Guidance

Get the facts: GCSE reform

Updated 31 March 2017

1. Introduction

New GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths will be taught in schools in England from September 2015, with the first results issued in August 2017.

Further subjects will see new GCSEs introduced over the following two years.

2. What new GCSEs will look like

The main features of the new GCSEs are:

  1. A new grading scale of 9 to 1 will be used, with 9 being the top grade. This will allow greater differentiation between students and will help distinguish the new GCSEs from previous versions.

  2. Assessment will be mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.

  3. There will be new, more demanding content, which has been developed by government and the exam boards.

  4. Courses will be designed for two years of study – they will no longer be divided into different modules and students will take all their exams in one period at the end of their course.

  5. Exams can only be split into ‘foundation tier’ and ‘higher tier’ if one exam paper does not give all students the opportunity to show their knowledge and abilities.

  6. Resit opportunities will only be available each November in English language and maths.

3. Timetable

New GCSE to be taught from: First results will be issued in: Subjects
September 2015 Summer 2017 English language
English literature
mathematics
September 2016 Summer 2018 ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin)
art and design
biology
chemistry
citizenship studies
combined science (double award)
computer science
dance
drama
food preparation and nutrition
geography
history
modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish)
music
physics
physical education
religious studies
September 2017 Summer 2019 ancient history
astronomy
business
classical civilisation
design and technology
economics
electronics
engineering
film studies
geology
media studies
modern foreign languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, modern Greek, modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Polish, Russian, Urdu)
psychology
sociology
statistics
September 2018 Summer 2020 ancient languages (biblical Hebrew)
modern foreign languages (Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese, Turkish)