Changes to GCSEs, IGCSEs and A Levels

You may have been reading about the changes to GCSE, IGCSE and A Level examinations, and wondered how this would affect your current qualifications or your future studies?

Firstly, do not worry about any of the qualifications you currently hold or are studying towards. Your qualifications will still be relevant! Any previously studied GCSEs and A Levels will still hold their validity and can still be used for any jobs or further education applications that require them.

Changes to GCSEs:

All GCSEs have been changing to a new linear format with a new grading system, and this is being implemented for all subjects over a 3-year period.

The Grading of the new syllabus will be by numbers 9-1 (9 being the highest) rather than by the current letters A* to G. Pupils who fail will be awarded a "U" for an unclassified result. For most subjects OFQUAL is scrapping the higher and lower tier system although this will be kept for Maths.

There will be some fundamental changes to the marking with more marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar and coursework will be scrapped for most subjects, making them similar to IGCSEs and the previous "O Level” system!

From first teaching in September 2015. Mathematics GCSE and English Literature GCSE were the first subjects to be changed and are already graded in this new format. The next batch of GCSEs were changed in September 2016. This affected the Religious Education GCSE Course, which had final exams in May/June 2017.

The final batch of GCSE syllabus changes affects Sociology GCSE and Psychology GCSE so May/June 2018 will be the final exams graded in the A* to G format and all GCSEs will be in the new 9-1 format for exams in May/June 2019.

Changes to IGCSES:

All IGCSEs are following the path of GCSEs and are switching to the new 9-1 grading system. Some specifications such as Maths, English Language and English Literature have already changed while all other new specifications will be in place for first exams in May/June 2019.

Changes to A Levels:

Probably the biggest confusion for most people has been with the new changes to the A Level system.

Firstly, the easy part... The A Level grading system will remain the same! But as with GCSEs, A Levels will become linear rather than modular. meaning that students wanting to complete a full A level will need to sit all of their exams together in one single exam window rather than having the option of sitting AS and A2 units over different exam windows.

The biggest change in the system is in the relationship between AS (Previously the first year of an A Level study) and A Levels. AS Levels are being decoupled… which means they will no longer count towards a final A Level grade, although they will still be a full qualification in their own right, but will attract fewer UCAS points. 

AS Level and A Level courses are designed to be "co-teachable”! So essentially an AS Level will still cover the same territory to what is covered within 50% of an A Level syllabus. What this means is that a student taking an AS Level could continue to do an A Level the following year. They will have covered the same ground as their A Level peers, but would still be required to sit all A Level exams, including information previously covered in their AS Level assessment.

The first changes took place from first teaching in September 2015, and out of the courses that we currently offer only LawPure MathematicsMaths & Mechanics and Maths & Statistics are still available in the modular format although final exams for these are in May/June 2018 meaning that all exams would need to be sat in this exam window or students can wait for the new courses and sit first exams of the new linear specification aiming for exams in May/June 2019.

If you have any questions about GCSE, IGCSE or A Level Study then you can contact us on


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