GCSE changes: a summary

A summary of the changes to GCSEs from 2015.



The attached document shows the main features of reformed GCSEs to be taught from 2015 onward. It details whether:

  • the subject is tiered
  • has non-exam assessment
  • there are any significant changes from the previous version of this subject

as well as:

  • a link to the latest consultation on the subject
  • links to conditions, guidance and subject specifications where available

General decisions for all reformed GCSEs

We consulted on our general approach in June 2013, and published decisions in November 2013.

Key changes that will apply to all subjects are:

  • all subjects will have revised subject content which will be used for all GCSEs in that subject - in most instances this will be produced by the Department for Education
  • a new grading scale from 9 to 1
  • non-exam assessment will only be used where knowledge, skills and understanding cannot be tested validly in an exam; this means the proportion of non-exam assessment has been reduced in a number of subjects
  • tiering will only be used when a single exam cannot assess students across the full ability range in a way that enables them all to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding; this means fewer subjects will now use tiering
  • November exams are only available in Maths and English language, and only for students who were 16 or over on the preceding 31 August; all other exams will take place in the summer
Published 11 September 2015
Last updated 31 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Added subjects being reformed for first teaching from September 2018, specifications accredited for first teaching from September 2017
  2. Added first accredited specifications for subjects taught from 2017
  3. Added final rules for subjects taught from 2017, and accredited specifications for subjects taught from 2016
  4. Made corrections to previous assessment weightings in English literature, French, German, Spanish, dance, drama and music. Corrected weightings for maths components in biology and physics. Asses weightings for citizenship and geography.
  5. First published.