Press release

Actions in response to Ofqual's GCSE maths research report

Exam boards to take action in response to Ofqual's GCSE maths research report.


Ofqual is today (21 May 2015) announcing the actions to be taken following the conclusion of our research programme to evaluate the expected difficulty of exam boards’ sample exam papers and their approach to the assessment of mathematical problem solving.

Our evidence suggests that all boards’ higher tier papers appropriately stretch the most able students and that they compare well with papers from a range of already high-performing countries.

However we have concluded that OCR, Pearson and WJEC Eduqas need to refine their higher and foundation tier papers to sufficiently differentiate across student abilities. AQA needs to lift, to some extent, the expected difficulty of their foundation tier papers.

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual’s Chief Regulator said:

Our research has provided further confidence that the new GCSE maths papers will be of greater challenge than the current papers. And as a result of the actions the exam boards have agreed to take following our research, we are additionally assured that the boards’ exam papers will be more comparable in difficulty in 2017 and equally suitable for students as are now.

Our full research report is being published today along with a regulatory summary of actions exam boards are now taking in response.

This video explains the regulator’s findings:



Supplementary statement

While it is good to see the exam boards’ positive reactions to our GCSE maths research all exam boards’ papers had strengths and weaknesses. It is our intent that all exam boards now review their sample assessment materials, and make changes having due regard to our research findings.

Notes to Editors:

Ofqual is today also launching a consultation on updated statutory guidance for GCSE maths.

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Published 21 May 2015
Last updated 22 May 2015 + show all updates
  1. Added a supplementary statement.
  2. First published.