A vocabulary answers are provided at this stage of the learning process. The intermediate English language proficiency level includes taking part in conversations that are routine, understanding level B vocabulary answers and making notes for meetings and lectures. A person at the Intermediate level might extract important information from a document that is written, according to Embassy English.

Upper Intermediate English Language Proficiency Level

A person with the upper intermediate level of English language proficiency is able to take part in conversations that are extended, read and write most text to include essays and understand the majority of a typical television program. Upper Intermediate English language proficiency also means that a person would understand the presentation of a lecture and level B vocabulary answers, according to TrackTest.

Advanced Level of English Proficiency

The Advanced level of English proficiency includes taking part in conversations that are lengthy and complicated. A person can complete answers to vocabulary level C and write and understand most text. Advanced learners are also able to easily understand the television, plays, lectures and films along with presentations. Advanced English learners understand both professional and academic documents without hesitation, according to Embassy English

Proficient in the English Language

The final level of English language ability is proficient. When a person is proficient in the English language, he or she is competent in the language and works to increase his or her understanding of the nuances of the language. A proficient person engages in reading that is independent and strives to continue to develop his or her vocabulary. A person at this level of English proficiency is able to function without direction from a teacher, according to Teachers First.


ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

School Entrance Tests

What do the a-level grade boundaries mean.

Welcome to our A-Level trends guide and A-level grade boundaries explained.

How will A-Level grade boundaries work?

According to exam board OCR, a grade boundary is a minimum mark you need to get a grade and this is set at the qualification level. For example, if the grade boundary for a Grade A is 160 marks, you need to get at least 160 to achieve a Grade A. This would mean a mark of 159 would therefore be a Grade B.

Our FREE 6th Form A-level resources

  • When is A-Level Results Day?
  • How are AQA A-Level grade boundaries calculated  and What does each A-level grade boundary mean?
  • Which London sixth forms are nearby?
  • 16+ exam papers practice Year 11.
  • A-level papers for revision.  and  private London sixth form entrance guide .

Once all papers have been marked, exam boards use an awarding committee which consists of senior examiners who are experts in that subject to carry out the process . If a large percentage of students sitting an exam achieve high marks, the threshold you need to reach to achieve any grade is likely to be higher.

The opposite is true if large amounts of students struggle with an exam and achieve lower marks. Grade boundaries change every year and are modified according to the difficulty of the paper after it has been taken.

For example, one high performing London secondary school explained its overall 2022 A-Levels performance thus:

Our Year 13 students have excelled in their A-Level and BTEC exams. These were the first formal public exams in two years. We remain one of the most high-achieving comprehensive schools in West London.

Who are we?

We speak as expert test developers ourselves. Infact you can contact our Founder, Rob Williams, at  [email protected]

Rob Williams

Trends in A-Level 2022 results

Of course Ofqual wanted to bring grades back down from the sharp rises in 2020 and 2021. As did, the Welsh and the Northern Irish education authorities.

A-Levels results day 2023 and 2023 A-level grade boundaries explained

Top 2022 A-Level grades fell

  • The percentage of top A-level results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland fell. Overall A-Level grades, 36.4% were A* or A.
  • This compares to 44.8% in 2021.
  • Although that’s still higher than 2019; the previous year when public A-Level exams were held.

Uni places was toughest for the most academically selective universities

  • Still, according to UCAS; 65.3% of students who applied to UK universities were accepted by their first choice destination.

A-Levels results day 2022 A-level grade boundaries explained

Regional Differences persisted

  • In London, 39% of A-levels were graded A* and A, compared with 30.8% of exam grades in the north east of England. Last year, it was 47.9% in London and 39.2% in the north east of England. Students receiving their results on Thursday were part-way through Year 11 when the pandemic hit and schools closed during national lockdowns.
  • Further school closures followed while they were in Year 12, and many pupils also experienced disruption due to Covid at the beginning of Year 13 as well.
  • But the disruption did not affect everyone equally. Their experience varied depending on how different regions were affected by the pandemic, and how far schools and families were able to cope during closures.

The gap between state and private schools narrowed

  • According to England’s exam regulator, Ofqual, 58% of private school candidates in England were awarded A* and A grades, compared with 30.7% of state school pupils.
  • Fee-paying schools did particularly well last year when teachers’ assessments were the basis for A-level grades.
  • In 2021, some 70.4% of private school pupils were given A grade or above, compared with just 39.4% of state schools.
  • While this year’s percentage-point gap is narrower, it’s still significant.
  • And it matters because those pupils with top grades will be the ones vying for places at the most competitive universities and on the most heavily contested courses.
  • Not all pupils received the same support – academic and emotional – when schools closed during lockdowns and students were forced to learn remotely.
  • Some schools were better able to provide laptops to pupils for remote learning. Their pupils may have had more access to computers and to the internet at home, or more physical space in which to learn.

Girls outperformed boys

  • Girls performed better than boys across the board in this year’s A-level results.
  • That includes the percentage of pupils achieving top grades. In total, 37.4% of girls’ entries were given A* and A grades, compared with 35.2% of boys’ entries.
  • The gap is smaller than it was in 2021, however, when grades were based on teachers’ assessments. That approach led to 46.9% of female candidates being given top grades compared to 42.1% of male candidates.
  • Nonetheless, the gap between the sexes remains bigger than in 2019, the last year public exams were held prior to the pandemic. Back then it was 25.5% for girls versus 25.4% for boys.
  • It’s important to remember that exams weren’t back to normal this year. Pupils had extra information, such as formulae sheets and advanced warning of topics, ahead of their exams.

Geography bumped English Literature from the top 10 most popular subjects

The top 10 most popular A-level subjects are now:

2. Psychology

4. Chemistry

6. Sociology

7. Art and design subjects

8. Business studies

10. Geography

Psychology entries increased the most among the top 10 compared with last year, followed by Business Studies, and Sociology.

Political Studies entries also shot up by 11%.

The number of German A-level entries went up by 3.5%, but Spanish and French both fell.

Entries to English Literature, meanwhile, fell by 9.4% – a trend that has raised concern among head teachers.

Summary of other key points for 2022 A-Levels system

  • The 20,360 total is up 46 per cent on the 13,930 students left without a place on results morning last year, though down from 24,260 in 2019 when exams were last sat before Covid.
  • Today’s A-level results have seen the number of top A* and A top grades plunge as exams regulator Ofqual began to tackle two years of panemic grade inflation.
  • In total, 425,830 students have been accepted on to degree courses, according to Ucas; down 2 per cent on the same point last year.
  • There are more than 27,000 university courses available in clearing, as well as apprenticeships, the admissions service said.
  • Despite the higher numbers of students left without a place in higher education, this year is still the second highest year for university admissions ever.
  • Last year broke the record for degree course acceptance, with 435,430 people confirming places. This year’s total is up 16,870 on 2019, when exams were last held.
  • According to Ucas, the number of 18-year-olds in the UK who got their first or insurance choice increased this year, up 19 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.
  • It also said that the number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds had nearly doubled when measured against pre-pandemic years, from 3,770 in 2019 to 6,850 in 2022.
  • Around 12.3 per cent of the full-time undergraduate places – which make up the bulk of the offers – were held by international students, down from a high of 14.7 per cent in 2019.
  • 2022 admissions have seen “continued growth” in the number of students from nations including Nigeria, which is up 42 per cent, China, up 35 per cent, India, up 27 per cent.

Didn’t get the grades you wanted on results day 2022?

If you did not get the grades to attend your preferred university or college, do not worry, you still have plenty of options

You should still contact your chosen institution of you missed your grades. Universities are often able to take students who miss their offers.

Here are other roads you can take .

Can I resit my A-levels?

Yes, if you missed out on your grades and decide you want to resit your A-levels, you can.

This can be a good option if, for example, you are set on a specific career choice that requires certain grades.

You cannot just resit certain modules, you must resit all of your exams for a subject. However, coursework grades can be retained.

You can choose to resit your exams at a school or college, or online.

If you wish to retake your exams at your current school or college, speak to your teacher. Alternatively, you can enrol at a different college or sixth-form.

You’ll still attend classes and have a set timetable like at school and when it comes time for the exam, you’ll sit it at the college with your other classmates.

If you take the online route you can find private online tutors, and work more independently.

Online study also has a lot more flexibility as you’re not tied to a timetable, and don’t have to be in a physical classroom.

You will sit the in-person exams at the same time as all the other A-level students, but you are responsible for booking a place to sit them. You can do this by contacting your local school or college to ask if they accept private candidates.

When you retake your A-levels, you will have two types of fees to pay; course fees and exam fees.

Your course fees will cover your tuition and/or course materials and will vary depending on where and how you choose to study your A-levels.

The cost of taking the exams themselves also vary. For A-level exams, prices usually start at about £175 per subject, but at some centres you can expect to pay upwards of £400 per exam.

Can I appeal my A-Level 2023 grades?

  • If you think there has been a mistake in the marking of your exams, talk to your school or college, who can ask the exam board to review how your A-Level exam was marked.
  • Although an A-Level exam board cannot give you extra marks just because your mark was close to a grade boundary or because you did not get the grade your centre predicted.
  • All A-Level 2022 exam boards will publish details of the deadlines for seeking reviews of marking or moderation, and appeals, on their websites.
  • A-Level Exam boards may charge fees for reviews of marking or moderation if your grade does not change.
  • You can request a priority review of your A-Level exam marking if you are depending on the outcome of a review to secure a higher education place.
  • All A-Level Exam boards will aim to complete priority reviews by 7 September. This is Ucas’ advisory deadline for higher education providers to hold places open for students.
  • If you and your A-Level exam board centre still have concerns after a review of marking or moderation, the review decision may be challenged through the exam board’s appeals process. Whilst any decisions about reasonable adjustments, special consideration and malpractice can also be taken into account.

A-Level 2022 exam results reduced the independent vs state school disparities

Sutton Trust research A-Level grading and A-Level pass mark 2022

  • Grading :  GCSEs and A-level Grading: Ofqual explains what you need to know
  • GCSEs 2022 : Teacher grades ‘bias’ legal battle looms
  • Exams 2021 : Record high results for GCSE and A level 2021

Research conducted by the Sutton Trust revealed that students are also worried that the mitigations to exams won’t be enough to secure them the grades they need to progress.

Only 52 per cent of Year 13 students felt the arrangements for exams this year had fairly taken into account the impact the pandemic had on their learning.

2023 A-levels grade marking

Typically the embargo starts from 6.00am on A-Level results day itself.

The A-level grades 2023 will be published separately by A-level individual exam boards.

  • AQA grade boundaries info.
  • OCR A-level pass marks.
  • Pearson grade boundary info.
  • CCEA A-levels grade boundary explations
  • WJEC A-level grade boundary updates.

In past years students were able to see the grade boundaries the day before they received their results, when exam boards shared their marking systems with schools and colleges.

So, what are the A-Level equivalents in Scotland?

Attainment of A to C grades was 78.9%, which is down from

  • 87.3% in 2021
  • 89.33% in 2021

However, it is slightly up from 2019 – the last time there was a full exam timetable – when it was 74.8%.

2) Advanced Higher results 2022

There were 81.3% A to C grades for the 2022 Scottish Advanced Higher results.

This means that the 2022 Scottish Advanced Higher results were lower than

  • 2021’s 90.2% A to C grades.
  • 2020’s 93.1% A to C grades.

Although in 2019, the total % who passed was 79.4.

Our top passing A-Levels tips

Passing your A-Level exams relies upon using good A-Level revision strategies. For example:

  • Focus your revision on timed A-Level past paper sessions.
  • The best approach is to make revision notes on cards. Then to go over what you’ve written on your revision cards.
  • Being confident of your A-Level capabilities is one of the most effective A-Level exam tips. Confidence tells your brain know that with focused concentration you can excel and achieve your true A-Level,potential.
  • Always stay open to the advice and revision tips of your most A-Level experienced teachers. They will have your best interests at heart, plus go through the A-level exam season each year.

We hope that our A-Levels guidance and past A-Level exam papers help you achieve your best A-Level grades.

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ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

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A-level 2022 grade boundaries for OCR, AQA, Edexcel, WJEC and CCEA

Full list of A-level grade boundaries for Pearson Edexcel, AQA, OCR, WJEC and CCEA

  • 10:12, 18 AUG 2022

A student reacts when reading their A-level results

A-level grades received by UK students are down on the past two years but remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Hundreds of thousands of pupils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland got results on Thursday, having sat exams for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak. Grades had been expected to drop back from 2021 levels - when pupils were assessed by their teachers - as part of a transition year which saw marks aiming to reflect a midway point between last year and 2019.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said the overall pass rate - the proportion of entries graded A* to E - fell by 1.1 percentage points from 99.5% in 2021 to 98.4% this year.

READ MORE: A-level results day 2022 LIVE updates: Time, Grade boundaries, UCAS track updates and more

But this is up by 0.8 points from 97.6% in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

You can download grade boundaries for each exam board and subject by clicking on the link below.

Edexcel A-level grade boundaries

The A Level grade boundaries for the 2022 Edexcel exams are available here.

AQA A-level grade boundaries

The A Level grade boundaries for the 2022 exams are available here.

OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA) A-level grade boundaries

Wjec a-level grade boundaries, ccea a-level grade boundaries.

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A-level and GCSE exams and results day dates

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  • A-level results
  • Most Recent

ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

A-level grade boundaries 2022 released for AQA, CCEA, Pearson Edexcel and OCR

The grade boundaries for numerous A-level exams have now been released ahead of results day 2022, with students across the UK eagerly awaiting their final results

A-level results day 2022

  • 05:30, 18 Aug 2022
  • Updated 09:12, 18 Aug 2022

A-level results day is here and students up and down the country will be receiving their important grades in order for them to move onto the next step in their career or education.

According to the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), results this year will look different to summer 2021 because of changes made due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Results are likely to be lower than they were last year, when grades were awarded by teacher assessment, but higher than they were in 2019, when summer exams last took place.

Here's everything you need to know about this year's A-level grade boundaries.

What are grade boundaries?

Each year, examination boards draw up a system to determine what grade pupils will receive in their A-level exams or coursework.

The boundaries show the minimum number of marks you need for each grade, and are published either before or on results day.

Once all exam papers have been marked, grade boundaries are set for each exam by senior examiners and the system will depend on how difficult the exam was for candidates.

It’s not until after all the marking has been completed that it’s possible to see how difficult students found the paper.

This means that students are not penalised with poor grades if their exam was especially hard, for example in comparison to previous years.

Senior examiners then compare completed exam papers from this year with those from last year so they can maintain a similar standard.

From here, they will then decide a minimum mark for each grade and subsequently each student's grade can then be decided.

The highest and harshest grade boundaries are decided first, with the others then slotted in at equal intervals.

Grade boundaries for CCEA, OCR, AQA and Pearson Edexcel 2022

The A-Level pass grades are A*, A, B, C, D and E.

If you fail your exam, you will receive a U (meaning ungraded).

CCEA grade boundaries

AS and A2 grade boundaries for CCEA students can be found here.

Pearson Edexcel grade boundaries

Pearson Edexcel grade boundaries were at released at 6am this morning.

A-level Pearson Edexcel grade boundaries can be found here.

OCR grade boundaries

OCR grade boundaries were released at 8am this morning.

The A-level grade boundaries for OCR can be found here.

AQA grade boundaries

The grade boundaries for AQA were released at 8am this morning.

The AQA A-level grade boundaries can be found here.

How were grades awarded in 2020 and 2021?

A-level exams were cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that no grade boundaries were set for A-level students.

A standardisation algorithm was produced for those who were receiving their results in June 2020 by the regulator Ofqual in England, Qualifications Wales in Wales, Scottish Qualifications Authority in Scotland, and CCEA in Northern Ireland.

The algorithm was designed to combat grade inflation, and was to be used to moderate the existing but unpublished centre-assessed grades for A-level and GCSE students.

The algorithm caused controversy up and down the UK, with numerous students being under-marked in their A-level results, leading them to miss out on jobs and university places.

Following the backlash, results were reissued using unmoderated teacher predictions and as a result, there was an annual increase by more than 10 percentage points in the number of top grades awarded.

In 2021, grades were awarded by teachers and were decided on a combination of factors to determine A-level results.

The government advice at the time read: "Grades in summer 2020 were more generous than previous years, and to an unprecedented extent.

"At A level, the proportion of candidates awarded A* or A went up 12.9pp, from 25.2% in 2019 to 38.1% in 2020."

"In 2021 we will carry forward the overall level of generosity from 2020, recognising disruption and lost learning at an overall, national level.

The report added: "This is generosity at a level never before contemplated, given the known inflation of summer 2020.

"It will, though, need to be balanced by careful consideration of the acceptability of grade boundary positions in 2021, to avoid damaging public confidence in the credibility of grades."

A-level teachers used coursework, mock exams, essays, and in-class tests to determine student's grades, with headteacher's signing off the results with evidence to confirm the grades.

Therefore, pupils were only be assessed on what they have been taught after months of disruption.

MORE ON Education Schools A-levels

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GCSE results day: Grade boundaries explained for AQA, OCR and Edexcel

What you need to know ahead of the big day

  • 08:14, 23 AUG 2018
  • Updated 10:37, 23 AUG 2018

ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

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Tomorrow is a big day for thousands of children across the country as they pick up their GCSE results.

With parents, pupils and teachers all nervous about how they'll do, we take a look at what marks mean what grades after a recent reshuffle of the grade boundaries.

Many subjects now use a 9 to 1 mark, with 9 being the best, rather than the usual A* to G grade which this year includes GCSE English in a bid to make it harder.

By 2020, all GCSEs will be graded this way, reports Manchester Evening News.

LIVE: GCSE results day 2018 and how schools in Bristol did

But the actual grade boundaries - how many marks they need for each grade - for each of these subjects will not be available until the day of the results themselves.

Students who want to see what the grade boundaries are can check them on their exam board’s website, where they will be published first thing in the morning on results day.

Each exam board publishes the boundary at a different time. You can check each one via the links below.

GCSE grade boundaries for each exam board

AQA exam board

AQA grade boundaries will be released HERE after 8am on August 23.

OCR exam board

OCR grade boundaries will be released HERE at 6am on August 23.

CCEA exam board

CCEA grade boundaries will be released HERE on August 23.

Pearson Edexcel exam board

Edexcel grade boundaries will be released HERE on the morning of August 23 .

How do the new marks compare to the letter grading?

ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

Grades 9, 8 and 7 are broadly equivalent to an A* and an A, while Grades 6, 5 and 4 are in line with B and C grades.

A grade 4 is broadly equivalent to a C grade. A 3 would be broadly similar to a D grade, with 2 and 1 taking in grades E, F and G.

There is still a U - ungraded - mark.

Fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s, meaning it’ll be harder to get top marks.

What subjects use the new system?

The new 9 to 1 grades only applied to GCSEs in English literature, English language and maths in 2017.

This year students sat the new 9-1 exams in another 20 subjects.

ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

These include:

  • Ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin)
  • Art and design
  • Citizenship studies
  • Combined science (double award)
  • Computer science
  • Food preparation and nutrition
  • Modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish)
  • Physical education
  • Religious studies

What about next year, 2019?

ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

2019 will see a third wave of 9-1 exams introduced in:

  • Ancient history
  • Classical civilisation
  • Design and technology
  • Electronics
  • Engineering
  • Film studies
  • Media studies
  • Modern foreign languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, modern Greek, modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Polish, Russian, Urdu)

And the GCSE results for 2020?

Exams with the new system will be started in 2020 for:

  • Ancient languages (biblical Hebrew)
  • Modern foreign languages (Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese, Turkish)

A delighted Erin Hughes celebrates after opening her GCSE results at Walthamstow Hall, Sevenoaks

Why have the GCSE grades changed?

The new GCSEs are designed to be harder. The new grading system is a way of signalling the exams have been reformed.

The government says the new 9 to 1 grades are be a better way to differentiate between students of different abilities.

It’s part of a new curriculum which was introduced in England’s schools in 2014 by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Now GCSE courses include much less coursework than before, with grades in almost all subjects depending on exams.

Courses are designed to be more rigorous, with exams taken after two years of study, rather than in modules with exams along the way.

  • GCSE results
  • Most Recent

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Connect with other parents whose children are starting secondary school on this forum.

Secondary education

A question re. eng lit a levels for any english teachers out there.

Phaedra11 · 12/08/2015 18:36


DD tells me that the syllabus with the high grade boundaries (Chaucer/Shakespeare etc) tends to be chosen by good teachers/schools/pupils and so there is generally a very high standard. The marks are high but packed very closely together so that a mark here or there can mean a grade dropped. Frustrating.

BTW I'm not a teacher in any way so that is speculation and hearsay!!!

Thanks, cathyandclaire (love the username btw, brings me back to my Jackie magazine reading days). I'm feeling angsty for DS as English Lit was the paper he was really happy with and thought he had highest chances of an A for and he does have an A for his coursework, but 90% seems so high!

I teach OCR Eng Lit A Level. We get, in general, very good results. It is a well thought of course and much better preparation for degree level work than the other specifications.

I teach English A Level but we do EdExcel. I agree with what DoctorDonnaNoble said above. Good luck to all awaiting examination results tomorrow!

Phaedra , my dd has done OCR Eng Lit too, and I'd noticed that earlier this year. It doesn't seem like the exams can really be differentiating as well as they might be?

Thanks all. DS ended up with a B, five marks off an A. He is still hoping for an A at the end of A2s, but it sounds a challenge with the 90% boundary probably still in place and then having to make up those lost marks.

Hello Phaedra , would your son consider re-taking his lower AS unit this summer, (as well as the A2 units), to increase his chance of achieving an A for the A2?

Well done to you son Phaedra, we know people who have up their grade, so it can be done :) My comments were annoyingly prophetic, DD was one raw mark away in English from the A* she needed to get to her first choice Uni, very frustrating!

cathyandclaire Did you consider a re-mark? Or was your daughter one mark away after the re-mark? I hope she will be happy at her insurance university, anyway.

She is having a priority remark Happy, worth it for one mark I think. I'm sure she will be very happy at her insurance, it's a lovely place with a great course but she is a very sad girl at the moment (missed Oxbridge offer). The good thing is that her course work was full marks so hopefully there's a little leeway to go up in the written , at least she's not trying to go from 28 to 29 for an essay!

Good luck! Hope it comes back quickly; all of ours have been returned now (our school is EdExcel for the subjects that requested priority re-marks).


Well done! That's great news. So, off to Cambridge? Wherever she chooses, good luck! Hope other posters' children, relatives, students, are also receiving good news.

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GCSE Grade Boundaries 2023/2024: The New Grading System Explained

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The GCSE grade boundaries we have for 2023 and 2024 began their change in 2017. We moved from the familiar A*-G letter grades to the number grades 9-1.

Maths, English language and English literature were the first subjects to move over to this new grading system, with more subjects changing over in 2018 and then the remaining subjects by 2020.

In this post, we look at the 9-1 grading system and the reformed GCSEs. We explain grade boundaries and how they are set, the proportions of students achieving different overall grades and how the new grades compare to the old grades.

What’s the difference between the new and old grades and how do they compare?

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GCSE Maths 2024: Stay up to date Join our email list to stay up to date with the latest news, revision lists and resources for GCSE maths 2024. We’ll be bringing in our expert contributors to analyse each paper and identify key topic areas to focus your revision. GCSE 2024 dates GCSE results 2023 Analysis of GCSE Maths Paper 1 (2023) Analysis of GCSE Maths Paper 2 (2023) Analysis of GCSE Maths Paper 3 (2023) Summary of ALL GCSE Maths Papers (2023)

The new grading system runs from 9-1, with 1 being the lowest grade and 9 being the highest grade. The old numerical system ran from A*-G.

The new system is designed to allow more differentiation among the higher grades, with grades 4-6 covering what were grades B and C and grades 7-9 covering what was were the top grades of A and A* in the old grading system. Grade 9 is considered to be higher than an A* and roughly the top 20% of GCSE students who achieve a grade 7 or above will achieve a grade 9.

GCSE grade boundaries grade structures

  • Grade 9, Grade 8 and Grade 7 are equivalent to the old Grades A* and A. 
  • Grade 6, Grade 5 and Grade 4 are equivalent to the old Grades B and C. 
  • To pass you need at least a Grade 4 or Grade 5. 
  • Grades 1 to 3 are like the old D to G. 
  • The U grade, meaning “ungraded”, remains the same.

A 9 is for a student who has performed exceptionally well – usually in the top 5% of the cohort. A Grade 7 has been matched to the bottom of the old Grade A and Grade 1 aligns with the bottom of the old Grade G. Grade 4 is a standard pass. Grade 5 is known as a strong pass. 

  • 9 = High A* 
  • 8 = Low A* or high A grade
  • 7 = Low A grade
  • 6 = High B grade
  • 5 = Low B or high C grade
  • 4 = Low C grade
  • 3 = D or high E grade
  • 2 = Low E or high F grade
  • 1 = Low F or G grade

In order to ensure continuity and fairness, the system has been designed so that the bottom of grade 1 aligns with the bottom of grade G, the bottom of grade 4 aligns with the bottom of grade C and the bottom of grade 7 aligns with the bottom of grade A.

This means that any student who would have achieved at least a grade C under the old system will now achieve at least a grade 4, for example. This makes it easier for educational establishments and employers to draw comparisons between the old and new grades. 

Prior to the system changing, a grade C was considered a pass at GCSE. This translates to a grade 4 in the new system, which is considered a ‘standard pass’. Where a grade C would previously have been accepted as an entry requirement into further education or employment, a grade 4 should now be accepted. 

Grade 5 has been labelled a ‘good pass’ and it is worth noting that schools are now held to account for the percentage of students achieving grade 5 or higher.

In terms of GCSE exam papers, the current foundation paper covers the grading scale 1-5 and the current higher paper covers the grading scale 3-9.

Set of 25 Printable GCSE Maths Questions

Try these challenging GCSE maths questions with your students in class. They all include answers on a separate page and are organised by difficulty!

GCSEs in England have been reformed. All courses are now linear, meaning that they are examined at the end of the course rather than in modules throughout the course. There is also less coursework than in the old GCSEs. They also contain new and more demanding content, with the aim being to bring English standards up to match those in other high performing countries.

Changing the grading system is a clear way of indicating that the GCSE courses have changed. It is also hoped that the new system will give sixth forms, colleges, universities and employers a better idea of what level someone is working at, allowing them the opportunity to micro-distinguish between the various grades, such as 7, 8 and 9.

As part of the redesigned maths course, Ofqual set some rules regarding the design of exam papers to ensure exam boards are consistent in the way they are setting their papers.

These rules state that:

  • In a higher tier paper, half of the marks should be targeted at grades 9, 8 and 7 and the other half of the marks should be targeted at grades 6, 5 and 4.
  • In a foundation tier paper, half of the marks should be targeted at grades 5, 4 and the top of grade 3 and the other half of the marks should be targeted at the bottom of grade 3 and grades 2 and 1.

When setting these rules, it was Ofqual’s aim to ensure that there is sufficient challenge across the ability range. It does mean that higher papers now contain more demanding questions and that only around 20% of the questions on the paper are designed for grade 4. This helps to explain the low grade boundaries for a grade 4 on higher papers.

The GCSE grade boundaries tell us the minimum marks a student is required to achieve in order to receive a certain grade. The grade boundaries are different for each subject and vary slightly each year in order to ensure the system is fair for students. 

Each year the grade boundaries are set by senior examiners and these grade boundaries will determine whether a student achieves a grade 1, 2, 3, … etc. 

Fractions decimals percentages lesson support slide from Third Space Learning online one to one maths intervention

Exam boards strive to ensure that it is no easier or harder to achieve a particular grade from one year to the next. This means that if one year’s paper is harder than a previous year’s paper, the grade boundaries are lowered to reflect this. This principle is called Comparable Outcomes.

Grade boundaries for a subject are decided after the exams have been sat and all of the marking has been completed.

Senior examiners take into account a number of factors when deciding on grade boundaries.

These include:

  • Feedback from examiners about the particular paper;
  • Question papers from previous years;
  • Data about the previous achievements of the cohort of students taking the exam;
  • Previous statistics. 

Examiners look especially carefully at the work of students around the grade boundaries to decide where the grade boundaries should be set.

Grade boundaries are released on GCSE results day. Much like A-Levels, they used to be released prior to results day, but this was changed to try and reduce stress amongst students who were trying to predict their grades. The grade boundaries from previous years can be found on the websites of each exam board.

Grade boundaries are set by each exam board based on the papers they have set. We are going to look at the grade boundaries for each exam board for 2023. It is worth noting that this was the second exam sitting following the Covid-19 pandemic. GCSE exams were not sat in 2020 and 2021 and grades were given through teacher assessment.

Although learners taking their exams in 2023 did not suffer school closures during the course of their GCSE years, it was recognised that they had still suffered significant disruption to their studies leading up to their GCSEs. Therefore, steps were taken to ensure fairness to these learners.

Firstly, maths students were provided with a formula sheet during the exams. Secondly, grade boundaries were set in a similar way to when the grading system first changed. This means that examiners looked at the grades achieved in pre-pandemic years by cohorts of students, along with the prior attainment data of those cohorts. Their aim was to decide upon grade boundaries which meant that students with similar prior attainment data would achieve the same grade pre- and post-pandemic.

Edexcel GCSE maths grade boundaries

Aqa gcse maths grade boundaries, ocr gcse maths grade boundaries, wjec eduqas gcse maths grade boundaries.

All marks are out of 240 , except OCR where the marks are out of 300 . For comparison, the numbers in brackets for OCR represent the scaled grade boundary had it been out of 240.

This will vary between different year groups and different subjects. The grade boundaries are not decided so that a certain proportion achieve each grade but by the difficulty of the paper and the prior data of the cohort taking the paper.

We can, however, look at data from previous years to give us an idea of the proportion of students who achieve each grade.

Let’s look at the data for 2022 and 2023, the two most recent exam sittings. The following percentages of students achieved each grade:

You can see from both tables that the percentage of students achieving grades 9-4 in Maths is lower than the percentage receiving grades 9-4 across all subjects.

The results for GCSE English language are similar to those for Maths, and one factor in this could be that every student has to take Maths and English, whereas other subjects are chosen by the student.

It is interesting to compare the results in 2018 and 2019 to those in 2020 and 2021 when results were decided by teacher assessment and 2022 and 2023 when we were all dealing with the impact of the pandemic.

The following chart shows the proportion of students achieving each grade in maths over the years 2018-2023:

ocr a level english language coursework grade boundaries

We can see that in 2020 and 2021 the percentages achieving the lower grades noticeably decreased compared to 2018 and 2019, whilst the percentages achieving the higher grades increased. This is particularly noticeable in the percentage achieving grades 9-4.

Examining previous data, we can see that this is an anomaly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is one that does not just affect the maths results. Examiners have been working over the last two years to bring the results back to pre-pandemic levels.

The following table shows the percentages gaining 9-4, or the equivalent A*-C, over the past 10 years:

The percentages remained fairly consistent, even during the crossover to the new grading system, until 2020.

In fact, maths was one of the subjects that was affected least. If we look at computer science, for example, the percentage achieving 9-4 jumped from 62.6% in 2018 to 80.1% in 2020.

In 2022, Ofqual’s aim was to provide a transition period, with the aim of ultimately returning to pre pandemic levels in 2023. We can see that the distribution of maths results did not really fit the pattern in 2022, although the overall percentage achieving grades 9-4 in maths was in between the percentage who achieved 9-4 in 2018/2019 compared with 2020/2021.

This disparity in results may have been caused by a number of factors, for example, the previous achievements of this particular year group or the effects of disrupted learning due to the pandemic on different cohorts of students. The results in 2023, however, were much more similar to pre-pandemic levels.

In general, the proportions achieving each grade in each subject does vary. Let’s have a look at the proportion achieving 9-4 in 2023 across a few subjects:

If we compare these results, Maths and English results both sit lower than many other subjects. As previously mentioned, all students are expected to take English and Maths, whereas other subjects are chosen due to preference. It is worth considering the situation with Science. In general, higher ability students are entered for separate sciences, whilst lower ability students are entered for combined science. This could explain the differences between the grades awarded in these subjects.

Some of the subjects with the highest achievements are modern foreign languages such as Urdu, Punjabi and Polish. This is likely because those taking these GCSEs are native speakers of the languages in question. 92.1% of those taking modern foreign languages in 2023 received a grade 9-4.

The grading system is different in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Wales reformed their GCSEs in 2015 but still use the A*-G grading system. Northern Ireland has introduced a new grade, C*, and so now also has a 9 point grading system. Students taking exams under English exam boards will receive grades 9-1. Scotland has a separate exam system, Scottish Highers. Scottish National 5 certificates grade A to C are equivalent to GCSEs grade 4 to 9.

Further reading:

  • Ofqual Blog: GCSE 9 To 1 Grades
  • Pearson: GCSE 9-1 Grades Explained
  • AQA: Grade Boundaries Mini Guide
  • 25 GCSE Maths Questions And Answers
  • Most Impactful GCSE Maths Topics
  • GCSE Intervention Strategies
  • How To Revise: 20 Proven Revision Techniques
  • How To Revise For GCSE
  • Exam Techniques
  • GCSE Maths Paper 1 2023

What GCSE grade is 75%?

75% is GCSE grade 8 on a higher paper or grade 5 on a foundation paper. Remember that this is not guaranteed, however looking back over the past few years, is usually true.

What are the grade boundaries for GCSE maths?

The grade boundaries for GCSE mathematics in 2022 were: Edexcel mathematics grade boundaries

AQA mathematics grade boundaries

OCR mathematics grade boundaries

WJEC Eduqas mathematics grade boundaries

Remember, grade boundaries do vary year on year.

Are GCSE grade boundaries in 2023 lower than in 2022?

Grade boundaries in 2022 were varied between the different exam boards. The OCR and Edexcel GCSE maths exam grade boundaries were similar to usual so we can expect that the grade boundaries for 2023 will not be too different from those in 2022.

  The AQA GCSE maths grade boundaries were the highest they have been since 2018 and the Equdas GCSE maths grade boundaries were the lowest they have been since 2018.

Overall, the grade boundaries do not vary a great deal and looking at past grade boundaries will give you a good indication of what to expect for 2023.

As soon as we know the 2023 ones we will update this article.

What is a passing grade for GCSE maths?

Grade 4 at GCSE is considered to be a ‘standard pass’. Grade 5 is considered to be a ‘strong pass’.

Free GCSE maths revision resources for schools As part of the Third Space Learning offer to schools, the personalised online GCSE maths tuition can be supplemented by hundreds of free GCSE maths revision resources including: – GCSE maths past papers – GCSE maths worksheets – GCSE maths questions – GCSE maths topic list

Do you have students who need extra support in maths? Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to plug gaps and boost progress. Since 2013 we’ve helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians. Find out more about our GCSE Maths tuition or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

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